With the COVID-19 crisis, should I hold off on applying for grants right now?

With the COVID-19 crisis, many of our clients have been asking, “Should I hold off on applying for grants right now?” The short answer is “No” – nonprofits should go ahead and continue any grant applications they have already planned AND should use this time to explore additional or different types of funding in order to diversify their support base.

Background

Many grants allow applications in cycles (quarterly, semi-annually, etc.) If you are denied the first time, you ask again. SKC is not familiar with any foundation funders that penalize applicants for applying, being declined, and then asking again. There are some funders that almost never award a grant on the first application – you have to apply two or three times until the grant is awarded. Sometimes applicants struggle with the common request question “why is your organization asking for funding now?” Given the current circumstances, most (if not all) organizations will have no trouble with this response.

Laura McEachen, SKC’s Grant Coordinator has provided the following information to assist you and your organization with helpful grant funding advice during this uncertain time.

The DOs and DON'Ts of Grant Writing During Times of Crisis

Unsure on the moves you need to make when it comes to grant funding during times of crisis? Laura has provided a quick list of Dos and Don’ts to break down this funding option in our new landscape.

The DOs

Reach out to funders who have supported your organization

Recently and/or are long-time funders. Even if you just received a grant award, ask if they can provide some additional emergency funding, especially if your organization has had to close due to stay-at-home orders. Provide specifics on what the funding will be used for.

Check in with grants that are in process

some funders have accelerated their funding timelines and you may be able to receive an award more quickly than in the past. Or they might be more willing than usual to let your organization know whether they are in the running for an award at this time or not.

Ask funders about funds previously awarded that were granted for a specific project or program

Let’s say a current project or program for which you requested funding can no longer take place as planned due to COVID-19. Let your funder know – they may be willing to expand parameters on the funding to cover certain general operating expenses under these unique circumstances.

Research grant applications you have considered in the past

but may have moved on from due to their deadlines or requirements. Some funders are extending/opening deadlines right now. Others have shortened their applications. Funders that have in the past had separate deadlines for different grant cycles are combining those so more people can apply now. Funder websites may not contain the most up-to-date information – always call or email for specifics.

Use unexpected down time to develop a comprehensive fund development plan

and bolster relationships with funders, old and new. Send out reports of what your organization is doing so you can stay on their radar until the time is right to apply.

Contact Support KC if you have questions about grants

or need assistance with grant writing or fund development for either short-term emergency funding or longer term projects.

The DON'Ts

Don’t be discouraged with funders if you reach out and don’t get a reply right away.

Funders are experiencing the same challenges as applicants with staffing, policy changes, closures, technology, etc. Patience and understanding can go a long way in times like these.

Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback as to why an application was rejected.

Many times it is simply a case of more worthy proposals than dollars. However, if specific feedback is provided, be sure to follow their suggestions to strengthen your application.

Don’t be dissuaded if your grant applications are rejected during this time.

Remember that it is the exception to get funded, not the rule.

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

There are funding opportunities everywhere, you just need to know where to look. Read on for some upcoming grants and application periods separated out into various sectors such as Arts & Culture, Education, Health, and more.

Arts & Culture

The Arts Integration Program

(KS – Application deadline is May 1) grants support the role arts play in all levels of education, community service, and workforce development. This program provides funding for educational institutions, arts organizations, and community service nonprofits to use the arts to increase student success, foster creative thinking, develop critical job skills, and enhance community development. Check out their application process here.

Humanities Kansas

(new deadline is May 28th) is continuing with their Humanities For All Grants program that can assist with your organization’s community conversations, town halls, podcasts, and more. Kansas nonprofits can apply through the new deadline. For more information, check out their page here.

Children

The Clay County Children’s Services Fund

(application period begins May 1, 2020) was created in 2017 following voter approval of a designated one-quarter of a cent sales tax pursuant to RSMo 67.1775 and RSMo 210.861. This fund will assist with services like counseling and therapy, intervention programs, mental health screenings, and more. The link provided above will be updated when the application period goes live.

Education

The Kauffman Foundaiton

is working with SchoolSmartKC to designate up to $2 million of existing funds to support district and charter schools, and nonprofit education support organizations within the Kansas City Public School district boundaries. Funds will focus on vulnerable students and families, teaching and instruction, systems planning, and needs that emerge during the coming months related to COVID-19 conditions. You can read more about the program and begin the application process here. The appication period began on April 6th and will remain open until all funding has been committed.

Health

The Health Forward Foundation

has made the following changes to their applicant defined grant process for the remainder of 2020. These changes are being made to support current and future health and economic needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Human Services

The Homelessness Trust Fund

was established in 1988 at The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to serve as an endowment for assistance to homeless individuals and those in danger of becoming homeless. Grants are made annually to organizations for distribution to eligible individuals residing in Kansas City, Missouri, and/or Jackson County, Missouri. An advisory committee oversees the funds and all grant decisions. Contact Kelli Doyle at doyle@growyourgiving.org or (816) 268-3203 for more information.

If you need help with any of these resources please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Finally, as each day brings new challenges and obstacles, remember to be good to one another. Support KC has spent the last twenty years working shoulder to shoulder with our partners in the nonprofit community to ensure we all stay ‘mission focused’. Let us not forget that message as our community needs us now more than ever. Support KC is here for you and your organization as you face new challenges and obstacles in the face of this pandemic. We can achieve anything if we work together. Support KC remains open (remotely) and accessible via our office phone number or by reaching out directly to your point of contact.


For the benefit of the nonprofit sector everywhere, we wanted to provide resources for ways we can continue to operate and grow within this era. And once social distancing begins to fade, what lessons can we take from this to improve our operations permanently. Come back often for more updates.