The grantmaker to which you’re applying is a good match. You’ve got to match the proposal to the interests and capacity of the funder. Be sure the funder has supported projects within the topic area of your proposed program, and that the amount you’re requesting fits within the funder’s typical level of giving for similar types of work.
Submitting a proposal to a funder who’s not interested in the topic, for an amount that’s off base, is a recipe for rejection. Here’s what you need to do, according to Cathleen Kiritz, executive director of the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
- Your organization is credible. Funders want to support programs that succeed, so the track record of your organization and its leadership weigh heavily. Give the funder reason to believe your organization can deliver what it promises. Highlight successful work within the topic area of the proposed program.
- The problem is significant. You must be able to document the significance of the situation that’s compelling you to submit the grant proposal. Paint a vivid picture of the situation, its effects on the community, why it matters, and what will happen if it is not addressed. The funder must understand why addressing the situation is important.
- Good planning is evident. Funders look for a logical, well-reasoned program plan that responds to the causes of the problem. Good intentions and altruistic feelings are nice but don’t necessarily produce meaningful action. When funders invest their money to address a community need, they want to know that there’s a realistic game plan for producing outcomes. Flawed planning can sink a proposal.
- Organizational governance is committed. Funders want to know that the issue to be addressed is significant; that the organization has designed a logical approach for addressing it; and that the board of directors and top administrators are all on board. When the highest level of governance is committed to the work, the prospects for success are greatly enhanced. Help the funder envision a dedicated group of people determined to get the job done.