grant writing

Brief Outline for Grant Proposals

I think I got this from a grant writing class I took. I can only claim summarizing the information to fit into this blog post.

A grant proposal starts with identifying and documenting the need for a project. This includes finding statistics to demonstrate a need is compelling. Data strengthens a grant request by explaining the need exactly.

State the project’s objectives (at least three), the expected outcome for each objective, and when these outcomes will be achieved. Also, what is the evaluation process to know the outcome was achieved?

Put this all together and build a description of the project by identifying who will be helped, what activities will improve the lives of these people, and who will do the work to include partnerships. Foundations want to know there are other organizations helping with the project. The more the merrier.

The other most important section is the budget.

Expenses are divided between programs (good to mention) and operating or overhead (bad to mention). Under program expense, list everything except things considered capital expense such as equipment or personnel benefits (considered overhead). Salaries are all right most of the time if they are for the program. Avoid operating expenses (private donations can fund these). More importantly, list exactly what the foundation money will buy.

List other funding sources (match the list of partners). Most important, state how the project will be sustained and funded in the future.

Overall, a grant writer should note the capacity and resources a nonprofit has to successfully do what they said they would do. A foundation wants to feel good about giving out their money. Build confidence, trust, and strength that what a nonprofit does with this money will help people.

Relationships Again (because they are that important)

I wrote two blogs on relationships. This third blog is about building and keeping a relationship between a nonprofit and a foundation.

Relationships are the most important asset a nonprofit has, which is why this is my third blog on the subject. Whenever a foundation provides money, they show confidence in the nonprofit’s success and the nonprofit has a mission matching the foundation’s goals. A basic relationship is created representing an opportunity for the nonprofit.

The nonprofit should take the lead in further developing a connection with the foundation. There are plenty of advice on business relationships. However, I think it is best that the nonprofit keep things simple.

After receipt of the money, the nonprofit should encourage continued contact by:

  • Sending the foundation a quarterly newsletter that includes testimonies, a calendar, and information about the community the nonprofit serves. Do not include politics or gossip.
  • Invite the foundation to events. If the foundation is too far away to attend, provide updates on the event.
  • Try to visit the foundation at least once. Face-to-face meetings and maybe a lunch go a long way to cementing a business relationship. When meeting, never talk politics or gossip.
  • Call as a follow up to previous conversations. Do not make up things to call. When calling, keep things friendly, but not personal. Do not talk politics or gossip.
  • Whenever contacting the foundation, never ask for or discuss money. This is not about getting more, but about building a relationship so the money will continue to come.

It is sincerity that makes strong relationships. A nonprofit (or anyone) should develop a strong connection because it builds trust. With trust, there is confidence, opportunities arise, and things are easier.

A Nonprofit’s Volunteers part 2

I previously wrote a blog post about volunteers. This post is a different take on the subject.

A grant writer should learn about the volunteers who help a nonprofit. As an example, many companies provide grants where the employee volunteers. A grant writer only needs the volunteer’s permission to use their employee number.

On applications, a grant writer should note the number of volunteers and hours worked, even if not required. The more volunteers there are, the stronger the justification since it shows community support.

However, data on volunteers should be explained in relation to the size of the nonprofit. The number of volunteers and hours worked are only relative to the number of people helped by the nonprofit. A few volunteers for a small nonprofit are just as good as larger numbers in a bigger nonprofit.

Volunteers are crucial to the success of a nonprofit. Without them, labor costs soar to levels that are difficult to justify. To learn about volunteers, a grant writer should talk to the volunteer coordinator.

If this position is not filled or does not exist, there may be no need to get grants. Without management of the volunteers, the nonprofit’s primary labor source is unstable. Who will reliably help perform the mission? Foundations do not want to fund only labor.

Fortunately, most nonprofits have some management of their volunteers or they would not be around for long. Writing about volunteers in a grant application is an easy way to help justify the need for funding.

Writing Grants is Writing

I blog about creative writing and grant writing because I do both and I see a lot of similarities.

In creative writing, a writer needs to know how to write. This may seem obvious, yet many people take on grant writing without believing there are writing rules to follow.

Before drafting a grant request, the writer needs to achieve a level of understanding about writing. Such as how to use active voice, minimize the number of adverbs, and how to compile sentence structure.

Once there, a grant writer can improve their writing by re-reading what they wrote and being critical of their words. After this, the grant writer should get others to read what was written. A grant writer needs to accept critique and be open to criticism from themselves and others.

Of course, understanding writing and how to critique applies to all types of writing. This is important for a grant request because it involves funding for a nonprofit. A writer can use an intended way that is clear and simple or put something on paper just to get it submitted in time.

Ignoring the rules about writing leads to a grant request that might not make sense and a waste of time for everyone. If a writer puts in the effort and work to write a grant request, they should want to make sure other people can understand what was written.