Email your questions about grants to
I’m a board member for Agape House of Vandalia, a nonprofit organization that provides overnight lodging for families of prisoners in two state prisons in our service area. There are two other sister organizations in the state, Agape House of Springfield and Agape House of Jefferson City, which share the same mission and have longer histories. Representatives from our boards met officially for the first time recently and decided we should pursue grants collectively. We felt we might make a greater impact on foundations with strength in the numbers of persons we serve. At this point, we have no formal alliance or organizations. For the purpose of grant writing, how shall we handle that? We each have boards of directors, but none for this group. Similarly, we each hold 501I(3) designation, but none collectively. Thank you for any direction you can provide.
I think the collective move of your organization to fund raise is one that will open doors to funding sources you may not be able to pursue as individual organizations. To proceed, I suggest your organizations designate one of the three agencies to serve as the lead applicant/grantee organization. Furthermore, prepare a written agreement that specifies your cooperative venture and include it as an attachment or part of the grant narrative. The grants you receive would go to the lead agency, and the lead agency would then allocate appropriate funds as agreed upon to the other two agencies.
I work in a small, rural county implementing a state grant program. I was hired after the grant had already been written and approved. The county board recently decided to treat me as a consultant instead of their employee which means we’re not going to spend all the money we allocated for my salary in the grant. Is this going to hurt us next year when we reapply?
Yes, leftover or unspent grant monies are not a good thing. Examine your budget to determine if you can use the money toward another line item in your budget. Then call your program officer in the state office, explain what happened, and request to make a budget change. It’s very much to your advantage to find a way to spend the all the money approved in your grant. If not, you risk your grant amount being reduced next year, or even worse, you risk receiving another grant. The reason for this is that government agencies operate on 12-month budgets. If you don’t spend the money, the agency risks the legislature reducing their budget. In other words, if you don’t spend it, they’ll lose it. I used to work as a program officer and appreciated grantees letting me know about budget issues so we could resolve them and create a win-win situation for their clients, organization, and my own agency.