This post was originally published here (Forbes Nonprofit Council)
Most nonprofit organizations have two primary sources of funding: donations and grants. The latter is a much more difficult and competitive means to achieve your financial goals, but it pays off if you’re able to secure a one – a single grant from the government, corporations, foundations and trusts will typically yield a much higher return than any individual donor could give.
Remember, when you apply for a grant, you’re competing against numerous other nonprofits for the money, so it’s important to craft an effective proposal that helps you stand out from the crowd. We asked seven members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council to share their best advice for any organization looking to write better grants.
- Emphasize The Return On Investment – You must focus your grant writing on what it will deliver in terms of social good and the return on investment for the organization or sponsor that is providing the grant. It’s still a, “what will it do for them” type of focus without obviously involving a specific amount of money returned. Instead, it is something more intangible but that carries value for the person putting up the funds. (Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope)
- Be Your Best Example – Grant writing is not only about what you apply for. It is also about what other organizations ask for, which reflects your own organization’s value. (Kevin Xu, Human Heritage Project National Rongxiang Xu foundation)
- Give Specific, Short Answers To Questions – Make it short. Answer their questions. Get to the heart of it. Tell stories that are local, on-the-ground, and meaningful. Have statistics. Show the impact. Where you can, have a reference. (Pamela Hawley, UniversalGiving)
- Do Not Be Intimidated By The Grant Writing Process – Organizations must locate suitable grants, review the grant criteria and timelines, start writing and repeat this process. Should you not receive the grant award, request a meeting or conference call for clarity and direction. (Charles A. Archer, The THRIVE Network)
- Tell Stories Of Your Impact – In grant writing, it is important that your budget and written proposal work together to tell a story that shows the grant maker why you are the right fit to carry out their mission and fulfill their goals. Make sure you personalize how your programs help your beneficiaries and provide proper reporting records and references for the grant maker that verify you impact. (Bruce Maj Pelz, Maji Safi Group)
- 6. Use Bold, Clear Language – Your application is one of possibly dozens, even hundreds. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Use bold and clear language – you’re showing a review team that you value your work and that it is important and distinct. Tell the story of what you’re already doing in the world. People fund impact, not strategy, organizational design, or anything else. (Kristine Sloan, StartingBloc)
- Understand Your Funder’s Mission – Funders have their own mission and give grants that parallel their priorities. A great way to waste time and resources is to work on a grant that’s not in clear alignment with the funding organization’s mission. Twenty years ago, you were competing for a grant with 20 other agencies. Today it’s more like 2,000. Take the time before you waste a lot of time. (Steve Beck, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, Inc.)