photo of wilmington riverfrontWriting Funding Proposals

Given today’s economy and increasing demands for citizen services and programs, many municipalities are being asked to do more with less. Grants or other funding opportunities can help a municipality bridge the gap in resources to achieve community goals.

Receiving grant funds can prove advantageous. A grant can enable a jurisdiction to fund a trail project or recreation program that improves the quality of life and health of its citizens, but these may be considered lower funding priorities than other basic municipal services. Grant funds can enable a municipality to make better use of tax dollars by paying only a portion of the total cost of a project. Grants can also provide “more bang for the buck” by effective leveraging of funds. When a municipality applies for a grant or writes a funding proposal, matching funds are usually required. A municipality can maximize its required match, and effectively leverage funds, by using in-kind donations (e.g., non-cash donations of equipment, labor, volunteer services, value of land) to provide its share of financial support for a project. Conversely, while grants provide financial advantages, there are also drawbacks to seeking funding. The process is often competitive and labor-intensive. Writing a funding proposal requires planning and organization, involves research and data collection, and the preparation of a sound work plan and detailed budget projects.

For most municipalities, obtaining a grant to fund a program or an activity is difficult and remains an elusive wish rather than reality. In recent years, grants and funding opportunities have become more competitive as state, federal, and foundation funding has become more constrained or reallocated to new priority areas. Careful planning and preparation of a funding proposal is essential to meet the challenges of grant writing and to improve a municipality’s chance for a successful grant award.

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