Is Your Organization Grant-Ready for 2022?

The first step towards winning a grant is creating your organization’s grant readiness checklist. A grant readiness checklist is a necessary asset because securing those large dollar amounts comes with a good deal of work.

In this article, we’ll answer what it means to be grant-ready, how to become a grant-ready organization and give you a grant readiness checklist to work with and tailor to your organization.

Let’s begin!

What Does Being Grant-Ready Look Like?

Grant readiness is a measurement of your organization’s capacity to research, apply, and most importantly, win! Additionally, it’s your organization’s ability to manage its grant applications successfully.

If you run or work for a nonprofit, you should know that your organization cannot afford to simply gamble its time and resources on applying for each and every grant available. First, you’ll want to consider implementing these proven strategies for becoming grant-ready.

Look Out for Organizational, Programmatic, and Financial Readiness

Throughout the year, we’ll go more in-depth into what each of these bullet points means, but for now, we’ve created this list to prepare you for what signs to look out for. Ensuring that you have a solid organizational foundation is the first step in getting your nonprofit grant ready. Grant-ready organizations should:

  • Have been incorporated with Articles of Incorporation and received tax-exempt 501(c)3 status.
  • Have a clearly defined mission statement.
  • Have an invested and diverse Board of Directors, along with key community stakeholders.
  • Demonstrate organizational credibility and competency.
  • Be established in the community with both formal and informal partnerships. 
  • Have measured outcomes in impact on your community. 

Too often, nonprofits find a grant opportunity and then rush to design a program that meets the specific requirements and scope of the funder’s priorities. This leads to a stressful and chaotic scramble to prepare a proposal that will likely not be successful. To be fully ready to submit an award-winning grant, an organization should:

  • Have strong and sustained programs that are already operating. 
  • Have a concise description of programs or services that includes goals and objectives, activities, and any key outcomes if you’ve already implemented the program or service. 
  • Have strong organization capacity.
  • Maintain reliable data demonstrating a specific need within the community that comes from the last three years
  • Have SMART objectives outlined.

All funders will be interested in where their dollars will be spent and how it will be handled. As such, many grant applications will require proof of your organization’s fiscal capacity to handle new funds. Financial signs of your grant readiness include:

  • A strong financial strategy with appropriate tracking measures in place. 
  • Most recent overall organization budget and individual program budgets. 
  • An accurate list of past, current, and pending funding. 
  • Adequate internal support when it comes to reporting.
  • A recent tax return (990). 

Wondering When To Apply For Grants?

Use this five-question grant readiness checklist to help you measure your organization’s grant readiness and determine when will be the best time to apply.

1. Are You Eligible?

Assuming that your organization has already been incorporated, the first step to becoming grant-ready will be securing your organization’s 501(c)3 tax-exempt letter. These letters can be requested from the IRS for all public nonprofits with registered 501(c)3 status. You may also be asked for:

  • Employer Identification Number
  • Federal Grants- you will have to register at and and a DUNS number (Data Universal Numbering System)
  • Additional requirements may be listed in the RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFA (Request for Application)

2. Is the Purpose and Vision Clear?

Funders are looking for organizations that are unique and do not duplicate similar services in their particular area. Your mission statement should clearly outline your specific strategy of addressing an issue in your community and stand out among other organizations working towards similar goals. Not only should your purpose be clear in your organization, but you should also ensure that your mission is realistic and accomplishable.

3. Are You Making an Impact?

All nonprofits should conduct regular analysis of program impacts and staff successes that is verifiable through hard data.

It is also important that your programs maintain a good reputation for service delivery and assisting clients with their needs. Another way to highlight your organization to funders is through letters of support from community leaders and partners.

4. Are your Resources and Infrastructure Adequate?

These include both physical and nonphysical resources. Does your organization have adequate facilities, transportation, and financial resources to sustain current operations?

How about financial tracking abilities or a donor management system, updated software, and computer systems?

Are staff appropriately supported with sufficient capacity for your current clients, are there efficient operating systems in place, and an enthusiastic base of volunteers to help your organization?

5. How Are Your Organization’s Finances?

Before accepting a new influx of funds, you first must ensure that your current finances are stable. You should have diverse revenue streams that are tracked accurately across your organization’s various programs and services. If you’re expecting your nonprofit to grow, and grow quickly, you want to ensure appropriate financial management systems are in place beforehand.

The competitive world of grants can be intimidating, but it’s also exciting and can significantly impact your organization. And although grant writing is not easy, there are plenty of helpful resources online to help you start securing funds for your organization.

By honestly evaluating your organization’s grant readiness, you can ensure that you are in the best position to successfully win a grant.

If you’re looking to start finding good-fit funders for your nonprofit, look no further. Our team at Ascend NBS is made up of grant writing experts and professionals who are ready to help get your nonprofit to the next level. For more information about our grant writing services and how we can help your organization grow, visit us at or shoot us a message at [email protected]