Key Tips and How-Tos

Identify what resources you need

Identify your goals and objectives

Build and nurture relationships with potential donors and contacts within funding agencies

You can’t get it if you don’t ask for it!

Learn the grant processes of each funding agency

Be a good steward


Identify what resources you need


  • Keep in mind the four major resources needed to implement programs:

    • 1. Personnel – this includes all individuals involved in marketing, conducting the programs and training workshops, coordinating class logistics, program evaluation, and data collection, entry and reporting;

      2. Instructional Resources – identifying the program(s) you are seeking funding for and the materials needed;

      3. Space, equipment and supplies;

      4. Financial resources

  • To make the programs cost-effective, you’ll want to obtain enough funding to cover your expenses.


    See: Sample budget worksheet and sample program budget. Use these to help you figure out your expenses and need for financial support


Identify your goals and objectives


  • Ask the right questions early:

    • What is the scope of your plan? How many sites and programs do you want to support?
    • What will it take to support your plan?

  • Decide on the objectives you would like to achieve for your programs and determine how they affect your funding:

    • Do you need funding to grow your existing programs?
    • Do you plan to grow your programs into new areas of your state or region? If so, does this change the landscape of funding sources available to you?
    • Are you planning to introduce your programs into a new area of diversity? If yes, does this open up new funding possibilities based on your target audience?


Build and nurture relationships with potential donors and contacts within funding agencies


  • Never ask a stranger or a new funding source for money. Individual donors and representatives of funding agencies who do not know you or the programs you represent will probably not give you money.
  • Go into your community and meet prospective donors and representatives of potential funding agencies. Learn as much as possible about your potential donors and these agencies, e.g., their interests, needs and what they want to accomplish through giving.
  • Nurture your relationships. If you ask for funding too soon, you could ruin your chances. Take the time to cultivate a relationship with key contacts within funding agencies to increase your chance of acquiring funding.

  • See:
    Foundations: Types and Sources of Information tip sheet
    How to Research Foundations tip sheet
    How to Work Effectively with Foundations tip sheet


You can’t get it if you don’t ask for it!

Select the best approach and implement your plan. Listed below are some possible ways to secure funding for programs. Select the most appropriate approaches for your situation. AF program staff should work with their development staff colleagues to develop and implement these fund-raising efforts.


  • Apply for grants. Grant money may come from public sources or from local or federal foundations. Many communities have a community foundation or local trust whose funds must be spent locally. The next section provides more information about the grant process.
  • Seek line item support. Work to put the AF programs as a line item in partnering agencies’ existing budget. Organizations may be willing if your operating costs aren’t too high.
  • Solicit in-kind support.  Ask partnering agencies or the broader community. In-kind support can include goods, people and services. Examples include giveaway items, services or door prizes for training workshops and program class participants; free pool time or classroom space for trainings and class sessions; marketing services; printing of promotional materials or leader newsletters; mailing costs; as well as other donated goods and services.
  • Pursue third-party funding, e.g., from a health plan or self-insured business. Third parties are those not directly involved in program delivery. Choose third parties that have an interest in programs with positive health outcomes and cost-savings.
  • Consider fee-for-service. When you need to make the programs cost-effective, consider developing a fee-for-service structure in which program participants pay nominal class fees that cover your program costs. Many AF chapters have established scholarship programs to help those who may need assistance with the class fees.

  • See:
    Sample Scholarship Materials from the Central Ohio, Michigan, Eastern Missouri and Virginia chapters

  • Share marketing and program costs. In some cases, AF chapters have required sites hosting the AF Aquatic or AF Exercise Program to pay a nominal partnership fee. The fees are used to cover promotional materials, educational materials and other auxiliary program costs.
  • Advocate for state funding. By working with your legislators, you may be able to get public funding on an annual or ongoing basis.


Learn the grant processes of each funding agency


  • Before submitting a grant, learn about the agency’s Request for Proposal and grant process. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What is the purpose of the grant?
    • Am I eligible?
    • What are the expectations of the funding agency?
    • What are the review criteria and review processes?
    • What is the award availability?
    • Keep in mind the following when submitting your proposal:
    • Follow the formatting instructions;
    • Meet the deadlines;
    • Match your needs with theirs; and
    • Have the proposal reviewed.

  • Consider the following regarding grant review and reporting:

    • Make sure you understand the details of the agency’s review process.
    • Make sure to inquire about the success rate.
    • Ask if you will receive reviewer’s comments.
    • Find out whether you will be allowed to apply again if you don’t receive the funding on the first round.



Be a good steward for donors and funding agencies


  • Be accountable -- provide your funding agencies and donors with data regarding program reach, outcome data, return on investment and other information relevant to your proposal objectives.
  • Recognize donors – make sure you take the time to recognize the people and organizations that make your programs possible. Saying  thank you in a public manner, such as at a benefit, gala or scheduled event, is a great way to show how much you appreciate their contributions.

  • See:
    After Funding Has Been Received tip sheet



The Arthritis Foundation, Massachusetts Chapter has been successful in obtaining grant funding to support several different projects. The chapter suggests the following tips:


  • Stick exactly to the Request for Proposal requirements.
  • Read between the lines. Look at what the foundation has already funded.
  • If you have questions of the grantor, ask them in a respectful and organized way.
  • When communicating with the grantor, use it as another opportunity to “sell” the project.  Don’t call too much!
  • Use local BRFSS data as much as possible to document the need.
  • Be very clear about the plan (the blueprint); show names of those who will be responsible for certain parts of the grant work (show their credentials because it lends credibility).
  • Make the proposal graphically appealing and professional.
  • Ensure that your budget request is realistic.
  • If the grantor makes a site visit, be sure you have representation from all those partners involved in the work of the grant.




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