So, you launched a women’s triathlon program and are basking in the rewards that come with helping to improve lives through sport and supporting a healthy lifestyle. Wonderful! Next step is to grow the program. How do you accomplish this when funding sources are scarce and fundraising efforts are tapped out? Many organizations, including USA Triathlon, the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee and several of USA Triathlon’s Regions, offer grant opportunities for athletes, triathlon programs and health-related businesses. Not everyone has access to an experienced grant writer. With diligent homework and a thorough plan it is possible to submit a winning grant application.
Below are a few tips to help with the grant writing process.
It’s no secret that age-group competition can be tough and there is also plenty of competition vying for grant funding. The first step is to research all opportunities and read through the grant application criteria and description several times to make sure it fits your needs. Be clear on what you want and also what you need.
2. Follow instructions
This may seem obvious but it is critical to follow the application instructions and provide concrete answers to the questions. Grant reviewers should not have to guess at what the applicant is trying to convey. Be thorough and as precise as possible.
Sample Question: How many women participate in your program and include a testimonial from a participant.
Vague Answer: Many women attend our program and they all say they like it.
Better Answer: We launched our program in 2010 with five women and in 2014 we had an average of 20-25 women. Susan Smith, 40, joined our program last year and is a breast cancer survivor: “The support I received from the coaches and women in [your program] was instrumental in my road to recovery. Today, I consider myself fit, healthy and an athlete. I competed in a triathlon with my daughter last year, and we plan to do several more this summer.”
3. Before you start, be clear on the end goal
Know what you want as an outcome or how receiving the grant will help you achieve your goal. If you are an elite athlete applying for funding to defray travel expenses to national competition know specific costs for items like: airline tickets, transporting equipment, hotel, plus food. In addition, if you do receive the funding what is your end goal and how does it relate to the grant criteria? The end goal might be to increase draft-legal racing experience with elite athletes.
Sample Question: How do you plan to use the funds and how will they further your mission?
Vague Answer: I cannot handle all of the workload and need more staff to meet the demands and grow our program.
Better Answer: The funds will be used for professional staff development. It will help pay for a coach to advance to Level II certification. In 2014 we experienced a surge in participation and grew by 30 percent. In order to meet the demand, a Level II Certified Coach would be able to help 10 girls who have expressed a desire to compete at a higher level. Our mission is to increase opportunities for elite-level competitors.
4. Outline project and realistic budget
Before you even fill out the application have your plan or project outlined with specific goals and prepare a budget. A helpful exercise is to be able to articulate e.g., practice your pitch with a colleague and explain how you will use the funds to implement that plan or project. You should know:
a) How much the plan will cost
b) Who will manage the plan or program
c) How many hours and additional resources will be required
5. Supplemental documents
Does the application ask for letters of support? Be sure these are relevant. If it suggests including photos, choose high-quality, in-focus shots that support the grant description and are also in the format suggested e.g., do not send in a .pdf if the application asks for a .jpg or .gif image.
6. Success and sustainability
Know in advance how you will measure your success. It could be an increase in a number of participants from a specific demographic e.g., 10 seniors or to send low-income participants to a skills camp. Know in advance if you plan to use a pre- and post-survey and testimonials to measure success. In addition, identify how you will be able to sustain your program with or without the funding.
7. Submit a complete application
Once a draft application is complete, set it aside for a day and then come back and re-read it. Always have someone else with fresh eyes review the answers before hitting the “send” button.
8. Questions? Contact grant administrator
If you have questions or doubt about any aspect of the process email or call the grant administrator. Having the best information not only benefits you but the grant reviewers want to receive the best possible applications.
9. Deadline and due date
Do not wait until the last minute and be sure to submit the application on time. Don’t miss out on the available grant opportunities.
Good luck and apply away!
About the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee
The USA Triathlon Women’s Committee is focused on creating a resource for female athletes of all levels and socioeconomic backgrounds by mentoring professional growth for women in the sport of triathlon. The Women’s Committee is concentrating on the quality of training as well as opportunities available for women in positions of authority and decision-making within associations that govern the sport. The WC is a national committee of women from all over the U.S. with a variety of professions and diverse levels of participation in triathlon.