Once you’ve identified your organization’s telehealth needs, you can begin to search for grant funding sources to cover project costs and investments. In the early stages, this process can feel overwhelming — either from not knowing where to begin or from information overload. It’s important to learn the basics of how to find grant funding sources, including the different types of sources available to your organization.
We continue this blog series on telehealth grant funding with an overview of the four main types of funding sources — foundation funding, corporate funding, state funding, and federal funding — and common terminology to categorize them as you begin your research.
Aside from large national foundations, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, foundation funding tends to be either regionally based or specifically focused on the individual foundation’s area of expertise.
Securing grant funding from these foundations often relies on relationship building. Many foundations do not accept unsolicited applications unless they issue requests for proposals. Pivot your approach, identify foundation staff and the decision-makers on the foundation’s board, and develop those relationships.
Additionally, look at foundations that accept applications, and learn when that process takes place. Often foundations are made of family members or boards that may meet once or twice a year. But these foundations don’t always offer defined dates for when the next round of funding and its corresponding application deadlines will be. Still, dedicating time to researching these deadlines could mean opening up new doors to funding opportunities.
Project alignment with grantor goals is critical when seeking corporate sources as part of an overall telehealth grant funding strategy. Corporations may have specific goals or parameters for projects that may exclude or uniquely fit your particular telehealth project, particularly in terms of industry and geographic location.
Investing time into researching corporate funding also means determining how you should approach different corporations. Some corporations have set up separate foundations to handle grant funding, which you’ll be able to find while performing your due diligence. If that’s the case, you may try relationship-building with individuals employed by the corporation or on its foundation board in addition to responding to general requests for proposals.
To utilize state-based grant funding, you need to determine which agencies at the state level are in charge of telehealth and related programs. After making those initial determinations, it’s essential to identify how they accept applications and distribute funds.
For example, some state agencies award funding through competitive applications, while others may distribute the funds based on an internal formula or have funding passed through another entity.
You should determine when agencies will present their schedule for applications so you can have adequate time to put together a competitive proposal. State funding often gives limited application windows, sometimes just six to eight weeks before a proposal is due. And if you’re looking at something complex, like a telehealth proposal, you need to work in advance. That way, when that schedule is released, you’ll know what’s required and expected of your application, and you’ll be more prepared to submit it.
Federal funding typically represents the largest grants. Grantors announce these opportunities regularly on Grants.gov, you should pay close attention to the application submission window. This process takes time, organization, and planning ahead of time — including regular monitoring of the Grants.gov website.
Another aspect of sourcing federal grant funding is being in communication with the federal agencies and their staff. They will share information with you about the next cycle of funding and the amount of federal funding allocated to their programs, which predicates grant funding availability.
Note Whether Funding Sources Are Labeled Active, Inactive, or Pending
While performing your search for grant funding sources, you will come across terms like “active,” “inactive,” and “pending.” These may impact whether and how you include a particular grantor into your application timeline and schedule.
Active programs mean there is money presently available, and the funding source is welcoming new projects to apply for funding. Grantors may accept applications or letters of inquiry year-round or open for applications at limited periods of time throughout the year.
Inactive programs are not currently open to applications for funding. A program could become inactive because they accomplished their goals, revisited their goals, or experienced budget cuts that impacted their ability to fund projects. Inactive could signify an organization is permanently closed to applications, or they may be planning to return to an open, active status in the future.
Pending programs are programs that are not currently awarding grants. It may not be the time of year for their funding applications, or they may be waiting on federal budgets to pass so they can assess funding availability. Pending programs may be especially common during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marian Chambers is a Grants Consultant at Professional Grant Writers, a full-service grant writing agency that works with nonprofit organizations to identify and apply for grants to fund their programs.