Going for Gold in Grantwriting

Grantwriting is one of many ways to raise funds for your organization.  To apply for grants with foundations, your organization must have charitable status with the federal government.  Accessing foundation funding has become increasingly difficult – the number of charities has grown exponentially over the last decade.  And with today’s economic climate, foundations will not have as many funds to disburse to charities.  So how do you successfully apply for funding with foundations?

Do your research: There are several databases on the market that you can use to determine which foundations suit your project and organizational aims.  Using these databases are just the beginning to doing your research.  Don’t be afraid to call the contact person in the database.  Your time is valuable and frankly, so is your funder’s.  Make sure that you are a good match for each other.

Develop a strong case statement: Why is your project or program needed in the community?  What urgent need are you filling?  Find statistics, case studies and academic studies that verify that there is a need for your service.

Ensure that your proposal is well written: You must be able to communicate your case statement, your organizational history, your project aims and outcomes, succinctly and professionally.  Do not stuff your proposal with unnecessary information.  Use the tips I have given in a previous post about turbo-charging your writing.  Some foundations that have tossed aside proposals with grammatical and spelling errors.

Respect a foundation’s funding process: This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is crucial to respect the foundation’s funding process.  This means submitting all the documents that they require for you to be considered for a grant; making sure that your documents fit the foundation’s criteria.  If the foundation wants a 2-page mini grant proposal, make sure that you submit a 2-page grant proposal.  And be sure to fit into the funding cycle.  Submitting late means that your project will not be considered for that granting cycle.

Build relationship: Many times I tell my clients that foundations must feel like ATM’s.  Nonprofit organizations come to foundations looking for grant money and once they have either been turned down or have been granted project funding, they walk away.  They forget that foundations are made up of philanthropically-minded folks who take very seriously, the task that they have been given – the task of allocating funds to bring positive change to a community.  Neglecting ongoing communication after a grant has been approved or denied means that you will scuttle an opportunity for a long-term relationship.  Foundations are like other donors.  They want to be acknowledged (and they should be) for their support and want to know that their investment has made a difference.

Don’t give up if your grant proposal is turned down.  Speak to someone at the foundation… seek to understand why your proposal was denied funding.  Build the relationship with your foundations of choice and work towards making your project become a reality.

What do you think are some other important factors that will help your organization to succeed in grantwriting?  Share a comment below…

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