Shining Up Your Proposal

Applying for a grant is like selling a car. You want to be sure everything is in ideal condition to earn top dollar in a competitive market. Grants are a great way to fund your organization’s mission, but making your proposal stand out from the crowd might appear to be an impossible feat.

During the recent Bridge to Integrated Marketing conference in National Harbor, Md., Diane Berry Love, consultant and executive coach and Jenny Akagi, a nonprofit arts fundraising professional, gave a session titled “Grant Writing 101: All the Questions You Are Afraid to Ask.” In this session, some of the ideas they gave for making your proposal great were:

* Don’t crank out volumes of the same proposal. Research the foundation through their website, Form 990s, and previous grant awards history.

* Identify the pieces you will need from others to make your proposal. Get those requests out well in advance of the deadline.

* Work with program staff on evaluation measures and how results will be quantified. Know your organization’s programs inside and out. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions; be a reporter and get the “scoop” on your organization.

* Maintain a grants calendar and check it both weekly and monthly for accuracy.

* Get to know a foundation. What are their likes and dislikes? Get to know their story.

* Use your board members and senior staff. They can write a cover letter or be copied on the proposal. Keep involved board members informed about the application’s outcome.

* Set realistic growth goals for your foundation portfolio.