Essential Preparation Tips — Grant Writing


 

If you have a background in sales you are well versed in qualifying prospects.

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Even though you might intend to fill out shorter grant proposals, the project you wish to fund should be clearly identified and developed.

 

Many people wing this process, but ultimately it leads to disappointments and pushback on future fundraising efforts.

 

"A goal properly set is halfway reached." Zig Ziglar

 

General questions to answer before grant writing:

  1. Is the proposed project in your area of expertise?

  2. Does it serve your mission?

  3. Do you have the experience to manage the project?

  4. What are your expectations? What is the desired result?

  5. What outputs or actions are required to achieve that result?

  6. How will you measure your progress not only in months but in other non-time-based quantifiable units of measurement?

 

If you're not sure how to answer these answers, my recommendation is to pause. Refocus on your mission statement and program and give recognition to current supporters. Solicit feedback from those supporting your mission.

 

Years ago, I worked for an organization with many aspirations. It took me an entire year to figure out precisely what the organization was doing. This was a teaching moment — a long one.

 

Being able to eloquently and clearly express your mission in one minute is excellent. Even better is being able to clearly express your mission in two sentences in a way that a stranger walks away and can repeat what you said

We all need to continually work on this as we evolve and as our organizations adapt.

 

You're good? Ok, now what?

 

Allocate your hours efficiently, so you do not duplicate your efforts. Move forward confidently with the intent to learn without the expectation of being funded.

 

A common assumption is that all money is good. This is especially not the case for smaller nonprofits. Seeking and obtaining funding that is not aligned with your core mission can be detrimental to your organization. You guys are running lean; your time and resources are precious.

 

What to expect

 

More often than not, your proposals will not get funded the first time. This is normal. Life would be boring if you got a yes to every ask! You would be a bratty nonprofit. Rejection is good! It is an opportunity! It is by no means personal or final.

 

It just wasn't the right fit at the right time. It will help you improve! If your proposal gets shot down, attempt to ask the funder what would have strengthened your proposal.

 

A grantor is not obligated to give you feedback, but approaching a grantor with respect might make you more aware of areas you can improve. You may also be able to disqualify this organization.

 

"Fall seven times, stand up eight" — Zen Proverb.

 

Any criticism is valuable! Life is all about continuous improvement. Grant writing is not an exception.

Any criticism is valuable! Life is all about continuous improvement. Grant writing is not an exception.

 

Who is your ideal Funder?

 

You want to find a good match. You want to be good for them and vice versa. You'll ideally want to develop long-lasting solid relationships. You want to find grantors who are aligned with your mission, organization, and specific project.

 

When individuals donate to your cause, they have expectations of how you will spend their money. Similarly, foundations have expectations on how you will spend their money.

 

Thirdly, donors to charitable foundations have expectations (donor intent) on how foundations will spend their money.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

"Above all to thine own self be true." -William Shakespeare

 

Know what you want. Make sure everyone is on board. Make sure this project is in your lane and within the scope of your mission.

 

Take this as seriously as if you are a corporate newbie just tapped to manage a big project. Return regularly to your area of consolidated information. Update information including team players, leadership, strategic plans, tax forms, key contacts, audits, financial statements, etc.

 

If you need more info read my article, "Do this one thing before looking for grants!".

This will help build a firm foundation with quality consolidated information. The language used in communications and written asks will be well thought out and comfortable. You will have core language and updated information easily tailored for future proposals.

 

Team members will be clear, confident, and more precise and concise in oral and written form.

 

Tips

As referenced in more detail in an earlier article, it is critical for success to have a consolidated spot for clear, concise information accessible to all project team members. Have backups.

 

Ensure there are a few key holders to the vault and not one person with administrative rights to drives, folders, databases, and application sites. I have seen this go the wrong way too many times. Regularly back up and name documents in a clear way with dates included in file names.

 

Caveats

If you aren't ready yet, that's ok! Consider looking at individual donors who already believe in your work and organization. If you do need assistance, this is what I do. Feel free to reach out. Your feedback is encouraged.

 

Write a little about your goals and receive a free 30-minute consultation by phone or Skype.

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