Get These Together Before You Need Them
Get These Together Before You Need Them

Proposal writers know that every submission is unique because potential funders deserve to be approached on their own terms, with a proposal responding to their particular concerns and focus. 

“Even though there are differences,” said Thomas Boyd, chief editorial consultant for The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., proposal writers can save themselves a lot of last-minute scrambling by gathering some materials that are almost always going to be required. Some of them, or all of them, ought to be in the tool kit.”

There are the basics that virtually every prospective funder will want to see: 

  • Your Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax-exempt letter; 
  • Your most recent financial statement; 
  • A budget for the program you’re proposing; 
  • A list of your board members with affiliations; and,
  • Your most recent Form 990. 

Think of these as required. (If you have three years’ financials, an audit of your organization’s books, a “management letter” from an accountant and a list of your most recent grant awards, with funder and amount, these should be included in the forms you might be asked to submit, according to Boyd.

Then there are some electives, materials you can assemble well before a specific proposal deadline. These could be biographical sketches of key staff or a single-sheet history of the organization — as long as it’s kept current and doesn’t feel like old news. If your organization has been recognized for its excellent work, assemble those mentions, clippings and reviews.

Does your nonprofit have a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policy? Are you in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other relevant regulations? You probably have a mission statement but is it clearly and simply stated in a form that can be included in an application? These are other things you can pull together before an actual proposal submission, according to Boyd.  

Many nonprofit leaders have created video presentations or printed visual materials that show the impact and vitality of the organization. Get them ready but don’t automatically include them. Many funders will explicitly warn you against submitting them at first. Follow the instructions but have such material at the ready.

There’s every reason to pull all of this together well in advance of submission season. That way, there’s no reason to pull your hair out when you are ready to hit “send” and you realize you don’t have the attachment. © Copyright 2022 The Grantsmanship Center