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Grant Funds Community Awareness

Terri Maloney Houston
Columbus, Ohio, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 4, August-September 1997, pp. 89-90

A $3,900 (US) grant from the Academy of Medicine of Columbus and Franklin County Foundation will go a long way toward increasing community awareness of breastfeeding and La Leche League services in our area. The grant application was the project of three Leaders in the Central Ohio Chapter: Deb Zwolinski, Jodi Bacon and Terri Maloney Houston.

My co-Leader Jodi and I became interested in grant writing when we were invited to serve as funding co-chairmen for our Area, LLL of Ohio, USA. Getting LLL information into the hands of pregnant and new mothers with the consistency enjoyed by the marketers of formula, diapers and other products was our first grant project idea.

When we mentioned the idea at a Chapter Meeting, Deb volunteered to help. Deb had recently attended a workshop where she received not only training in grant writing but also leads on sources of funding. In previous employment, I had written several successful grant applications for arts funding. Jodi is a talented writer, great bookkeeper and all-around fountain of common sense. With confidence in our combined experience and skills, we decided to go for it!

Deb identified the Academy of Medicine of Columbus and Franklin County Foundation as one source which seemed to have an interest in funding a project like the one we had in mind. Just to make sure, we called the foundation and discussed the project idea with the grants administrator. She encouraged us to apply and provided the necessary forms and deadlines.

We called our project the "Community Outreach Project." In the application a series of steps to complete the project were proposed.

The first step was to prepare and distribute radio and television Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on the benefits of breastfeeding, including a telephone number which would allow those with questions to reach a Central Ohio Leader for more information. Since Medela had already produced a beautiful, high quality television PSA on behalf of LLL, we proposed using it. We had previously been in contact with the Advertising Federation of Columbus, a professional association of those who work in advertising, which agreed to donate the writing of radio public service announcement scripts and other services.

The second step was to participate in an annual Baby Fest, a weekend display at a convention center. More than 5,000 people had attended the previous year's event so we knew it was an excellent way to introduce LLL to large numbers of mothers, fathers and grandparents in the community. Since a donation to help underwrite our participation in the Baby Fest was already in hand it could be designated "matching funds" and was proof that others in the community supported our work.

Finally, we proposed providing LLLI materials to selected area hospitals for the packets of information routinely given to expectant and new parents. In addition, we would produce a brochure with local LLL contacts. Once again, the Advertising Federation agreed to donate design work. Also proposed was a refrigerator magnet printed with a phone number a mother could call for referral to a Leader in her area.

Completing the grant application required a copy of the Chapter budget, the "Board president's" signature and a project budget, in addition to a thorough description of the proposed project and letters of support from members of the community. We divided the work and completed the application in several weeks.

With a sigh of relief Deb delivered the required five copies of the completed application and supporting documents to the foundation offices. We were informed by letter a few days later that the foundation found the application complete. They also told us the date we would hear their decision.

Imagine the excitement when approval for the entire amount requested was received! The majority of the money paid for Breastfeeding Does Make a Difference (LLLI publication No.64); How To Know Your Healthy Full-Term Breastfed Baby Is Getting Enough Milk (No.457); our local brochure, "La Leche League of Central Ohio-We're Here for You and Your Baby!" and the magnet. Some funds paid for copy services and postage used to distribute the Public Service Announcements.

We certainly saw how matching the right funding source with a well-planned grant application spelled success!

Grant Writing Tips

Ask Leaders in your Area what types of projects they would like to see funded. Discuss ideas with Area Council members.

Look for foundations or corporations that are interested in funding your type of project as well as those that serve the same geographic region. The public library often has directories and computer databases of grant funders. Your local chamber of commerce may also be a source of information on corporations which fund community projects. Run the names of possible funders by your District Advisor (DA) or Area Coordinator of Leaders (ACL) to ensure there are no potential conflicts with LLL philosophy.

Call the grants administrator to discuss your project idea. Follow his/her suggestions; they will increase the chances of your application being funded. Request the necessary application forms, guidelines and deadlines.

Design your application so that the total funding does not come from one source. If applicable, count donations you have already received as "matching funds." Don't forget to count the value of donated goods and services as matching funds.

Organize supporting documents and letters of support from members of the community. Often grant funders will require documents such as the organization's annual budget, proposed project budget, background information on your organization, number of people served, resumes of persons who will implement the project, etc. If possible, obtain letters of support from members of the foundation or corporation to which you are applying.

Make a rough draft of your application. Have it reviewed by several people for content, grammar, spelling, etc. Ask your DA to review it.

Type or word-process neatly. Hand deliver or mail the required number of copies on or before the funder's deadline. If you mail the packet, use the type of postal or delivery service that requires someone has to sign for receipt of the package so that you know it was received.

If you are not notified by the funder when the decisions will be made, call and ask the grants administrator.

After you receive funding, follow the funders requests for follow-up reports and accounting procedures to the letter. You will greatly increase chances of receiving subsequent funding.

Keep grant money in a separate bank account.

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