By: Sarah Childers
**This content pertains to procuring funds via the private sector
Here is what to remember when preparing a grant proposal. When it is all said and done, you need the following 2 items to be contained in there. Period.
1. A Stated And Proven Need – This is obvious, you have a need, hence why you are doing what you are doing. But, do you have statistical evidence backing up your need and/or claims as to how you will meet the need? No? Then you need to go research and strengthen your proposal.
For Example: You want to teach art to children. Then you need to find stats pertaining to how therapeutic art is for a young mind. I would even venture to say there may be some sort published evidence proving it helps their brain grow as well. I may be way off, but do you see where I am going with this? I have a friend with adult ADHD. However, she is able to sit and concentrate for hours in an art gallery. We have no idea if there is a clinical name given to what she experiences, but we have never really looked to see if one exists.
2. Milestones, Timelines, And a Baseline of Measurement – You need to be able to know how you are progressing. These variables will tell you and the donor if what you are doing is working (remember what we discussed earlier.)
****When you can, keep your summary short, sweet, and simple – Some application guideline formats set a word limit on how long your proposal needs to be, others, maybe not. In the event you don’t have a limit, my suggestion is to not compose a dissertation to send to them. Keep it around 2 pages long. Remember, the foundations are sifting through a ton of paperwork when reviewing applications. Try to get your point across, but don’t give them so much information that it takes up a lot of their time. I know, it is very easy to start getting lost in a haze of words when you are pouring your heart out in a proposal. But, you need to keep it as short as possible. Have a friend edit it as if they were considering it to be funded. A third party perspective may help you.
Here are some more pointers that have worked for me in the past.
1. Your best bet is to divide the total amount you need up into smaller amounts. Then for every “piece of the pie,” so to speak, apply with at least two different foundations. For Example: you need $20,000 for a program you want to implement. Find 8 different foundations and request $5000 from each of them. If you only receive $10,000 total, scale down and make it work. If you actually receive all $40,000, pinch every penny and run the program for two years while keeping everyone in the loop as to where the funds went. If you end up with extra, do not assume you can spend it on something else. If you do need something else, ask them if it’s ok if you go get that, “something else,” before you spend the money. Also, I want you to know the answer is “yes,” when including administrative salaries in with the amount you are requesting. The tricky part is knowing ahead of time if the private foundation will consider it. If they do, include a portion of what you are requesting in the proposal. Also, keep the salary comparable with the standard in your area.
2. Whatever program you are creating, make sure there is not a variable in it that you can achieve for less or even for free. You would be surprised how many individuals tell me they want to start off with something that is top of the line, and expect a donor to pay for it. How would you like it if someone did that to you?
3. Don’t forget your short term/long term goals, milestones, timelines, and baseline of measurement. Make sure to convey these things on the application. I apologize if I am nagging, but please double check your proposal.
4. Have something lined out in your proposal where you will meet the donor halfway. Maybe matching funds can be used for the program or even volunteer hours. I don’t care if it’s a cow, 2 chickens, and a goat you can bring to the table. Just come to the table with something. This shows initiative on your part.
5. Start off small and grow your organization and its programs over time. Your program is considered a pilot program. You need to work out the kinks before you expand. I am not a huge fan of projecting large amounts from a platform for a new program because of this very reason. A lot can get lost in translation, and it will be easier to turn a kayak around vs a cruise ship in the event you spot an iceberg.
6. Go the extra mile. There is going to be an area where the entity will want you to tell them a bit about yourself. Don’t hold back. Let your passion for your cause shine through. Give them the details and be honest. Tell them what you have done and what you are about. Some entities will let you send additional items such as pictures or videos. If they allow it, DO IT. In addition to visual items, letters of recommendation from other individuals will help immensely. However, I want you to obtain these items from places that have nothing to gain in the event your proposal is funded. If you send correspondence from others that will reap a monetary benefit by your nonprofit being funded, chances are the trustees of the private foundation will pick up on it. You want your proposal composed in a sheer, unadulterated, altruistic form. This means showing the entity you are applying with, how much you mean to your community. You are worth someone’s time, and you are worth what you are asking for. Remember that.
Once you send off the proposal, it may be a few months before you hear back from anyone pertaining to anything. Some Boards only meet every few months. Be patient.
I also want you to know that you are going to receive more rejection letters than you know what to do with. I use mine for lining the birdcage, but to each their own. In the event you were rejected by an entity, don’t take it personally. Use the process as a tool for learning something and you’re not even out any tuition!
Until Next Time,
Bare Philanthropy LLC
Disclaimer ****The material appearing in this publication is for informational purposes only, and is not certified professional advice. Please do not act on any information contained herein without seeking competent professional counsel.