4 Ways To Coordinate Collaborative Grant Proposals
nonprofit management tips

Pulling together organizations with complementary missions can accomplish more than one organization working alone. Collaboration is a best-practice expectation and it’s common for several organizations to play major roles in planning and implementing programs.

“When a group of organizations join forces to tackle a problem, grant proposals to support that work must reflect the partnership,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. There are also some challenges to getting everyone together. They include:

  • Who’s in charge? One organization must serve as the applicant for grant funding and assume responsibility for program implementation, fiscal management, and reporting. Identify the applicant clearly and demonstrate its capacity to play the leadership role. Give the funder confidence that the applicant can lead the team and get the job done.
  • Who are the partners and what are they contributing? Funders need to understand the competence and commitment of partner organizations. “The robust involvement of high-quality partners is a big plus for your proposal,” said Floersch. “Highlight the expertise and qualifications of the organizations involved. Specify the resources each has committed.”
  • Who will do what? Clearly define the tasks and responsibilities to be handled by each organization. If the project is complex, a flow chart might help. Be sure to attach letters of commitment or Memoranda of Understanding that sync with the proposal narrative.
  • How does the partnership effect the budget? Partner organizations bring cash and in-kind resources into the program. Those contributions must show up in the budget. And, it’s usually necessary to provide partner organization with a portion of the requested grant funding to support their work in the program. To fully explain the financial arrangements, the line-item budget and budget narrative should delineate the resources partners are giving, and the grant funds they will be getting.


To prevent the confusion that so often plagues collaborative grant proposals, take extra care to ensure that the roles, responsibilities, and contributions of each partner are crystal clear. Double check to ensure there’s no contradiction between sections, and that the budget accurately reflects the proposal narrative. © Copyright 2016, The Grantsmanship Center