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It's often challenging to locate funders who award renovation grants, and when you do, it can be difficult to conceptualize such a less traditional proposal. The reality, however, is that time-tested grant writing formulas can work. When you document a strong need for capital improvements, outline a project design and provide a reasonable budget, your submission will have a true competitive edge.
Unless you receive an inside lead, conduct specialized searches to find renovation grants from both private and government funders. Each has its own requirements. The government offers free searchable databases through Grants.gov and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Listings include eligibility criteria, deadlines and application instructions. Private funders can also be identified through subscription databases like Foundation Directory Online or FoundationSearch. Queries to these directories will lead to foundation contacts, financial information and history of renovation funding along with how to apply.
Begin your request with a statement of need. Renovation needs include, but are not limited to, providing a safe and secure environment, minimizing hazards to health, disaster recovery, supporting operational expansion or improving efficiency. In some cases, it is also appropriate to state needs that are aspirational. An example of an aspirational need is to perform renovations in a K-12 school that inspire students’ intellects, spark creativity and reflect the overall integrity of the educational program. Incorporate statistics or report findings from objective sources whenever possible.
Offer a detailed project description. This description should include measurable objectives, specific activities, responsible parties and a timeline. Given that facilities projects can include having to work with outside parties and arising contingencies, designate a project manager to monitor and assess progress on a regular basis. Your timeline should take into account contractor schedules, inclement weather and other unanticipated events.
All expenses in your budget should be practical and cost effective. Pre-development activities might be included such as a feasibility study or architectural renderings. Unique expenses can also be associated with meeting zoning laws, building codes and environmental “green” standards. A good portion of funds will be devoted to paying contractors to undertake the renovation themselves. A host of material costs such as lighting, carpeting and paint should also be projected.
When identifying funders be sure to pursue those who specifically support “building/renovation,” “facilities” or “capital.” This is often stated in the purpose section of a request for proposals or among a funder’s philanthropic priorities.
Follow each funder’s guidance regarding allowable budget costs, which tend to fall into specific categories in the case of facilities projects.
Kenya Lucas has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in “Anthropology & Medicine,” “New Directions for Evaluation,” “Psychology of Women Quarterly” and “Journal of the Grant Professionals Association.” She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Brown University.