Your nonprofit software can help you organize information on donor prospects, keep track of giving histories and map out fundraising strategies. It can also help you get all your ducks in a row before writing appeals to a foundation for grant money.
If you’re new to grant-writing, the road ahead of you might seem daunting. It’s more likely than not you’ll be denied on your first attempt, according to Nonprofit Hub. There will be some trial and error not only in writing your grant proposal, but in doing foundation research and figuring out which grants to apply for. Approach your grant-writing journey with the knowledge that you’re going to encounter a learning curve. With some patience and practice, you’ll get there. Here are some things that can help you get off to a smooth start:
Read before you write
Before penning your grant proposal, you should know the application instructions inside and out, noted Step by Step Fundraising. Carefully read through every word, and then do so again. Clearly answering every single question will lend strength to your appeal letter, and allow application reviewers to easily find what they’re looking for.
It’s also a good idea to take some time to learn about the history of the foundation, why the grant was created and the criteria upon which funding will be given. If your nonprofit mission doesn’t completely align with the foundation’s intentions behind the grant, then it’s best to reserve your energy for a different application. Donation management software can manage your research notes, so you can decide which foundations best fit your cause.
Make it easy on your audience
Your writing should be clear, concise and to the point. Remember that readers will disregard any content that doesn’t follow directions. For example, application reviewers won’t read anything beyond the required page limit. If you’ve included valuable information beyond the specified length, no one will see it. Find a way to say everything you need within the allotted space.
Another way to create easy reading: Adopt a structure parallel to the application instructions. Answer each question in order, so your reviewer doesn’t need to flip through pages multiple times. Create lists instead of paragraphs, when you can. They’re easy to read and will help you stick to word count.
When you apply for a grant, provide some background about your nonprofit. It’s a mistake to assume your application reviewer already knows your organization, The NonProfit Times said. In your case statement, give some concrete evidence that you can carry out your goals if you’re offered funding.
“Learn about the history of the foundation.”
When choosing grant recipients, foundations are making an investment. Create trust by clearly outlining how the funds will be used, said Fundchat. Define your perception of success, and state concretely how you plan to measure the outcome of the prospective grant money.
It’s important to double-check your facts, reminded The NonProfit Times. Make sure you’ve accurately represented statistics, and that they’re up-to-date. Don’t forget to correct any last-minute budget changes. Even a simple oversight poses the risk of damaging your credibility.
This is why the importance of proofreading cannot be overstated. It’s a good idea to have a few pairs of eyes on your proposal before submitting the final draft. Beyond checking for spelling and grammatical errors, make certain that you’re following the specified format. Place information in the proper sections and be consistent with quantities and staff titles. Clarity and a uniform style are of utmost importance to establishing credibility.
Formatting requires a lot of time and attention to detail, said Fundraising IP. Don’t leave your grant-writing to the last minute, or you could get bogged down by unanticipated edits.
Keep a positive focus
At its heart, your grant proposal is about engaging in the greater good. Your tone should reflect that. Keep an eye toward how this money will help you enact your charitable mission. If any uncertainty comes through, your application reviewer is likely to move on.
This is where storytelling can be a useful tool. Real-life narratives show your organization’s good work, without calling for further explanation. It’s also a great antidote to writer’s block. Rather than starting from scratch, the stories are already there. Beneficiaries, volunteers, board members and staff all have heartening tales to tell about your organization’s journey toward social change. These narratives evoke emotion and help you connect with your reader, said Nonprofit Hub. Foundations want to understand the passion that drives your purpose.
Interviews and storytelling can be great tools to help you connect with your reader, said Nonprofit Hub. Foundations not only want to understand your purpose, they want to see the passion behind it.
formatting requires a lot of time and attention to detail, said Fundraising IP. Don’t leave your grant-writing to the last minute, or you could get stuck composing abstracts…a lot of grant writers suggest ramping up by starting with mini grants.