Proposal Writing and Grantseeking

Grants: Passion Matters, But So Do Cold Facts and Calculated Action

Many nonprofits are born from the grave concern of someone who’s experienced a tragedy, suffered from a problem, or witnessed others’ suffering first-hand. These nonprofits radiate an intensity of purpose that inspires others to action and captures the interest of grantmakers who want to partner with authentic organizations working deeply within their communities.

Grants Specialist or Martyr-in-Residence?

Is your organization’s grants specialist constantly frazzled, working nights and weekends and juggling a schedule bulging with proposal deadlines, program development meetings, and report due dates? Do other staff members tip-toe around the specialist’s desk, forgiving occasional expletives, ignoring the candy wrappers and dirty coffee cups, and excusing missed calls and meetings. If so, that’s a big red flag.

Outcomes for Prevention Programs

Grants are social investments that are intended to produce positive change. Defining intended change is easier for some types of programs than others. If you’re working to improve the health of diabetics, the proposed outcome may be a specific degree of decrease in blood sugar levels of participants. But grantseekers often get confused when developing outcomes for programs that are intended to stop something from happening in the first place.

No Space for Letters of Commitment?

The grant application guidelines allow 15 pages of attachments, with ten consumed by required documents (IRS determination letter, board list, etc.). You’ve got 15 letters of commitment from diverse community groups pledging resources, volunteers, facilities, transportation, and other significant benefits. It’s a conundrum! The letters are powerful. Which do you use? Which do you leave out?

Win Grants with Proven Partnerships

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.

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