Last year, the St. Louis/Carlton County Pheasants Forever Chapter took home the title of First Runner-Up and $5,000 for their project Habitat for Homecroft in our first-ever Future Forward Fund contest. David Lood submitted the winning application and helped garner support for a project that is very near and dear to his heart. David wanted to share his advice and experience with everyone thinking about applying for our Future Forward Contest 2013. Make sure you submit your application at http://www.sportdog.com/about-us/conservation/grant-programs
What made you decide to apply for a chance to win a grant through SportDOG’s Future Forward Fund contest?
I looked at the scope and intent of our project and compared that to not only SportDOG’s FFF contest goals, but SportDOG’s values and the perceived values of the customer base of SportDOG. I also looked at our membership and supporters and analyzed the potential crossover of our supporters and SportDOG customers. Seeing such an alignment of goals, it seemed like a natural fit.
Was it easy to fill out the application? What all was required in submitting the application?
Yes. Filling out and submitting the application were far easier than any grant application I have ever submitted. The application asked about the scope and reach of the project, identifying an issue and how to address it. The application really helps those who have never really written a grant before, in that it walks you through the basic steps of identifying an issue or project, naming the project (be clever on this, it helps with marketing and generating votes), creating partnerships, and setting a budget, all geared to help create a successful project.
Did you expect to be chosen as a finalist?
I had a firm belief in our project. This was very near and dear to my heart, and I think that passion came through in a well written and thought out plan. Putting together a thought out plan with a passion for the project I think really helped. While in my heart I knew this project was deserving, my mind knows that there are many great projects out there. I guess I would have to say I was hopeful but as anyone who has ever written a grant before knows, you can never expect anything. When I found out we were chosen, my heart almost leaped out of my chest!
How were you and your organization able to rally so much support for your project?
We created a Facebook page, put the information on our website and emailed our friends, family and contacts. I think a YouTube video, Twitter and other social media opportunities were missed and would highly recommend those. What I think really helped us out, was reaching out to local media for coverage as well as reaching out to folks some may have not considered. Our project involved a school, so we reached out to the teachers, school board, community, and the teacher’s union for support. Be creative and resourceful in who you reach out to. In addition, the local YMCA is benefitting from our project so we were able to reach out to those staff.
What advice would you give to other projects that might be considering applying for the Future Forward Contest?
Have a passion for the project. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Use every resource you can think of and do not let up. I know my friends, family and coworkers got tired of me reminding them to vote, but hey, it worked! Be creative in marketing the project, this really garners attention of folks you may not realize. And by all means…APPLY! The greatest thing about this opportunity is that your community gets to vote. Even if your project doesn’t win the grand prize, you will be amazed at the support your community can generate and all that attention to your project is a great thing! Trust me, I know we will apply again.