You have a nonprofit, but now what? How do I get funding to start my programming? You say to yourself “I will write grants”. Many people think oh my program is so wonderful I’ll just get a grant and do it. Not so fast. Obtaining a grant is not the easiest thing to do.
At BFCR we hear this type of thing from clients all the time. Not only is everyone looking for grant funding, but they think they have the best cause. I bet you’re wondering, so how do I write a proposal to obtain grant funding? It is a lot of research, detail oriented work, relationship building, and many more aspects to this process. Beanstalk FCR Advisor, Courtney Taylor, MBA provides 8 essential keys for a great grant proposal.
Below are 8 essential keys to think about when preparing a grant proposal:
1. Do Your Homework. Research! Research! Research! This is the most important thing to do before you even begin your grant proposal. It’s important for you know who your audience is, does your nonprofit even align with the funder’s focus? When is the deadline to submit the proposal? This is one of the most important elements to have done before you even begin constructing a basic proposal. If you do not do this, you aren’t ready.
2. Statement of Need/ Problem Statement. This is where you identify what is the problem you are trying to solve at your non profit organization. Whether its homelessness, mental health issues, or hunger, you must pose the problem and tell the story throughout the narrative of the proposal. Let the funder know why you need the grant.
3. Identify What Makes the Organization Stand Out. Philanthropy is huge this day in age. For example, Houston is the most philanthropic city in the United States, but it is also one of the cities with the most nonprofit agencies. Over 20,000 to be exact, which means there a lot of organizations competing for the same dollars. This is the time where you identify what makes your organization unique that is transforming lives in a completely different way than the next one up the street. This always is a good time to conduct a SWOT analysis so you can identify those strengths the organization may have.
4. Impact. This is key when asking for support to fund your programs. How many people have you serviced or project to service through your programming. Then you take it a step further by highlighting demographics and socio economic status of the clients you are serving. You must provide hard data and facts to support your need. This information will not only help with constructing a proposal but will help in the long run with annual reports and other reporting measures.
5. Sustainability. This is a critical component to discuss when writing to a foundation or funder. How will I sustain my programs after I receiving the funding? Are you seeking multiple grants from different places? Could I add another revenue stream to my organization to help keep my programs up and running? Do I have fundraising events planned to help support my programs and operations? These are all things that come into play when thinking of sustainability. This is a great time to insert highlights of growth from your organization’s strategic plan.
6. Ensure You Have Supplemental Documents- Do I have everything I need? The funder is asking for budgets, tax returns, and audits. Do I have all the things that accompany a good grant proposal? If you don’t have these items and only send in a proposal, chances are you will be declined due to the lack of instruction followed. It’s important to have these important documents on hand at all time because you never know when you will need them.
7. Grammar Matters. This one takes the cake for me. You can have the best organization, doing impactful work in the community and then your proposal is full of 4th grade grammatical issues. Don’t let your proposal get declined due to spelling and grammatical errors. There are plenty softwares to assist you with this or professionals like the advisors at Beanstalk FCR to construct grant proposals for you. I always hate to see great organizations get turned down due to grammatical errors.
8. Follow Instructions. This is key when submitting a grant proposal. Follow the funders instructions to the T. This makes life easier for you and them. Sometimes we may want to give them extra materials like “oh, I have a great brochure to showcase my programs” or I’ll put a booklet in here for them to browse through. If they did not ask for it, don’t send it. Your proposal may be getting seen by 1 person or 10, you never know so it’s important to just follow the instructions.
If you utilize the 8 key elements I just provided, you will be on your way to a great grant proposal. For more information on non-profit advisory help contact Beanstalk Fundraising and Community Relations (BFCR) at 832.917.4064, www.beanstalkfcr.org, or on our social media at @BeanstalkFCR. Managing Advisor-Owner Christina Payne, MBA @chrissyjpayne, Advisor Courtney Taylor, MBA @Taylor_Court and VP of Operations Brettne Hardeman, MBA @victoryb.