The 5 Things to Consider In Obtaining Funds and Grants
By Tammy North, P.E.
1. DO start early! The process to obtain funding for a project can take years to complete depending on the funding source. The sooner you get started, the more options you will have and the better your chances of obtaining funding. Start to think about funding options as you master plan projects. Funding could drive how you want to approach a project. It is never too soon to start.
2. DO look into the many different funding options available! Do not limit yourself to what has been done in the past or the traditional avenues. Some possibilities will allow funding to come from multiple sources. From grants, to low interest loans (both public and privately offered), there are many options. It pays to shop around. Recently, we found that traditional bonding would give a greater return than obtaining a loan from the State because of the interest rate available–not something that would normally be expected; and, an option that could have been overlooked. It pays to be thorough. Literally.
3. DO get to know the restrictions, requirements, and limitations associated with the funding sources you are pursuing! All alternatives are not the same. Some choices add significant administrative time or extra inspections and documentation. Some funding options will add as much as two times the cost to a project because of the required extra work and limitations on allowable contractors and materials. Other selections require matching funds which can sometimes be supplied via in-kind labor. These factors are important to know and understand prior to choosing where to obtain the funding.
4. Do the necessary up front work to make sure your application is accurate and thorough! Talk to the funding agency to make sure that you are providing the information that they want on the application. What are their goals and objectives and how well does that align with your project? Have you scoped the project thoroughly with accurate cost estimates and time lines? Too often, people are so concerned with completing the application that they do not take the time to outline the project and find themselves needing additional funding or being delayed because of inadequate planning.
5. DON’T give up! Funding a project takes lots of time and energy and can get frustrating at times. Keep at it–the funding you receive can literally make or break a project.