"Good Horsemanship is Built on Solid
Basics...So is Good Business!"
Business & Association Development, Marketing, Professional Workshops
forthe Horse Industry
For Funding In All The Right Places
By Lisa Derby Oden
You've seen the ads.
You know, the ones that say, "Let the government
finance your small business" or some other project or acquisition.
it sound like the money is just growing on a tree somewhere, waiting for
to come along to pick it. In fact, millions of dollars are available in
form of grants. But what these ads don't tell you is that it is a highly
competitive process (for example, $300,000 is available from one source;
proposals are received requesting a total of $1.3 million), that your
and the grant maker's goals must be the same, and that there is a correct
procedure and format for applying for a grant.
Primarily foundations, corporations, government, and civic and religious
groups provide grants. This is money made available by these entities
usually to solve a problem. By providing the funds, and opening the proposal
application process to non-profits, these entities are effectively
contracting with the non-profit as the means to the solution. The emphasis
here is on the fact that the grant makers are looking to solve problems,
necessarily to make the non-profit successful. That may come as one
by-product of the process, but it is not the focus. It's interesting to
that sometimes grant makers may be looking to help solve problems that
may have in some way created.
From the non-profits side, grant proposals are written for a variety of
purposes. Obviously, the primary goal is to secure funding for an idea.
Often proposals are written to make a case, test an idea, or get things
started. It can be a method for non-profits to make grant making entities
aware of problems that exist or that are emerging. Although an initial
may not be funded, the awareness has been created, and subsequent requests
may meet with greater success.
Three key elements for securing funding are:
1) Proposal - Once you've determined that you are seeking assistance in
providing a program, a service, educational materials, or need help with
your non-profit operating costs, you'll need to write a proposal detailing
your request. Proposal writing starts with research and planning. Become
super-sleuth to locate all the possible sources for assistance. Remember
that your proposals will be written for EACH grant maker. You won't simply
produce one proposal and send it to several grant makers - you will tailor
each proposal to the grant maker's guidelines for proposal submission.
you mass-produce one grant, you may find your request has been
mass-rejected. In addition to research, get on the phone and talk to the
donor before you write your proposal. You will begin to establish a
relationship if you don't already have one. And although it doesn't mean
that you have a higher chance of receiving the grant, it does demonstrate
professionalism and may increase the odds in your favor.
2) Concept and Cost - Write your proposal in simple language, because
will need to communicate your ideas without you there. Several different
people may read it, and they all must be able to understand it. You will
need to demonstrate what the problem is, why it is a problem, how you
to solve it, and what the cost will be. Remember, you are selling the
solution, program, service that you are seeking funding for, NOT your
3) Credibility - Your horse non-profit will need to demonstrate that you
a suitable and stable (no pun intended) solution to the problem you have
detailed in your proposal. Your connection to the grant maker may be
These three elements
will all be part of the process, but the influence that
one element has may vary in comparison to the other two depending on where
you're seeking assistance. Typically, government funding puts more emphasis
on the proposal. Foundations may be more interested in the concept involved.
Organizations may place more weight on your connection with them.
How do you find out where to locate grant money? Research is the key.
Investigate sources on the internet, in your library, in your local
newspaper, through publications geared towards philanthropy, and by personal
inquiry. The following list gives an idea of what types of grant requests
some entities fund, and where to look to find out more.
- May provide funding for 3 years. New programs often
need a solid 3-year period to get securely off the ground, so this type
funding is particularly helpful in that instance. For example, therapeutic
riding programs would require this as a minimum for a "start-up"
*Private Foundations - Usually provide short-term funding that is more
project based. Perhaps your horse association is thinking of running a
seminar or conference. This is a project-based example.
*Community and Private Foundations can be researched at the library in
Foundation Directory. The 2001 edition of The Directory contains information
on the 10,000 largest grant-making foundations in the United States. To
some idea of the value that this resource has, it is indexed in several
including geographically, by type of support, and by subject. Other sources
include The Foundation News; The Chronicle of Philanthropy; corporate
reports, board members, and employees; the business press; and Taft
*Federal, State, and Local Government - Look for grant criteria in the
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, Federal Register, Commerce Business
Daily, Bidder's List (state level), and legal notices in papers. Many
horse councils have received funding for promotion and marketing
initiatives, educational brochures and programs, economic impact studies,
and trail development and improvement projects through government funding.
*Religious - Not as much is documented about these grants. Primary source
will be through a member of the congregation.
*Civic/Service Organizations - Provide "one shot" funding for
things such as
equipment, and individual rooms (like hospital rooms). These sources can
discovered through your local newspaper, librarian, and organization member.
Applicable examples include: a therapeutic mounting ramp for a non-profit
therapeutic riding program: or your non-profit rescue group needs to add
stalls or a run-in shed.
*Individual - This type of "grant" is simply when someone gives
that doesn't have to be paid back. Perhaps they really believe in you,
perhaps an idea you have - whatever the reason, they give you money
If your grant maker does not have detailed criteria of their own, your
proposal should ensure a complete picture for your highest chances of
success. You might note that the format parallels that of a business plan,
which is how for-profit ventures seek funding. Based on the following
format, your proposal will be about 10 pages long, not including the
summary, appendix and budget.
I - Summary - Presents
a full overview of your proposal.
II - Introduction - Builds the case for why your horse non-profit should
the one to do this job.
III - Statement of Conditions - Identifies the problem and target population
of the proposal.
IV - Goals & Objectives - Indicates the outcome when the problem is
and the objectives required to reach the outcome.
V - Methodology - Describes your plan, the tasks involved, personnel,
timeline, and budget.
VI - Evaluation - Indicates how you know you are accomplishing your project,
both during and after the project.
VII - Budget - Accounts for both cash and non-cash resources.
VIII - Appendix - Adds to your horse non-profits credibility. Listing
Board of Directors, letter of tax-exempt status, and your previous years
Income and Expense statement or annual report are examples.
And if at first you
Ask yourself these questions:
~ Did I approach the correct grant makers?
~ Did I call to investigate their grant making interests, and whether
what they were interested in matched what I am doing?
~ Did I demonstrate that my horse non-profit is a sound organization and
best choice for the job?
~ Did my summary make the case clear, our approach clear, and the cost
~ Did I demonstrate why the problem is a problem, why the current solutions
aren't appropriate, and that the problem is a fixable problem?
(Lisa Derby Oden has been providing business development, marketing, and
association consulting services to the horse industry since 1995. Oden
is author of "Growing Your Horse Business" and "Bang For
Your Buck: Making $ense of Marketing For Your Horse Business." She
is the 1999 AHC Van Ness Award recipient for outstanding service to the
horse industry. She can be reached at: (603)878-1694; email at Lisa@horseconsulting.com;
or visit her
website at www.horseconsulting.com)