For many non-profit organizations, grant money is fundamental to their funding model and securing those grants can be an anxiety-inducing task. Not only are the stakes high, but also there is often stiff competition for the same money. For these reasons, it is important to prioritize a consistent process within your organization for finding, writing, and submitting strong grant proposals. To start, here are three basic elements of a solid grant writing process.
Find kindred grant-makers
Putting together a grant proposal takes a great deal of time and energy, both of which are important resources in any organization. It is essential to preserve these resources by finding relevant funders to court. When exploring potential grant funding options, be sure to thoroughly research the grant-making organizations to make sure their priorities and values are in alignment with those of your organization. A mismatch will likely waste valuable time and energy, either by generating a proposal that is unlikely to result in winning the grant, or by securing funding that is complicated with objectives or procedures that don’t fit with your organization. This research should be done constantly and contribute to a growing list of potential grant-making organizations that are compatible with your non-profit.
Create an efficient, compelling template
Now that your organization has researched and vetted potential funders, you will be able to tailor the content of each grant proposal to your audience. As this degree of content customization can be labor-intensive, it is helpful to develop a versatile grant proposal template to work within. For example, typical proposals contain five parts: a single-page executive summary, a statement of need, a detailed project description, a project budget, and a pitch for your organization. It is important that each of these sections is succinct, and also provides opportunities for statistics and client and community stories to be woven throughout. It may be helpful to keep a library of stories from the people you serve and community testimonials to draw from and incorporate when they are applicable to a particular proposal. Non-profit audit services are another valuable resource, as they can help you tease out some of your most persuasive statistics.
Be mindful of conventions
Even if you craft a thorough, compelling grant proposal, if your proposal fails to meet the grant-maker’s basic guidelines or is rife with grammatical errors, it is less likely to succeed. Be sure pull out the rules for submission in the Request for Proposals (RFP) and keep them in the foreground as you develop your proposal. This will also allow you reach out to the grant-making organization with any questions before you’ve drafted your proposal and get close to the deadline. Additional pitfalls in conventions that can be easily avoided with due diligence include excessive length, math errors, overuse of industry jargon, or missing signatures.
The grant-writing process takes time, but with an ongoing grant-writing system in place and partners such as California non-profit audit professionals to help with the effort, any non-profit can build a record of submitting winning grant proposals.
Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP specialize in California non-profit audits and tax preparation. Contact us today for help with your non-profit audit or tax prep needs.