6 Grant Writing Tips for Nonprofits
Grant writing is difficult! Deadlines, complicated guidelines and a 10 percent success rate can make the process discouraging. We've gathered some helpful tips to make grant writing a more enjoyable experience!
1. Do Your Research
Each year there is over $50 billion given to nonprofits from foundations and corporate grants. Doing your research is key in making sure your nonprofit has a shot at this funding. Find those foundations that you have a specific connection with. This will make the grantmaker more likely to stop and consider your nonprofit. Here are some things to look for:
- A mutual friend or connection that is involved with a foundation
- A foundation who gives to nonprofits working in similar cause areas
- A foundation that is local to your nonprofit's branch or headquarters
2. Follow All the Guidelines
With such tough competition, it would be a shame to be disqualified from a grant due to a technicality. Make a check list and calendar outlining all the required elements and deadlines you need to meet. Be wary of things like unique formatting requirements and questions with multiple parts.
Check out Vu Le's awesome tips on writing a LOI:
- Summary (your entire LOI, summarized in one paragraph. Spell out in the first sentence how much you are requesting and for what)
- Background and Needs (How did your program come about, what needs your program is addressing),
- Program model (what are you going to do to address the needs),
- Goals (what specific, measurable outcomes you are trying to achieve),
- Evaluation (how you will measure these outcomes),
- Budget (how much the project will cost in total, what other funders you have approached or have committed to the program),
- Timeline and work to date (when are you expecting to start the project and what major milestones will happen when, and what you have done so far; if possible, do a simple Gantt chart),
- Partnerships (highlight any awesome partners you are working with and their roles; optional if you don’t have any partners)
- Organizational background (add general information about your organization, such as history and mission), and
- Contact (your name, email, phone, website).
3. Address the Solutions More Than the Problem
You may be inclined to focus on an emotional story describing the problem your nonprofit is working towards eliminating. However, the foundation is more interested in learning about how you plan to use their money to solve that problem. Nonprofit Kinect recommends including specific problem solving steps you are going to take to demonstrate your nonprofit spent time on strategic planning.
4. Find a proofreader...and another one...and another one
You want to have as many sets of eyes look over your proposal as possible! It is obviously necessary to have other people at your nonprofit read through the grant proposal, but it's equally important to get the opinions of some people outside of your organization. Pamela Grow recommends having an objective outsider take a look at your grant proposal. If it makes sense to someone outside of the nonprofit sector, that's a good sign!
5. Use Outside Resources
Your nonprofits does not have to tackle grant writing alone! Although google and colleagues are helpful, there are other steps you can take to become a grant writing expert. There are classes and online courses that can help with your professional development! Check out GuideStar for some great options.
6. Be OK with Rejection
Odds are you won't succeed on your first, or second, grant writing attempt; that's ok! Use each rejection as a lesson to make you better prepared for your next proposal. Take time to reflect on what you could have done differently. Any rejection you face is another step you'll take towards becoming a grant writing expert!
If you have more questions about nonprofit strategy you can always reach out to the DipJar fundraising experts for help. It's what we love to do!