By: Jeff Nazzaro

Grant Proposal Writing instructor Bill Ballas serves it up!

Billions upon billions of dollars in grant money are awarded each year to small businesses and nonprofit organizations alike. But, getting your piece of the grant pie is not always as easy as just showing up to the table. It means first hopping in line alongside an increasingly larger, diverse, and competitive cohort of grant-seekers striving for a pool of available foundational funds that still hasn’t rebounded to pre-recession levels. Success in winning grants depends on the proper planning, research, writing, and submission of grant proposals, and then following up on them, and building relationships based on mutual success. In the end, so much of the grant-seeking process relies on establishing the right connection—the perfect organization receiving the best-fitting grant—then sticking the landing that is the grant proposal.

“These are unprecedented times for grant makers and those who seek their funding,” said Bill Ballas, a Certified Fund-Raising Executive who will be teaching UCR University Extension’s comprehensive Grant Proposal Writing course this spring. “Grantors are laser-focused right now on funding proposals that align with their goals, deliver promised results, and benefit those most in need.”

“Successful proposals offer a vision geared toward socially positive change>”

Bill, whose Palm Desert-based firm, WSB, LLC, specializes in strategic marketing, branding, leadership development, and fundraising and nonprofit management, said that the proposals most likely to meet with success are those that offer a vision geared towards socially positive change. With years of grant writing and related experience raising funds for nonprofits, his goal is to equip students with not only the technical acumen necessary but also a feel for the current pulse of the nonprofit world.

The bottom line is that for foundation grants for nonprofits, the key component remains forging relationships that will provide long-term, stabilizing funding that satisfies and promotes the foundation’s core mission. For example, one listing on grantwatch.com describes $50,000 grants for US-based nonprofit organizations set up to address social justice issues, with a stated goal of promoting service to underserved communities. Much more specifically, another listing details grants of up to $500 for the implementation of youth archery programs.

“…for nonprofits, the key component remains forging relationships…”

For small-business grants, the main thrust involves finding funds geared as specifically as possible for the business in question while understanding what grantors are seeking in a partner. Most small-business grants will go to already established, interesting companies, particularly those that serve or promote under-represented groups or to help revitalize certain local areas. Grantwatch.com describes grants worth $10,000 for Asian- or Pacific Islander-owned foodservice businesses to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic; another listing shows grants of up to $50,000 for start-up companies to move their operations to St. Louis.

“…small business grants go to established, interesting companies who serve under-represented groups…”

While searching online is the go-to starting point, in the case of small businesses, thinking locally and going old school can be a great strategy. Many small business grants are not easily found through internet searches but could be accessible through local business associations or development centers, where you may encounter human help and fewer competitors for grant dollars. Regional Small Business Administration (SBA) Offices, Small Business Development Centers, and local chapters of SCORE, the volunteer mentor network, whose website lists six Inland Empire locations, including one at Eastvale City Hall. For nonprofits, though much of the action comes at the federal level, Grantwatch hosts state-specific sites, and you can find non-federal grant programs through grants.gov, as well.

“Many small business grants are accessible the ‘old school’ way through local associations and development centers…”

Grant writing instructor Bill Ballas “At the end of my course, you will know the essential strategies and techniques for planning, researching, writing, and budgeting a professional grant proposal,” Bill explained. “You will not only understand the concepts of impact, inclusion, and equity, you will have written a professional grant proposal yourself. The money is out there, and I can show you how to get it.”