ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/29/12)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) received a record 331 Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) grant requests this year, and the agency's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI) has advised credit unions on how they can better tailor their grant requests to help their chances of receiving funds in the future.
While the 311 applicants requested more than $5 million, combined, in funds, the agency was able to award only $1.4 million in technical assistance grants to just over 100 small credit unions.
This year's CDRLF grant disbursements will be used by credit unions to improve their service, train their staff, expand their community outreach efforts, provide ATMs in underserved areas, increase some marketing efforts at in-school branches and increase awareness of the payday loan alternatives offered at their credit union. Financial literacy and education at in-school credit union branches, and internships and staff training efforts, also will be funded by the grant money.
The NCUA's OSCUI in the August edition of its FOCUS e-newsletter said that "preparing a grant application is similar to preparing a job application." It noted that approaching a grant application in a similar manner "will increase a credit union's chances of receiving funding."
Credit unions, the agency said, should try to demonstrate why they are ideal grant recipients. They can do so by showing how their grant request and qualifications align with the requirements in the guidelines of the grant initiative, the NCUA recommended.
As an example, the NCUA said an application for a new product/service development initiative grant should include:
- A clear project description outlining the new product or service the credit union will offer; and
- A statement of impact explaining how the product or service will enable the credit union to better serve the community.
OSCUI also warned that a credit union's grant request could be harmed by:
- Omission of any required documentation listed in the funding guidelines, including bids, quotes, partner letters, and other supporting documents;
- Incomplete details about the project/proposed use of grant funds;
- A use that is expected to have minimal impact on the credit union's existing members, potential members, or community;
- A request that does not show progression from a similar award funded previously;
- Bids or quotes that are inconsistent with the project description;
- Funding requests for prohibited expenses such as staff salaries and travel;
- Funding requests solely for general-use computer hardware and equipment upgrades; and
- Applying for funding for an item or service that has already been purchased or contracted.
For this month's OSCUI FOCUS e-newsletter, use the resource link.