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What grantmakers want

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QUESTION:

What are three ways nonprofits can strengthen their grant proposals?

ANSWER:

* Write for needs, not money.

So many nonprofits are chasing money these days.

They’re looking for money to supplement what they’re lacking from other fundraising activities, which is the wrong position to take when you’re putting together a grant proposal.

Grant makers want proposals for programs or for specific projects.

The biggest thing a nonprofit can do to strengthen their grant proposal is to really look at grants for programs or projects.

Grants for general operating support just do not exist any longer.

Foundations have begun to ask that nonprofits be accountable for everything with regard to their programs and projects.

* Do your homework.

It is important that nonprofits research the potential grantmaker before submitting their proposal.

They need to build a relationship with the grantmaker and make sure this is a right fit.

This means making a phone call, acquiring guidelines and talking to a program officer.

Before you call them, research their 990-PFs, look at press releases and do a Google search to find what other organizations they are giving to.

Another way organizations can use research is to look outside their sphere of influence.

They should see where other nonprofits are doing similar types of work and see what kind of results they are having.

They can also look at other nonprofits in their community to make sure they are not duplicating services and to recognize all opportunities to collaborate.

Grant makers are looking for collaboration so nonprofits can actually share the wealth.

* Develop attainable outcomes.

Over the last ten years, attainable outcomes have become very important for grant makers.

Grant makers want to know the results the program is striving for and how the nonprofit will measure those results.

Doing a project model before beginning to write helps set attainable outcomes, with a timeline, and makes it possible to describe those things clearly in the actual proposal.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation website has very useful, free downloadable booklets on project models and evaluation.

— Compiled by Caroline Monday


Diane Gedeon-Martin is founder and president of The Write Source, a Glastonbury, Conn., consulting firm focusing on grant proposal writing.

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