Before applying for grants, consider the following recommendations in order to write the best possible grant application.
Grant Proposal Best Practices¶
- Don’t commit to performers, venues, etc. until funding is secured.
- Recommend applying as far in advance as possible. Apply 2-3 grant cycles in advance, at minimum.
- Have an advisor review a draft of your proposal and budget for feedback prior to submission.
- Understand your financial obligations as a student group and complete the Financial Management Training course as soon as possible if you think your group may apply for an SAO grant during the year. Students may sign up at z.umn.edu/trainingssignup (opens in a new tab).
New applicants and RSO groups who have made changes to their group's official name name and need to update their W-9 are encouraged to submit the ACH/New Group Set-Up Form prior to submitting a proposal. This allows the Grants Team to get a head start on setting groups up as a vendor with the University, which often takes the most time in getting groups paid.
When should my group apply?¶
Student groups and departments should apply for funding as early as possible to ensure that there is funding available for their event. We recommend a minimum of two grant cycles (deadlines) before your event date in order to receive funding prior to your event. Please review the grant application deadlines at z.umn.edu/saograntdeadlines (opens in a new tab). SUA grants will not be awarded for events that have already taken place. Due to the volume of grants we receive, we cannot make exceptions to the deadlines.
How can we make our proposal stand out?¶
Ensure that you are reviewing all grant criteria (opens in a new tab) ahead of time and answering all questions to the best of your ability. Be sure to emphasize how your group's program or event promotes student development, enhances diversity, and/or benefits the campus community in your application. Additionally, make sure your application explains your event in clear and concise detail. Your budget should give a full picture of the entire event, not just what you expect the grant to fund. Your proposal and budget should align and explain to the committee exactly what you are planning. Remember, the grant committee may not know anything about your group or your event.
How much detail should our proposal include?¶
Assume that the people reading your proposal have no prior knowledge about your group, program, or event. More details in your proposal makes it easier for the committee to understand the value of your event.
Your budget should also be detailed and complete. This includes documenting all anticipated event expenses, even those not covered by SAO grants, and anticipated income above and beyond SAO grants needed to cover the anticipated event expenses. Groups are encouraged to ask vendors for quotes prior to completing the budget. The information provided in the application and budget should align.
First-time applicants (individuals, not groups) are encouraged to set up a meeting with their assigned Student Group Service Advisor at z.umn.edu/studentgroupadvising (opens in a new tab). Meeting with an advisor does not guarantee grant funding, but will increase your chances of being tentatively awarded.
How much detail should our financial section include?¶
The financial section of your application should be as specific and accurate as possible. Groups are encouraged to contact vendors for quotes prior to applying for grants. Additionally, make sure that the information in the financial section reflects the information found elsewhere in the application.
What types of supplies can SAO grants fund?¶
Supplies that are specific to the event (i.e. equipment rental, food, honorariums, etc.) are considered programming expenses and can be funded by SAO grants. Supplies that are intended for group use beyond the event (i.e. computers, audio equipment, uniforms/apparel, etc.) are considered operational and are not eligible for funding.
Prizes or giveaways (i.e. gift cards, awards, thank you gifts) also cannot be funded by SAO grants.
A full list of allowable and unallowable expenses is found at z.umn.edu/unallowableexpenses (opens in a new tab).
Can SAO grants fund our student group meeting expenses?¶
No, meeting expenses are considered operational. SAO grant funding is intended to support activities, programs, and special events that promote student development.
A full list of allowable and unallowable expenses is found at https://z.umn.edu/unallowableexpenses.
How much funding can we receive per event? What about per year?¶
The amount you can receive per event depends on a number of factors. There are a variety of different grant initiatives, each of which has different criteria. Each grant initiative has a maximum award amount per event, and groups can receive funding from multiple initiatives for a single event. Please review the grant eligibility chart (opens in a new tab) to view funding eligibility. Registered student groups may receive up to $10,000 per year.
Where can we find additional funding?¶
If my group is not awarded, can we reapply for the same event?¶
Yes, your group can apply again, as long as you apply within the application deadline (opens in a new tab). SAO grants will not be awarded for events that have already taken place. We recommend applying at least 2 (two) cycles in advance to allow your group a chance to reapply for SAO grants, if needed. Student Activities Advisor is happy to meet with any group and provide feedback from the Grants Review Committee to help improve your proposal.
Can someone meet with us to review our application before we apply?¶
Yes, the grants assistant is more than happy to meet with you, answer questions, and review your application prior to submitting. You can schedule a general advising appointment with your assigned Student Group Service Advisor to review your application at z.umn.edu/studentgroupadvising (opens in a new tab).
If we are awarded, how long will it take to receive our grant funding?¶
Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) will have their check ready for pickup or has been mailed to them 4-6 weeks after their application is approved. It will take 3-4 weeks to receive funding for RSOs that choose the ACH option after all requirements have been completed. Initial ACH set-up may be an additional 4 weeks before payment can be processed.
Campus Life Programs (CLPs) will receive their grant award through EFS transfer within 2-3 weeks of submitting their Statement of Agreement.
My group has been tentatively awarded SAO Grant funding for the first time, are there any other additional action items my group should complete?¶
New applicants are required to schedule a pre-event meeting with their assigned SAO advisor (opens in a new tab). All groups must submit a completed Statement of Agreement. Each classification has its own Statement of Agreement, so please fill out the correct form when submitting.
Awarded groups should also utilize the appropriate grant logo(s) in promoting the event. These are found on the Grant Recipient Files page.
Can my group serve beverages that are not Coca-Cola products at our event?¶
Due to the current Coca Cola contract with the University any beverage served at events funded by SAO Grants must be a Coca-Cola Products. Exceptions to this rule are beverages made on site or provided by a licensed caterer. A list of Coca Cola products for groups to use can be found on theCoca-Cola Brand Sheet (opens in a new tab).
Do I need to keep all event receipts?¶
Yes, everyone should be keeping all event receipts. Itemized receipts and/or paid invoices will be required for your post-event form. Only PDFs, JPEGs, or PNGs will be accepted. Please review the Acceptable Documentation resource (opens in a new tab) prior to submitting your post-event form. Student Groups should also review record retention requirements (opens in a new tab) for student groups and create a sustainable system for recording, retaining, and passing on information to future officers.
What feedback can my group expect from the Grants committee?¶
Based on feedback from the Grants Committee, groups may be required to meet with a Student Activities Office Advisor before their funding request is processed. This requirement will be communicated via their award notification. Pre-Event meetings must be scheduled with their assigned SUA advisor within 2 weeks of their award notification. Failure to do so by this deadline may result in their award being forfeited.
Additionally, the Grants Committee may provide feedback in the Grants Committee Review tab of the grant proposal and budget document.
Can my group move our event date?¶
It depends. Events may be pushed back, but not into the next fiscal year which ends June 30th. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the updated date for eligibility and to update our records.
Is there an appeals process?¶
No. Decisions made by the committee are final. We recommend applying two cycles ahead of time to allow groups to reapply.