Win Grants with Proven Partnerships

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One organization can’t do everything, and go-it-alone grant proposals that don’t make good use of community networks and resources are not convincing. The most effective proposals include authentic collaborations where participating organizations pursue their own missions while also contributing to a common goal. Unless the "usual-suspect" groups are involved as partners, funders will have questions. For example, if an early childhood agency wants to improve child health through better nutrition, it only makes sense to work with the food bank and the community health center.

The contributions of partners can be powerful multipliers for grant dollars. Pledges of partners are important! If the grant request is funded, partners must deliver on their promises.

To gauge partners’ sincerity, most funders require documentation—usually letters of commitment or memoranda of understanding (MOU) attached to the proposal. Vague promises don’t help. Documentation of partner commitments is integral to the proposal package, and letters or MOUs should:

• Note any involvement in planning the program, and express confidence that the effort will succeed.
• Express commitment to fulfilling the specific role and responsibilities discussed in the grant proposal.
• Detail contributions of resources, time, expertise, facilities, equipment, or any other benefit pledged.
• Express confidence in the applicant organization’s capacity to implement and manage the program.
• Sync precisely with the proposal narrative and accurately reflect the agreements made during the planning process.
• Be signed by people with authority to make commitments on behalf of their organizations.

Unless the funder forbids it, attach these documents even if they aren’t required. They make your proposal more concrete and prove you’ve rallied the support you need to get the job done.

— Barbara Floersch, Chief of Training & Curriculum


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