I was on a phone call with Daniel Todd (CAE) at MICPA and he mentioned using Grant funding for some projects at MICPA. This immediately set off my spidey sense and we talked at length about Grants in a later conversation. I decided to write this article based upon his experiences and advice, in case it helps some other Associations find funding for their own projects.
So how do you get this juicy yet illusive Grant money as an Association? It starts with relationships.
MICPA (in particular its executive staff, such as Peggy Dzierzawski (CEO)) has a great working relationship with the Michigan State Board of Accountancy (MSBA) and the department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). This is a long running relationship built on trust and betterment of the CPA profession.
The Grants that MICPA has been awarded are funded by CPA licensing and MICPA uses the Grant funds to help solve big problems for the State of Michigan that directly benefit CPAs.
Problems like reducing the work of 6 staff doing manual processes related to CPE tracking for the State, down to an automatic electronic process. It’s very cool stuff, and as you may be aware, using funds effectively is extremely challenging. MICPA kicks butt at being effective thanks to its stellar leadership and experienced staff.
It also doesn’t hurt that previous Governor for the State of Michigan is a CPA, and uniquely understands and values the profession.
Boiled Down (tl;dr)
If you want some Grant money, it ends with filling out forms and starts with targeted, mutually beneficial relationships. In Michigan the MSBA/LARA departments are part of the MICPA family. I’m talking about remembering Birthdays, sending gifts, and providing awards and recognition.
You need to seek out and jump at opportunities to help out - establishing that vital relationship. Demonstrate the value your Association can provide to those entities and to the profession that you serve.
You don’t need to be big to get in the game.
Find an idea you can work with that is funded by the professionals you serve. MICPA’s awarded Grants are funded by the very profession it serves and are used for specific projects that benefit the profession.
You don’t need to be a great writer or hire a Grant writer to be awarded a Grant. Take a look at what others have done in the past and spend a of couple days putting something together. When asking for money, specify who is going to benefit and why. The Grant application itself is just putting those ideas into a particular format.
Special thanks to Daniel Todd at MICPA for sharing his experiences and expertise.
I hope this article gives you a little inspiration and courage to try something new. Afterall the only certainty of failure is to not try. If you have some Grant advice or experiences for Nonprofits and Associations, please share! If you read this article and get a Grant, please let us know!