Tips for Writing a Successful Grant Application
No official application form is used for the application process; all sections of the application are to be written in narrative form, following the requirements found on the Grant Application Instruction Sheet.
Applications are limited to eight single-sided pages of which the first page must be a DAR chapter or state organization sponsorship letter, the second is page one of the applicant's public charity 501(c)(3) IRS tax determination letter, and the third is the grant cover page. The project narrative comprises the balance of the grant application. Project pictures are encouraged, since applications containing pictures tend to be judged more highly. Detailed instructions are available below.
Each Special Projects Grants application packet must include a:
- Sponsorship letter: A letter of sponsorship must be written and signed by a current DAR chapter or state organization officer.
- IRS public charity 501(c)(3) tax determination letter (page one only): If the applicant's employee identification number ("EIN") is not reflected on page one of the applying entity's tax determination letter, it should be written on the page. Each grant applicant's EIN will be verified to confirm that the entity's 990, 990-EZ or 990-N filing status is current. If the applicant's filing status is not current, the application will be disqualified. The grant applicant’s name must appear on the IRS tax determination letter, or proof is required that the applicant’s name is “also known as” (aka) or “doing business as” (dba) the name on the IRS tax determination letter. If the national chair is unable to independently verify this information, the application will be disqualified. Sponsorship by a third-party 501(c)(3) is not allowed.
One page grant cover letter including the following:
- The amount, rounded to the nearest dollar, requested in grant funds; this amount requires 1:1 matching secured funds
- The total project amount, or phase amount of a large dollar project
- A designation of historic preservation, education or patriotism as the area pertaining to the grant proposal (one designation only)
- All contact information, including a valid email address, for the entity, the entity's principal officer, and the entity's EIN are required, as well as the name and contact information, including a valid email address, of the individual writing the grant proposal
- The project name and a brief description of the project, including the purpose for the grant application
Grant application narrative: The narrative, following the requirements listed on the Grant Application Instruction Sheet, is written in a paragraph format, using the following headings:
- Outline of the project
- Need and urgency of the project
- Benefit of the project to the community
- DAR recognition to be generated
- Project activities' timeline
- Budget (see the budget section below and the NOTE on the Grant Application Instruction Sheet)
- List of all amounts and sources of secured funding in place to complete the total project
- List, separate from the budget, any in-kind contributions which will be used to complete the project
- List any ongoing financial support, if applicable
A well-written grant application narrative usually fills the five pages available. The use of the following headings is strongly recommended.
Outline of the Grant Project Details
In this section, include:
- Information on the history of the applying organization and/or history of the project
- Information on the community or area
- A list of the specific phases of the grant project, if applicable
- An emphasis on how the project exemplifies the area of historic preservation, education or patriotism
- A project outline (this is a large portion of the grant proposal narrative)
Need and Urgency
List the reasons for the need and urgency of the project
Benefits to the Community
- Describe the specific groups which will benefit from the project
- Demonstrate how the grant will benefit the community and the surrounding area
- Describe how the grant will provide short or long-term benefit to specific groups in the community
Describe How NSDAR Recognition for the Project will be Generated
Examples of media sources available:
- Newspaper press releases
- Radio and television spots
- Memorial plaques or interpretive display signage
- Inside cover book labels for printed material
- Organization webpages and/or newsletters
- Dedication ceremonies
- Museum exhibits
- Signage in front of buildings during work on grant projects
Specific Timeline of Project Activities
- Month and year start date of the project
- Phase completion dates during the project
- Month and year of the estimated project end date (The grant application timeline requires a completion date within one year; the official grant year is July 1 – June 30.)
- The project, or phase of a large project, must not begin before announcement of the success of the grant award (May 1st)
Example: A grant application submitted by the December 31, 2014 postmark deadline, if approved, receives half of the grant funding in June, 2015 and the second half of the funding upon the final report of completion submitted to the committee national chairman. The grant project completion is required to be within one year beginning July, 2015.
Budget – Cost of the Project
- Only eligible expenses should be included in the project budget. (See FAQs page for further information.)
- The preferred budget format is a spreadsheet, although a list, chart or table is acceptable, which includes itemized eligible expenses of the project
- In the budget list or table, note the use of 1:1 matching secured funds toward expenses of the project.
- Include a column on the budget spreadsheet, reflecting all sources of funding in place for the eligible expenses of the project.
List Separately from the Budget Any In-kind Contributions
- In-kind contributions of labor or materials must not be included in the Budget spreadsheet as a project expense, but must be listed separately for informational purposes only.
- In-kind contributions may not be used as matching funds for the grant project
- Donated in-kind time will be valued at $15 per hour or documented for professional services
Specific Phase Budget for a Phased Project
When a grant request is for a single phase of a phased project, include only the phase budget for which grant funds are sought when completing the grant proposal.
Example: A $100,000 project planned to be completed in three phases, with DAR Special Projects Grant funding requested for the second phase:
- Phase One - $30,000 – (completed prior to applying for the Special Projects Grant)
- Phase Two - $20,000 – (current phase requesting a $10,000 Special Projects Grant)
- Phase Three - $50,000 – (remaining work needed to complete the project)
In this example, the grant application would include a summary of donors for the completed phase (Phase One), confirmation of the matching $10,000 needed for the Special Project Grant phase (Phase Two), and confirmation that sufficient funds have been secured for Phase Three to ensure the completion of the $100,000 project (Phases One, Two, and Three.)
Large dollar, phased grant projects are more common in areas of historic preservation and patriotism.
Grant Projects Require Listing of Sources of Secured Funding for Completion of the Total Project
Secured funds are acceptable from multiple sources such as other donors and completed fundraising. Funds anticipated from FUTURE fundraising, contributions, phased donations, unawarded grant proceeds, income, admissions, interest, tax credits, etc. are not considered secured funds.
Secured Funding Required for Total Cost of Project, Less Amount of DAR Grant Application
Example: $100,000 total project costs (all phases, including phase for which grants funds are sought)
In order to apply for a $10,000 DAR grant, the applicant must have secured funds of $90,000 in order to assure DAR of completion of the total project. This also applies to large dollar projects.
Ongoing Financial Support (if applicable)
Not all grant projects, once completed, require ongoing financial support. If such support is required for the specific grant project, include the source(s) of all secured funds.
The application must not exceed eight single-sided pages, and is to be arranged in the following order:
- Sponsorship letter
- Page one of the IRS public charity 501(c)(3) tax determination letter
- Grant cover page
- Application narrative
The original application plus four complete copies are required. Application copies are to be individually stapled and submitted without binder or special covering.
Grant applications must be postmarked on or before December 31 and mailed to the national chairman at her address on the Application Instruction Sheet letterhead.