May 25, 2022

Is There a Grant for That?

Funding is Available for All Kinds of City Projects

City officials constantly look for ways to bolster the budget, and grants can be a powerful resource for cities of all sizes. When you take the time to look, there are grants and funders for all types of city projects and programs. If you don’t take the time to consider what’s out there, you may be leaving money on the table.

That’s why the Kentucky League of Cities partnered with GrantStation, one of the world’s largest grant and funding sites. KLC is the nation’s first municipal league to establish this unique relationship, giving all KLC members direct access to GrantStation by simply logging in to the KLC website at

GrantStation has thousands of funders and can sound overwhelming, but it is the opposite. Instead, it guides users in defining what they need and helps narrow the search as part of the process.

Research from this year’s 2022 State of Grantseeking Survey found that the median largest award from non-governmental funders was $37,000, and the median largest grant from government funders was $257,000.

While grant research takes time, experts say the first thing to consider is why you need it. Determine your objectives and assess where grants could fit your city. For instance, if one of your city’s goals is to enhance your play spaces, that can be a great project for a grant. If your police department is ready to replace bulletproof vests, there are several providers and grantors for them, and the list goes on.

The first step in being successful with grants is an important one. Look at your upcoming budget and long-term projects and think about which could be supported by a grant. You’d be surprised how many funding sources are available. That’s where GrantStation comes in.

  1. Look at your upcoming budget, department by department.
  2. What are the anticipated purchases and projects?
  3. Have your costs and planning confirmed.
  4. Assign a city official or staff member to check GrantStation for funding sources.

Recent research shows that applying for at least three grants increased the frequency of receiving one. Ninety-one percent of organizations that submitted three to five applications received at least one grant, while 96% of those submitting six to 10 applications received at least one. Ninety-eight percent of organizations that submitted 11 or more applications received at least one grant.

Before launching your search, consider your goals. GrantStation recommends setting goals for an 18-to-24-month period for your grant program. The playground example might be a two- to three-year building project.

After you generate your goals, the next step is developing annual objectives. These are measurable, not visionary. Your goal may be to build a brand-new play space for the playground. Your objective could be to obtain 50% of the funding from grants over two years, and you can gauge this to determine whether you achieved it.

Here are some examples of good, measurable objectives.

  • Submit a minimum of 11 applications within the 18-month period.
  • Secure five grant awards within the first six months.
  • Raise a minimum of $20,000 from regional businesses within the first year.
  • Receive a minimum of $30,000 in general operating support via grants each year.
  • Secure a minimum of $300,000 in grant awards within two years.

There are many considerations and realities when applying for grants. You need some idea of when the money, if awarded, will be released. Seventy-five percent of respondents from The State of Grantseeking Survey said funds were released within three months of being notified of the award.

You should have an idea of the size of the award you can expect to make sure your budget supports the project’s cost. The State of Grantseeking Survey cites the following trends:

  • The largest percentage of grant recipients scored awards in the range of $10,000 and $50,000.
  • Grants between $500,000 and $1 million were reported by 5% of respondents.
  • Awards of less than $10,000 were reported by 17% of respondents.

Keep these statistics in mind as you establish your program objectives, and remember that a good objective is specific and realistic.

If you are starting from scratch and don’t currently have a grant writer, or you submit very few grant requests, then start with conservative objectives. For example, if your organization is relatively small and has never secured a grant, you should keep your monetary goals modest. If your overall budget is $75,000, try to raise 5% to 10% of that budget through grants.

GrantStation is an excellent tool to help you search for specific types of funding. KLC also offers a running list of up to 90 grants specifically relevant to cities that is updated weekly. Find funding sources and learn more about writing and submitting grants in KLC’s 2020_HowtoGrantWritingGuidebook.pdf.

Now is the perfect time to consider grant-seeking as a part of your city’s regular process. Every Kentucky city now has some experience with grants by simply accepting the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. KLC staff is ready to help cities explore sources on the KLC and GrantStation sites.