Shaking the Funding Tree: A Guide to Grant Writing for Literacy Programs was developed by California Literacy in partnership with CALPRO in an effort to help literacy programs successfully tap into a wide range of funding sources. The guide has been created especially for literacy providers and offers a step-by-step explanation of how to identify potential funding sources as well as apply for private and public dollars.
The first three sections of this guide concentrate on collecting and organizing the type of information programs need before they begin to write grant proposals. This includes information about the students and the community the organization serves, details about programming, and financial records. The last three sections focus on how to identify potential funding sources and draft letters of inquiry and full grant proposals.
One of the goals of this guide is to help organizations develop a template that can be adapted for multiple grant proposals. Rather than recreate the wheel each time information about a grant is circulated, programs that have taken the time to get organized are ahead of the game. During the grant writing process, time is better spent on drafting the details of a particular project rather than on writing descriptions of the organization itself. Large sections of any proposal should be ready to go at any time.
Another goal of this guide is to help programs prioritize which grants to pursue. Organizations are often tempted to go after funding that is not directly related to the organizationís mission, and they end up spending time working on proposals that most likely will be unsuccessful. By focusing on the mission and strengths of the organization, by being clear about what it is a program or organization does and does not do, programs will spend less time writing grant proposals that have little chance of getting funded.
The guide does not include information about fundraising strategies in general, nor does it include information about other funding sources (such as hosting special events or setting up fee-based programs). It also does not detail how to design a new project, or draft a budget for a program. These are all topics beyond the scope of the guide. The focus here is solely on identifying funding sources to meet the needs of organizations.
In each section, there are templates of helpful charts that can be photocopied and used by the reader. Readers are encouraged to work on the sections and templates that will be most important for them. Throughout the guide, the fictional El Poder Learning Center is used as a case study to provide examples of writing various sections of grants and proposals.