Rural America includes vibrant communities that find innovative solutions to unique healthcare challenges. Nonprofit organizations and healthcare providers in rural areas rely on government and state funders as well as foundations to help bring new projects to life or sustain crucial, existing services.
Getting a grant is hard work, and can involve numerous, time-intensive steps. Funders hold competitive cycles for grant programs in which rural organizations must compete alongside well-funded, well-prepared organizations with dedicated and experienced grant writing teams. Organizations in rural areas are less likely to have staff members strictly dedicated to grant writing. Community members or staff members who have the most writing or business experience may be chosen by necessity to be responsible for securing funds.
Although rural organizations rely on grant funding, they face many barriers as identified in the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s 2007 report Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue from Within, including:
- Lack of major foundations located in rural areas, leading to fewer networking opportunities
- The ability to show potential impact to funders when serving less densely populated areas
- Perception that rural projects are less sustainable and organized
- Weaker local nonprofit infrastructure
In addition to those barriers, the amount of funding being allocated to rural organizations is significantly smaller per capita when compared to urban counterparts. A 2015 USDA report, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, compares the average value of grants from large foundations given from 2005 to 2010. The report states that organizations based in nonmetro counties received less than half the amount per capita compared to organizations in metro counties.
A great grant proposal isn’t just about requesting funding. Successful grant applications should be thought of as the first step to building sustainable, long-term programs that will increase the health of rural communities. This guide can serve as a starting point for those who need assistance to begin the grant writing process. It will cover tips on searching for rural-specific funding, grant proposal preparation, building successful funding relationships, and planning for program sustainability.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I learn about funding opportunities for rural healthcare organizations?
- I found a grant program that looks like it would work for my rural project. Should I call first or just send in a proposal?
- Does my organization need to be a nonprofit to apply for grants?
- The grant guidance says we need to be rural. What does that mean?
- Does our organization need to hire a grant writing or fundraising consultant?
- Which organizations provide technical assistance to rural grant writers?
- The funder says we need to use an evidence-based model for our program. Where can I find rural evidence-based project examples?
- How do we show that our project addresses a real need?
- How can I find supporting statistics or research for rural health grant proposals?
- Are maps useful to include in our grant application?
- When a funding opportunity requires matching funds, what are some strategies to come up with the match?
- Should we try to find a single funder or should we use multiple funding sources?
- What can we do to make our rural project more sustainable?
- How do we create an evaluation plan to include in our grant proposal?
- How important is networking and collaborating to getting a project funded?
- How do I apply for a federal grant that requires electronic submission?
- Where can I find examples of successful grant proposals?
- Our proposal was rejected. Should we give up?
- Our proposal was funded. How do we live up to our funder’s expectations?
- How can I learn more about preparing grant proposals?