Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on grants and other funding sources to fulfill their missions and provide services. Many organizations and government agencies offer grants for a variety of purposes. These grants are often extremely competitive, attracting a large number of worthy causes to one monetary award. For this reason, it is important to make sure your grant proposal is well-written and stands apart from the other proposals submitted. Whether this is your first grant proposal or you have written others, there are certain steps and tips that should be followed to increase your chances of obtaining the grant money you require.
Choose the Right Funders
The most important thing you need to do first is to make sure you are choosing a funder that is likely to support your cause, as well as the project for which you are seeking funding. Review the funding priorities of each prospective grant provider and compare this to your mission to ensure you choose the right fit. In many cases, finding a smaller local grant provider External link can increase your chances of success, though the funding may be less as well. Always apply to more than one grant for added assurance.
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Check Application Materials
Most grants will have a specific application process you must follow. Review the written application, as well as any supporting materials, before writing your grant proposal. This information will detail exactly what the organization is looking for as it evaluates the grant proposals it receives. Failure to follow any of the instructions provided will result in an immediate rejection of your proposal. This may seem like a simple step, but it is one that is easily overlooked. As you go through the application materials, highlight the important aspects and make a list of documents you need to include.
Evaluate Your Project
Nonprofits typically seek grant funding as a source of monetary support for specific projects. Evaluating your project is an important step you should take before you even begin the writing process. Consider what your project hopes to achieve and how it will benefit society. Your goal is to make your project look more appealing than any of the other projects in the stack of proposals grant providers receive. Calculate the numbers and determine exactly how much money you require to complete the project and use those numbers to create a clear, accurate budget. This prep work will make the grant writing process easier.
Another critical step before you begin working on your grant proposal is to do your research. This includes researching the grant provider, the project you wish to complete, the people whom your project will help, and other critical aspects of your project. Grant funders are looking for a well-researched proposal that shows the recipient has worked hard to obtain the funding they require to complete their project and takes steps to help society.
Writing the Proposal
Once all the prep work is complete, you can begin writing the individual pieces of the proposal. The application materials should discuss many of the sections you need to address in your proposal, as well as the specific format in which the information should be presented. Make sure you follow this format carefully to ensure your success. Improper formatting will earn an immediate rejection. Grant proposal writing requires the creation of many documents. Most grant proposals require the following:
- Cover Letter or Letter of Inquiry – This letter should be addressed to an individual and will introduce your organization, provide your mission, and clearly and concisely state your request. The content should only be three or four paragraphs long and fit on one page.
- Executive Summary – Grab your reader’s attention and explain what is contained within your proposal. This document should be extremely detailed without being too long. You will again introduce your organization and its mission statement, as well as highlight the key points of your proposal, the cost and funding amount requested, the time frame for your project, and your expected results.
- Statement of Need – This statement should indicate the need your project addresses and how your project fulfills this need. This part of the grant proposal should grab the attention of the reader and provide background information, historical data, and anecdotes that highlight why you want to address this problem. You should also talk about the reasoning for your time frame, as well as address why funding is needed immediately. Use reputable resources for this section.
- Goals and Objectives – Use powerful language designed to persuade your readers to see the importance of your project. This section should show readers what your nonprofit organization plans to achieve through the project, creating a list of broad goals and narrow objectives within those goals. Objectives must be concrete and measurable to be effective. Make sure this section matches your Statement of Need.
- Methodology – This section is designed to give a step-by-step process of how your project will work and how you will meet your goals and objectives. To ensure you include all the necessary details, write as if the person you are addressing knows nothing about your nonprofit organization or your project. After reviewing this section, readers should know exactly what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. This section should also reference your Statement of Need and your Budget, as well as list necessary supplies, equipment, resources, and staffing needs.
- Evaluation – This is one of the most important sections to do well because it is often the cause of rejection. Grant providers want to know how you will determine the success of your project. If you will use an external evaluator, indicate this fact here. This section will address how you will measure the results quantitatively and qualitatively. These measurements should be objective. The Evaluation should also indicate how you will use these results.
- Project Sustainability – Many grant providers want to know what will happen to the project after the grant money is exhausted. This section should inform the reader about where you see this project in the future, particularly in terms of funding and staffing needs.
- Organizational Information – This section will provide the reader with important information about your nonprofit organization. This includes the full legal name and legal status of your organization, how you are different from other organizations, who is on your board and staff, where you are located, your financial statistics, history, and more. It should be a clear overview of your organization.
- Budget – Crunching the numbers for your project is critical to obtaining the funding you require. Grant providers want a thorough, accurate account of how much money your project will spend, including expenses such as staffing, project tasks and equipment, and overhead costs. This section should be extremely detailed and 100 percent accurate. Any mistake in your figures can cost you the grant.
If no order is indicated, your documents should be organized in the order above. Once you have finished writing each section, review them and ask someone else to do the same to eliminate all grammatical and spelling errors. You can then organize the documents into the appropriate order and create an attractive grant proposal package to deliver to the grant provider for review.