NEW BUFFALO — Helping nonprofit organizations understand how to apply for local grants is why the Berrien Community Foundation is hosting five grant tours this month.

“We wanted to make sure that all of Berrien County would feel they could approach us and learn more and possibly have funding and help with their projects,” said Susan Matheny, program director for the foundation. “Our goal is, really, to have our resources meet the needs in our community. If we don’t go to the community to help them do it, then we’re not going to get there.”

Matheny said she started holding grant tours every other year a few years ago, but they were stopped when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

During the first grant tour Thursday at the New Buffalo Township Library, 12 people from six organizations learned about the 11 grant programs administered by the foundation. The grant information, listed on a single page, included deadlines, what organizations are eligible and how to apply.

She said people need to understand what is being looked for so nonprofits can write successful grant applications. The biggest thing they need is a well-thought-out plan.

“Plans get funded. Ideas do not,” Matheny said.

Organizations giving out grants usually look for signs of community support. She said one recent successful grant request listed several fundraising activities the group had done, along with how many people had donated money.

“What that shows is that the community wants this,” she said.

Matheny said community support can also be shown by the number of people volunteering with the organization.

“All this builds a picture showing that the community really wants this to happen, so will you please help us make this happen,” she said. “That’s a really good tip, I think, for writing your grant case.”

Matheny said she reads at least 400 grant applications every year and is willing to talk with people about their grant requests.

“I try to be honest with people,” she said. “... I’m trying to get good grants funded, great projects off the ground (for a) better community, better world. This is the community I live in.”

Matheny said the same information will be presented at four more grant tours, which will all be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The remaining stops on the grant tour include:

Sept. 8 at the Berrien Springs Public Library at 215 W. Union, Berrien Springs

Sept. 12 at the Coloma Public Library at 151 W. Center St., Coloma

Sept. 13 at the Niles/Buchanan YMCA at 905 N. Front St., Niles

For more information, contact Program Officer Chris Hurdle at 983-3304.

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