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20 Expert Methods To Make Your Grant Proposal Stand Out

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Grants are a critical source of funding for nonprofits, but drafting a proposal to secure a grant is challenging and highly competitive. To increase chances of success, a proposal must be clear, compelling and persuasive.

Below, 20 Forbes Nonprofit Council members explain how to elevate your proposal process and get one step closer to securing that grant for your organization. Follow their recommended approaches to take your applications to the next level.

 

1. Tell Success Stories

Always tell as many success stories as possible, even if it can only be told on the cover or in the introduction. Successes demonstrate the organization’s impact on a human level; this is where the mission can resonate the most. Decision makers naturally require explicit data-driven outcomes to better understand the financial ask, but what’s almost as important is ensuring they feel moved and inspired. – Lisa Rusyniak, Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc.

 

2. Talk About Consequences Without The Grant

Talk about the counterfactual point of what would happen in the absence of this grant. What would stay the same, get worse or change? Then, connect that answer back to how the grant will make a difference in the lives of those you are hoping to support in a way that would not otherwise be possible. – Caroline Whistler, Third Sector Capital Partners

 

3. Explicitly Write To The Requirements

Whether it’s a grant or other kind of solicitation, my one basic suggestion is to write explicitly to the requirement. Show the grant offeror that you understand the requirement, how you will meet the requirement with outcomes and how your approach has high value added. Too often, proposal/grant writers focus on the message they want to send as opposed to the requirements of the solicitation. – Pat Tamburrino, NobleReach Foundation

 

4. Establish A Relationship Prior To Submission

While not always possible, the most surefire way to ensure your grant proposal is successful is for its submission to be the culmination of a relationship already developed and a program already discussed rather than the launch of either. Through this approach, persuasion happens as part of conversations where you align and agree, thus taking the pressure off character limits and written words. – Patricia McIlreavy, Center for Disaster Philanthropy

 

5. Present Concrete Evidence

A proposal for funding should cite data and research to clearly demonstrate the need and the impact the nonprofit can have in closing the opportunity gap. Presenting concrete evidence enhances credibility and persuades donors of the project’s significance and potential outcomes. In addition, keeping language succinct and clear is also advisable. – Randy Wong, Hawaii Youth Symphony

 

6. Demonstrate Your Credibility And Track Record

Grant-making institutions look for proposals that demonstrate institutional competency and experience in implementing impactful, mission-aligned programs. Demonstrate your organization’s credibility, expertise and track record in delivering similar projects. Highlight successful outcomes you’ve achieved to establish confidence in your ability to effectively utilize funds and deliver results. – Michael Horowitz, The Community Solution Education System

 

7. Communicate Long-Term Outcomes

I believe that the best strategy for grants is to tie them to long-term outcomes. Many corporations and foundations desire immediate impact or results, but real change takes time. Grantees should invest in organizations and ideas with a plan for growth and evolution over a period of years. This approach allows nonprofits to communicate funding needs for infrastructure and sustaining operations. – Terry Bowman, ReadWorks

 

8. Showcase Your Value Proposition

Proposed projects should accomplish the donor’s objectives and leave room for collaboration. For a competitive edge, mirror language from the original notice of funding opportunity, demonstrate an understanding of the donor’s priorities and speak directly to measurable, sustainable outcomes. Define what sets you apart and outline a solid value proposition for the donor’s investment. – Sharon Payt, International Justice Mission

 

9. Build An Outline

We always build an outline for a grant proposal. Outlining forces you to clearly explain your project’s purpose, goals and methods. Most of all, an outline creates a roadmap for the grant proposal, ensuring that information is presented logically and flows smoothly, allowing multiple team members to contribute and provide feedback, ultimately strengthening the proposal. – Erin Mote, InnovateEDU

 

10. Share Third-Party Verified Research

Depending on your area of focus, there may be opportunities to seek state and federal funding. These funders typically look for organizations with solid track records and a thoughtful plan for sustainability beyond the initial funding. Having research and strong data that is verified by a third party is helpful, as is having strong relationships with community leaders and elected officials. – Tom Ulbrich, Goodwill Industries of Western New York, Inc.

 

11. Show The Difference You Are Making

Focus on the expected results. All nonprofits are seeking to do good work and have appealing missions. More and more funders today are focused on the impact their dollars will have on the community, not just the organization. That means moving beyond the process and focusing on clear interim and summative metrics. Like nonprofits, funders want to know they are making a difference. – Patrick Riccards, Driving Force Institute

 

12. Mirror The Funder’s Language

Mirror the language of the funder. Every funder has particular focus areas or interests. Read their website, social media and funding announcements to pull out the main themes and even some phrases they use often. Use these back in the grant to ensure you pitch your work in a way that resonates and can be a significant first step in connecting with their mission and focus. – Matthew Gayer, Spur Local

 

13. Clearly Answer What Is Being Asked

It may sound simple, but speaking directly and concisely to the question the application is asking. Make sure that you are addressing the interests of the funders and connect how you are going to solve a problem or meet a need. – Jamee Rodgers, Urban Neighborhood Initiative

 

14. Align Your Project With Funder’s Goals

Craft a compelling grant proposal by aligning your project with the funder’s goals. Clearly outline your organization’s mission and track record of success while detailing the project’s impact and outcomes to demonstrate how it will effectively utilize the funding. – James Dismond, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry

 

15. Seek Alignment With The Funder’s Strategic Focus

It’s critical to align your mission and vision with the strategic focus of the grant funder. Too often, nonprofits apply for grants with guidelines that are clearly not consistent with the organization’s mission or the project’s deliverables. Your argument strengthens when you can bring together the goals and values of both the nonprofit and the funder to deliver a win-win outcome. – Victoria Burkhart, The More Than Giving Company

 

16. Anticipate Follow-Up Questions

Anticipate the follow-up questions and answer those in the proposal. Put yourself in the place of the reviewer and answer the questions that may not specifically be on the application. For example, if they ask how many people will receive services, go a step further and give an example of a recipient and the impact on their life. – Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.

 

17. Show How The Grant Will Support Your Goal

Grants should support, not supplant, more than 30% of your annual revenue. Be strategic with your mission’s immediate impact, but also clearly outline how your mission makes a future impact on those you serve and the community as a whole. This shows a longitudinal pathway grant funders like because it shows you are planning to sustain with or without their individual grant. – Erin Davison, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana

 

18. Clarify Effects And Outcomes

Clarifying the project’s effects and outcomes helps you win. Emphasize measurable results and illustrate how grant funds will directly contribute to project goals to demonstrate project value and effectiveness. This helps grant evaluators comprehend your proposal and shows the possible benefits of their investment. Add data-driven facts and match your proposal with the funder’s vision. – Jason Fields, Madison Region Economic Partnership

 

19. Be Sincere In Your Passion For The Project

It can be easy to find a grant desirable merely for the price tag. However, the best-written, most persuasive grants come from a true passion for the objective. Sincerity and authenticity are palpable when the writer is in alignment with the goals of the proposal. Be discerning, and do not pursue grant funding if you are not in love with the project for the long haul of deliverables. – Tara Chalakani, Preferred Behavioral Health Group

 

20. Match The Grantor’s Own Narrative Style

Whether it’s a grant, major gift or corporate proposal, the key to persuasion is hidden in plain sight. Look at the stories the grant providers tell in their own annual reports, on their social media and on their websites. What questions do they ask in their application? Their language choices and narrative style all tell you exactly what will be most persuasive to them. – Cherian Koshy, Kindsight

 

Source:  Forbes

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