I was once a grantwriter and nothing brought on the dread quicker than to read that a foundation was looking to fund proposals and organizations that “aligned” with its mission, goals and strategies.
That term, “alignment,” sounded vague and subjective to me. What did that even mean? Now that I’m on this side of the funding equation, I see how, in designing the application process, Meyer’s intention has been not only to determine which organizations and proposals share our priorities, but also to help organizations define their work and think deeply about what they do, how they do it and whom they benefit. So let me help demystify what Meyer means when we speak of alignment. I hope you find the following tips helpful:
— If you received a Meyer grant in the past, take note of how we have refocused
Through our recent redesign, it became clear to us that we wanted to deepen our work with organizations that are working to address the root causes of oppression, structural biases and the systemic inequities that exist within our state. (Read our Equity Statement here.)We know that organizations all over Oregon are protecting our environment, supporting communities and working for affordable and safe housing; we want to go a step further and partner with organizations that not only serve historically marginalized populations, but also value their perspective. We are specifically looking to partner with folks who are already engaged in this work and those who are committed to increasing their impact.
— Check out what we fund and do not fund
There’s a big difference between fit (whether a project does the type of work or proposes to achieve the kinds of results we want to fund) and eligibility. Regardless of how strong a proposal might be, it must meet our eligibility requirements and align with what we seek to support. Our eligibility information can be found here.
— Read about our Goals, Strategies and Desired Outcomes
When you fill out your inquiry application, Meyer asks you to choose one goal with which you feel your work most aligns. Deciding which goal to choose is an important part of the application process, especially if you already have a project in mind or have started a program that doesn’t neatly fit under just one goal. If you feel your work might align with two or more goals within a portfolio, or with goals in different portfolios, choose the goal/portfolio that you think most aligns with your work (e.g., 51% or more of the intended activities can be tied to the goal area). When we review inquiry applications, we will look for good matches between your proposed project and our specific goals.
Some organizations will find an easy fit with our goals and outcomes. Others will find it more difficult. If that’s the case, the next section will hopefully provide more guidance. And if you have questions, we’re happy to help you think this through, just send us an email or give us a call at 503.228.5512.
— Visit our Funding Opportunities page
Once you’ve clarified your eligibility, look at the individual portfolio pages for more information about current funding opportunities. Building Community’s page is here and Healthy Environment’s is here (the Housing Opportunities’ deadline has already passed and Equitable Education will announce its funding opportunities in early 2017). Through Meyer’s portfolio pages, you will find the total available funds for each portfolio, types of grants and dollar ranges for each and what the application process looks like, including a preview of the inquiry questions, deadlines and links to create or update your account in GrantIS (Meyer’s online grant application system).
— Determine if Meyer and your organization share goals and desired outcomes
To help you think about whether your project is a good fit, take our goals and turn them into questions. For example:
Building Community Goal 1: Invest in strategies that dismantle inequities and create new opportunities to advance equity → Does my work/project dismantle inequities and create new opportunities to advance equity?Good question, but not necessarily easy to answer. So look at the intended outcomes under that goal and do the same: put them in question form and see if your organization’s work fits one or more of them. For example:
Building Community Outcome 3. Policy and Systems Change: Increase equitable opportunities and reduce disparities through changes in public policy, systems and institutional practices → How does my project increase (or is looking to increase) equitable opportunities and reduce disparities through changes in public policy, systems and institutional practices?
If you’ve read through the goals and outcomes, have asked yourself those questions and still can’t see alignment between your project and our funding priorities, talk with us. We might be able to help you think about whether there is a fit, or share honestly if we do not see compatibility at this time.
— Decide the type of support you’ll need
What type of support do you need? Is the work underway or just starting out? Do you need an infusion of funds to build your organization’s capacity or are you looking to construct a new building? Click here for the types of support the Healthy Environment portfolio offers and click here for Building Community’s funding types.
— Ask for feedback
If you are not invited to submit a full proposal this time around, please let us know if you would like feedback about your application.
We are looking forward to reading about the great work you all do. Happy grantwriting!