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What Is A Grant?

Sometimes, simple questions – like the above title – do not have simple answers. Let’s first start with a definition (thanks Wikipedia!): Grants are funds disbursed by one party (grant makers), often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a nonprofit entity, institution or an individual. In order to receive a grant, some form of “grant writing” often referred to as a proposal, application or a request is usually required.

At the Sonora Area Foundation, grant applications are not simply signed off for approval and a check sent out. Each one is carefully considered for whether the applicant is eligible for funding. We look at the organization and its role in the community; the rationale for funding and how it will impact quality of life factors; a plan of action for the program or project; whether other sources of funding are available or pursued; anticipated results of the project; how it will be sustained and supported in the future; and the amount requested and how it affects our grant budget for the year.
When one digs a little deeper, good grant making tends to be so much more than what is defined above. For example, for some grant makers, a grant is a piece of the puzzle of funding that allows a project or services to continue. For others, a grant is an opportunity to be able to provide critical services within the community. A grant can also be a game changer, like the scholarships awarded to those with financial needs.

A grant provides motivation; is an incentive; a leg up; is about accepting responsibility. At the heart of it all, a grant is about making a difference.

Not all grant requests can be funded, or even partially funded. Sometimes, after a reasoned analysis of all of the above factors, a grant request has to be declined. That does not mean that the grant seeker’s request is unimportant, because they all are in one form or another.

You support good grant making when you decide to open a donor fund or generously give a gift to one of the funds held by the Sonora Area Foundation. Lin Freer, Cathi Nies and I can be contacted at the Foundation’s office at 362 S. Stewart Street in Sonora or by calling 533-2596. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how you can provide some definition to what is a grant and making a difference!