Grants are an excellent source of funding for your nonprofit. You can find the funding to further your mission and support your next big initiative with the right application. There are so many grants out there supporting every type of project and nonprofit imaginable!
Successful grant writing is not just about meeting the expectations of the applicant, but it's an incredible skill. Grant writers have an important job of creating an application that inspires the reader and convinces them that your organization can make a valuble impact with their help.
So if you are looking to start applying for funding, here are a few tips on how to write a winning nonprofit grant proposal.
Tips For Writing Stellar Grant Proposals
1) Know Where to Look for Grants
Before you can start writing your application, you need to know where to look!
The first place to start your search is within your network. Look at some big businesses or community centres and see if they have grant programs you can take advantage of. Some big companies may even have a foundation in place dedicated to assisting organizations like yours. Reach out to ask about the application process and research online what their funding pillars are. Get to know what they're interested in.
2) Be Prepared and Don't Be Afraid to Recycle Content
You don't want to approach the grant writing process without a project or idea in mind - even if you are looking for operational or unrestricted funding. If you are scrambling to meet the needs of the funding opportunity and not the needs of the people you are serving, it will show in your application.
Funding cycles are often announced annually so this gives you time to prepare and spend time creating the most impactful application possible. Have a few projects outlined and, if applicable, reuse content from other applications.
We don't recommend you copy and paste, but take the main ideas and update them for each application.
3) Tell a Story
It's easier to get noticed in your application if you connect with a great story to the reader.
Storytelling has the incredible ability to connect with others and adds a crucial humanizing connection to your proposal that can persuade potential funders of the importance of your work. You can consider telling the story of someone who benefited from your services or highlights the work of a volunteer or staff member, but make sure it is also supported by strong data and metrics that can demonstrate your impact.
4) Partner with other nonprofits
Other nonprofits are not competition. Working together with organizations is the best way to strengthen your organization and increase your impact.
We're all in this together, working to create a better community and world. Work to adopt an abundance mindset (there's plenty of dollars available for us all) versus a scarcity mindset (there's not enough money to go around).
Partnering with other nonprofits on a specific project shows funders that you are willing to collaborate and think critically about the ways you can increase your impact. It is a lot harder to deny funding to an incredible project that will support multiple organizations and their communities.
5) Pay Close Attention To Instructions
Most grants will have a list of instructions, requirements and directions you need to follow, and it's essential to take the time to review them and ensure you are meeting all of the requirements.
Often called Application Guidelines, Grant Instructions, Requests for Proposals or Funding Opportunity Announcements, it's essential to be aware and follow these guidelines. Even ensuring your application is organized correctly can be a huge help to funders. Answer questions in the order they are listed and use the funder's headings and terminology in your responses.
Be sure that budgets, reports and timelines also adhere to the guidelines and can be uploaded in the right format through the grant’s online portal.
If you are consistent and thorough with your application, you demonstrate to the funder that you will be on top of any of the follow-up items they require.
6) Showcase Your Strengths, Not Your Needs
Don't spend the entire application talking about how badly you need the money. Instead, focus on proving to them how far you can go with the funding they give you.
Just as you would with your donors, you want to demonstrate the incredible impact you are making within your community and how others will make a difference by supporting you. Funders don't want to be handed a laundry list of needs, they want solutions. Demonstrate how you create change and the ways you are making a difference in people's lives.
7) Grant Writing is a Skill that Has to be Developed
The best way to get better at grant writing is to learn, practice and invest in your writing. Reading blogs like this is a great place to start, but consider reading successful applications if you are looking to improve your writing. Look at what other nonprofits are doing and see how you can learn from them.
You can always outsource your grant writing, but consider investing in a grant writing course for your staff if you want to keep it in-house. Especially if you rely heavily on funding grants, it can be an excellent investment that pays itself off in the long run.
Developing grant writing skills takes incredible time and practice. When thinking about your grant application, it's essential to think about the difference your nonprofit is making in your community and come from a place of abundance.
The key to writing an effective grant application is proving that you can confidently change the world with the money from your application. We also recommend you listen to our podcast interview with Kate West on how to make your grant applications stand out!
If you want to better organize your application, look no further than your database! You can add foundations into the system and keep track of their grants and all of the applications you have made in the past. You can make note of the dollar amount, attachments and your main point of contact for each application. To learn more on how to use your CRM to organize grant applications, reach out to us!
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