To Win Funding, Get Solid Commitments

One organization can’t do everything, and go-it-alone grant proposals that don’t make good use of community networks and resources are not convincing. The most effective proposals include authentic collaborations where participating organizations pursue their own missions while also contributing to a common goal.

“Unless usual-suspect groups are involved as partners, funders will have questions,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “If an early childhood agency wants to improve child health through better nutrition, it only makes sense to work with the food bank and the community health center.”

Contributions of partners can be a powerful multiplier of grant dollars. Because those pledges are persuasive, they’re also part of the deal. If the grant request is funded, then partners must deliver on their promises.

To gauge partners’ sincerity, most funders require documentation– usually letters of commitment or memoranda of understanding attached to the proposal. “Vague promises don’t help,” said Floersch. “These documents must be an integral part of the proposal package.” Effective letters of commitment or MOUs:

  • Note any involvement in planning the program, and express confidence that the effort will succeed.
  • Express commitment to fulfilling the specific role and responsibilities discussed in the grant proposal.
  • Detail contributions of resources, time, expertise, facilities, equipment, or any other benefit pledged.
  • Express confidence in the applicant organization’s capacity to implement and manage the program.
  • Sync precisely with the proposal narrative and accurately reflect the agreements made during the planning process.
  • Are signed by people with authority to make commitments on behalf of their organizations.
  • “Unless the funder forbids it, attach these documents even if they aren’t required,” said Floersch. “They make your proposal more concrete and prove you’ve rallied the support you need to get the job done.” © Copyright 2017 The Grantsmanship Center.