Non profits across the country send out grant proposals everyday seeking funding for their program services. They compete with thousands of other organizations for the scarce grant dollars that are available. Development offices are always looking for tools to make their proposals stand far and above their competition.
Sadly, there are no special tricks. There are no magic attachments that you can submit with your proposal that will magically reward your organization with those coveted grant dollars.
The sad reality is that a perfectly written application can go unfunded. There are, however, several things you can do that will help your grant proposal and, ultimately, your organization noticed. Noticed and funded.
Follow the rules. Most of the time the funding source tells you exactly what they want. Read the application instructions. If they say double spaced, single sided with one inch margins and no more than 10 pages; do not submit a 25 single spaced two sided document thinking they will like what you have to say so much that they will overlook your transgression. When it comes to grants you have only one opportunity to make a good first impression, it is imperative that you proofread and edit using a high quality grammar checker and the help of another set of eyes.
No matter how perfect your program is: if the funder doesn’t read your application it wont be funded.
Once again, read the instructions. The funder will tell you what they want to know. If you are applying for state or federal funding, you will refer to the Request For Proposals (RFP). The RFP will tell you everything they want to know. The RFP will tell you what format they want it in. Use the RFP as a checklist to provide them with exactly what want.
The person who reads your budget and budget justification will not have access to the program narrative that was attached. Therefore, you, as the proposal writer, need to make sure that each section tells your story. Looking at a page of numbers and no context will not reveal very much about your organization. Let each section be part of a whole piece. Use the budget narrative to fully explain what the funds will be used for thereby giving the reader a full idea of what he or she did not see in the program narrative.
The non profit should be operating in a climate of measurement. It is not enough just to do something; you have to be able to prove you do something. More importantly, you have to prove what it means. Organizations that concentrate on performance objectives and outcome measurements will find the responses to funders questions easier to answer.
Your application responses should answer the questions the funder asks. You want to use this opportunity to share your story. You want your application to strike a chord in the reader. People give to people. It is that simple.
Do not add flourishes where none are asked for. Does your organization have a video presentation that you use at local civic events? Do not send it with your application unless it is specifically requested. Many smaller foundations have very few staff and do not have the time to review the material. Don’t count on that video to tell your story because, sadly, it won’t be seen.
Don’t use fancy bindings for your applications. 99% of the time the funder will tell you exactly how they are to be bound because 99% of the time the applications are separated and various people read various parts.
It takes practice. Not every application will be funded. And not every funder will tell you why it was not funded. When you can, ask for the critique and use it. Compare what they were looking for with what you provided and that will also give you a good road map to use with other applications. There are grant dollars out there and your job as the proposal writer will be to make sure that your application is the best it can be.
If you are tasked with fundraising and grant creation explore the features provided by Grammarly and bookmark English Grammar Rules.