Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grants are Our Friends

by Sherry Perkins

Grants. While this may scare people into running in the opposite direction I rather enjoy putting together a grant proposal. It’s a perfect collaboration for accounting, planning, and writing, three areas which interest and challenge me. I’ve composed four grants for our group, with one left to go.

The sole reason BWG applies for grants if to help fund our annual writing conference. Think about it. It takes lots of money, and lots of planning, to sponsor such an event. Some expenses include: rent for the venue, lunch for everyone, speakers’ honoraria, speakers’ travel expenses including hotel if needed, advertising in newspapers, magazines, and/or on tv and radio, and breakfast foods/snacks. Once these expenses begin to add up, the figure explodes into thousands of dollars. On the flip side, the only incomes we have are our membership dues and any financial donations others give. Just like your household budget, when your expenses exceed your income, you can’t make it until payday. This is the reason we apply for grants, to help us get to our next payday - the conference.

So, what is a grant? A grant is basically free money. Yes, free money! However, to qualify for funds you must explain to the sponsoring agency, in the form of an application packet, several supporting reasons why your organization 1) needs the funds, 2) how you plan to use the funds, and 3) if you receive funding how you actually spent the funds versus how you thought you would spend the funds. That sounds easy doesn’t it? It is (sort of). While each grant has its own deadline, some require the packet to be three-hole punched with several copies. Also, each grant has a deadline for follow-up documentation to be submitted after the event has ended. Additionally, you must read every word in the application and do your best to answer what each application asks. Below are some issues/questions you may find on a grant application.

1) Who are the speakers (also called providers of service)? Name, address, phone number, area of expertise, a short bio, and topic of presentation. Obviously, in January the speakers are not confirmed, but the supporting agency needs to see you’re contacting people and getting the ball rolling.

2) Who is the Board of Directors of the group (officers)? Name, addresses, phone numbers, professional affiliations. Which area(s) is/are each officer responsible for?

3) Explain your function/event. (You may only have three pages to answer specific questions given to you in the application.) Be sure to proofread!

4) Produce a budget (incoming funds versus outgoing expenses). A form is included with places for cash on hand, amount you are requesting, how cash funds will be used, and how grant funds will be used.

5) Any supporting documents from past events, such as brochures, photos (not many, you’re not submitting a scrapbook), and/or feedback or critiques from the audience.

Documents you will need to not only produce this accurately, but also to apply include: actual income and expenses from the previous year (bank statements and/or an audit), the most recent Secretary of State form showing your business is in good standing with Louisiana, and an IRS form 990N. While grants are very time consuming, and overwhelming at first, like anything else with enough practice the scariness melts away.

2012 BWG Grant Submission History

1. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Grant - applied for $5,000.00 - awarded $3,000.00 (60%)

2. Powell Group Fund Baton Rouge - applied for $2,000.00  - TBD

3. Lake Charles Partnership Grant - applied for $3,000.00 - awarded $1,225.94 (40%)

4. Lake Charles Tourism & Marketing Grant - applied for $2,000.00 - TBD

5. Decentralized Arts Funding Grant - Not open for applications yet.


  1. Sherry - Thank you for working so diligently on all of these grants so that we might have a truly exceptional conference this year!