“We have been so impressed by the way our local nonprofits have evolved over the years as organizations and as grant seekers. Proposals are succinct and specific, and our potential candidates are prepared with materials and answers to all of our questions. ” – Phyllis McConn, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation Grants Manager.
That is what you want your grant reviewers to say. This is how you get there.
Learn from the past. Have you ever applied for a grant? Were you turned down? Do you know why? Learn from any constructive feedback, even if you have to ask for it.
Find the right funder. No matter how well-written your proposal or impactful your plan, if your mission doesn’t create the impact the grantmaker is committed to, you won’t be funded. Don’t waste time applying for grants for which you don’t qualify.
Do your research. Has this grantmaker funded similar projects in the past? Will their average grant size be enough to cover your needs? According to their guidelines and past grant recipients, are you eligible?
Craft your proposal for the funder. There is no such thing as a generic proposal. While you can start with boiler plate language, make sure you custom tailor your language based on the goals and objectives of the funder. You can find this on their website, annual report and request for proposals.
Be specific. Quantify where possible and provide data and research that substantiates your proposed impact.
Be realistic. Be realistic with goals and outcomes, and provide a clear plan for assessment and evaluation.
Be confident. Share your past successes implementing similar projects or share the research that shows your strategy has worked elsewhere. Explain why you’re the one to tackle the issue, that you aren’t duplicating services and name your collaborative partners.
Be professional. Review the proposal multiple times and ask colleagues to review your draft. Have a fundraising calendar to manage tasks and deadlines.
Be persuasive. Don’t assume the significance of a project is obvious, or confuse its importance with its purpose. Compel the funder to put their time and resources into your project.
Be transparent. Most funders are glad to hear you are seeking funding elsewhere so they aren’t the sole donor, especially for a large project. Lay out all expected funding, including in-kind and volunteer.
Be the reader. Reviewers change. Provide all necessary information even if you’ve applied before.
Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation released this article as a two part series on the Give Back Tahoe page of Sierra Sun. It first appeared on 11/11/2015. Read the Part I:Finding the Right Funder.