Grants are a great funding resource—over $50 billion dollars are awarded by foundations to charitable organizations every year. They exist for all kinds of nonprofits and a huge variety of projects. They are are a major lifeline of many nonprofits, and can account for a significant chunk of your organization’s annual funds. As a grant writer, you certainly carry an important responsibility.
Grant writing is no easy task—it takes persistence, often with several drafts and tries. You will need to do your research and gather the correct facts and figures pertaining to your work in order to make an informed case for your application. You will also need to carefully determine which grants would be most appropriate for your organization to apply for, so that you can make that you meet all the qualifications and that the constraints of the grant work with your fundraising plan. Using this research to tell an impressionable story, you can create a convincing grant application that will get your nonprofit the resources it needs.
Ready to get started? Read on to see how you can maximize the effectiveness of your grant proposal:
1. Make sure you are a good fit
The funder’s interests should match well with your organization’s mission, and your proposal should follow the funders guidelines. In your proposal, explain how and why your organization fits those guidelines.
Get noticed among the giant stack of proposals with a powerful story about your organization’s impact. Storytelling adds an important humanizing connection to your proposal that can persuade potential funders of the importance of your work. You can create stories by focusing on those benefitting from your organization’s services as well as by concentrating on those involved with the support of your organization—from staff, to donors, to volunteers. A great way to generate storytelling content is by interviewing a variety of people that have benefited from your nonprofit’s work. These interviews can be useful not just for your grant writing, but can also be repurposed for your annual reports, marketing materials, and your nonprofit’s blog.
3. Answer the right questions
Your grant proposal should always answer these questions:
- What need does your nonprofit meet in the community?
- What makes your nonprofit distinct from the rest?
- How will your nonprofit make an impact? Be specific, with concrete actions detailed.
- How will you sustain your program once you have spent the proposed grant funds? Make sure your numbers add up, otherwise your credibility will be undermined.
4. Use simple, effective language to sell your program
Don’t use empty jargon in your proposal. Present the the good that your program will do efficiently, without flowery, overly complicated language. A good way to check if your proposal reads well is to have someone review your grant proposal that knows nothing about your organization. If they can understand and feel inspired by your narrative, then you are on the right track.
5. Establish a personal connection with potential funders
Who will be reading your proposal? If possible, get to know them by talking on the phone or face-to-face in advance of sending your proposal. The more personal you can be with potential funders, the more likely you are to receive the grant. After each conversation you have, send a thank you note.
Applying for grants is hard work and time consuming, but worth the payoff when done correctly. Grants are a critical aspect of a diversified fundraising plan that could make or break a given project. With effective research and a compelling story, you should be armed with the tools to create a convincing, solution-oriented proposal with straightforward language, and, at the very least, open to door to a budding relationship with a potential major funder. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries!
Are you an experienced grant writer with tips for nonprofits? Let us know your suggestions in the comments.