Community Initiatives - Grant Writing for Non-Profit Organizations

Community Initiatives can guide your organization through the process involved in fund raising and grant writing services. We can help determine your organization’s readiness and develop a work plan to achieve your fund raising goals. Community Initiatives has established relationships with funding sources. Proposals and case statements are succinct, to the point and persuasive. After 17 years helping nonprofits achieve their goals, there are few situations we haven't encountered. Please review the Grant Readiness check list and the Steps involved in the grant writing process. Feel free to contact us.

Shirley Stewart
(434) 907-4122

Email Shirley Stewart

Mission and Services

To assist communities, municipalities, non-profit organizations and government agencies achieve their financial goals through fund development and grant writing.

Philosophy: Anyone can write and submit a grant application. Our goal is to develop winning proposals for creditable organizations and worthwhile projects. Grant making organizations review more applications than they can fund and not all grant applications are funded even though the project is worthy and the grant writer has done due diligence. However, Community Initiatives has a high rate of success in achieving funding for clients. It is important to carefully match organizations and their projects to the funding source’s priorities. We tend to have long term relationships with our clients. We believe in the clients we accept, we share their values and we have determined they have the wherewithal to carry out the program for which funding is sought.

A partial list of services we provide:

Create written materials including case statements, grant proposals, newsletters, and annual reports.

Build prospect data base of funders.

Maintain data base of current funding opportunities.

Develop documents for start-up non profit organizations; i.e. bylaws, incorporation papers (Virginia), and strategic plans.

Web site content development.

Strategic Fund Development Plan.

Capital Fund Drive Development Plan.

Event Planning.

News Releases and publicity.

Organizational Readiness for Grants

Following is a list of essential requirements for an organization’s readiness to successfully obtain grants and a list of requirements sometimes asked for by funding sources. Community Initiatives can help organizations achieve each of these steps. We are experienced in helping start-up organizations obtain the 501 (c) (3) non profit status in Virginia and for established organizations, we help develop all the essential requirements (listed below) to become grant ready.

Essential Requirements

  1. An active board of directors who donate to the organization according to their means.
  2. By-laws: A document adopted by the board of directors which sets out the way the non-profit is organized. At a minimum the by-laws include the name, mission statement, the number and how members and officers are chosen, meetings, committees, a dissolution clause, an inurement clause and the procedures to make amendments. Refer to
  3. A letter from the IRS designating the organization as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit or is affiliated with a central organization which is tax exempt. Government agencies, and in some cases, churches, are not required to obtain 501 c 3 status. Please refer to
  4. A clearly stated mission statement.
  5. How the proposed project fits the organization’s mission.
  6. A complete description of the organization and all it projects and programs.
  7. Clearly stated strategies to achieve the mission including programs or projects with measurable goals and objectives.
  8. A plan to sustain the project in the future.
  9. A realistic budget.
  10. Regular, preferably monthly, expense and revenue reports.
  11. An identified dollar amount that the organization needs to raise through grants.
  12. Demographic data on the participants served.
  13. The number of participants served.

In addition to the essential requirements listed above, many funding sources ask for:

  1. An audit report by a qualified CPA.
  2. An evaluation plan.
  3. A proven track record.
  4. A long term strategic plan and a fund raising plan.
  5. Written procedures on how funds are handled.
  6. Information on other similar services in the community and how the organizations collaborate.
  7. A time-line and management plan to assure success of the project.
  8. Job descriptions and bio of principals.

Following are the basic steps involved in the grant writing process:

1. Through staff and board interviews and document reviews (including budgets, by-laws, past grant applications, project descriptions, news releases, etc.) we will acquire a sound knowledge and understanding of the organization and the projects for which grants will be sought.

2. Using the grant readiness checklist we will recommend changes or improvements needed to qualify for grants. We can assist in making these improvements.

3. Using our own data base and other sources of grant-making organizations, we will analyze sources of funding for specific projects and programs.

4. We will follow with precision the grant maker’s proposal guidelines, write, and edit all grant applications exhibiting strong expository writing skills.

5. A budget is the numerical story of the organization and project and must back-up the proposal narrative or case statement. We will review the overall organization’s budget as well as the project or program budget and make recommendations to better present it to grant-making organizations.

6. We stay in contact with grant-making organizations during their review of a grant application in order to supply additional supportive material.

7. If needed, we will manage the process of supplying progress reports if required by a grant-making organization.


Clients: A partial list of current and past clients.

Louisa Downtown Development Corporation, Inc –With volunteers successfully raised over $2 million dollars to adapt and re-use an historic building as a theater, art gallery and art education center.

Louisa County Historical Society –Assisted board of directors to raise $200,000 to adapt and re-use a residence as a history museum.

Ellis Acres Memorial Park –Grant writing to develop a 9 acre park and restore a former African American training school as a community center.

Trevilians Station Fire Department – Developed successful grant applications to purchase $280,000 emergency vehicle and personal protective gear. (Nationwide competition).

Town of Louisa – With partner, Land Planning and Design, developed over $1,500,000 in successful grant applications for downtown revitalization and pedestrian safety and a seven acre community park.

County of Louisa – As county grant writer, developed successful, $700,000 in grant application to fund construction of a wing of an Intergenerational Center to house a dental clinic, an adult day care center and a preschool. Developed successful grant application for three year Cops in Schools program for $97,000 (nationwide competition), other municipal and county government grants.

Numerous successful grant applications to government, private and corporate foundations for clients for health and dental care, youth development, arts and culture, storm water management, archeological studies, technology and construction.

Some of Community Initiatives' recent projects.


We work on an hourly basis with competitive fees. After reviewing your project needs, we will estimate the cost. We do not work on a contingency basis.


Shirley Stewart began her career in non-profit organizations by working with a Washington D.C. based consulting firm to determine the causes and conditions of poverty in the Appalachian region of West Virginia. Here she learned project planning and development and grant writing skills. She continued her career in grant writing, planning and program development with a rural comprehensive community health agency in Virginia.

After 12 years developing and operating a for-profit business, in 1998 she resumed her career as a grant writer for the County of Louisa. In 2002 she developed a consulting business, Community Initiatives, when among other projects, with volunteers, she helped develop a dental clinic. In 2004, she helped found the Louisa Downtown Development Corporation and the Louisa Arts Center.

In addition to an undergraduate education, she has obtained a certificate in non profit management and is working toward the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation. She attributes grant writing success to solid management skills by the organization, to the value and potential for success of the project for which funding is required and to the ability and skills of the grant writer.



Shirley Stewart, Principal
P.O. Box 23
Buckingham, VA 23921

434 907-4122 Cell
Email Shirley Stewart