Grant Funding: You Only Have One Chance to Impress Donors
MAXIMPACT BLOG November 18, 2016 Maximpact.com
Whether you’re looking for grant funding for your organization or to launch a project, applying for grants can be a smart use of your time and resources. Grants are not only awarded to non-profit organizations, but are also given to small businesses with missions that align with the funder’s goals. Some organizations engage grant experts to come in and help them structure their project or business to better qualify for grants, identify available funding opportunities and funders, review and write grant proposals. A project or business only has one chance to impress the donor.
In the US alone, public and private funders award around $50 billion per year to organizations and projects. The main question is: How do you secure grant funding?
The answer lies in two key factors:
- Finding the right funders and grant calls.
- Crafting a winning grant proposal.
Locating Potential Funding Sources
The key to locating the best funding options for your organization is to search throughout both the public and private sectors.
As you conduct your research, be sure to make note of whether the foundation is accepting open grant proposals or if you need to seek permission before submitting yours. Many larger foundations will require you to speak with them first and will not consider any unsolicited proposals, so this is extremely important if you don’t want to waste your time and resources.
Alternatively, you can obtain a customized list of available funding opportunities and donors, that would suit your project or business – click here to find out more.
Exploring Public Funding Options
Government grants are typically a good place to start, especially with websites like Grants.gov making your search easier than ever (if you’re searching in the US). Specifically, you can use the keyword search option on this site to narrow down funding options that suit your specific organization’s goals and needs. Once you receive your results, you can explore individual opportunities and determine which are best suited for your application.
It is also recommended that you regularly check to see whether new funding opportunities are available. Funding source sites (such as Funds for NGOs) are updated frequently with new funding opportunities. If you spot a grant that has expired, don’t hesitate to contact the foundation and ask if it will be available again in the future.
Exploring Private Funding Options
Public grants aren’t your only potential source for funding. There are plenty of businesses, corporations, and foundations in the private sector that offer grant funding to a variety of organizations. Those funders can be found through online research. There are a many free sources as well as subscription-based ones, such as:
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- The Rockefeller Foundation
- The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Writing a Compelling Grant Proposal
Once you’ve explored your options and narrowed down the specific grants and funders you want to approach, it’s then time to work on writing a grant proposal.
Before you begin, however, keep in mind that most first attempts at grant proposals are not successful; you may apply for several grants before being awarded any funding. This is why it is very important to have a solid written grant proposal.
It’s all about honing and sharpening your grant-writing skills, which you will learn to do with practice. If you wish to save your time and resources, you can engage a grant proposal writer to help you write or edit your existing proposal. This small investment may pay off greatly in the long-run, as it will reduce your trial and error.
Pay Attention to Proposal Requirements
First and foremost, take the time to review all the foundation’s proposal requirements before you get started. The worst mistake you can make is to ignore these requirements, as most foundations will not even read a proposal that does not adhere to their guidelines. Many foundations will have specific formatting and content guidelines posted online, so print them out and keep them close by as you work on your proposal.
For this purpose, it is best to have your proposal reviewed by a grant expert once finished. The grant expert will proofread and determine whether your grant proposal contains all the needed information to make sure it is grant-ready.
Don’t Be Vague
A successful grant proposal is one that is specific in outlining outputs/outcomes, objectives, and other details on how the funding will be used. In writing your proposal, stick to facts and specific examples rather than opinions and dramatic language. Also, be sure to specify certain aspects of your funding needs, such as:
- How long the project needs funding
- Outcomes to consider the project a success
- Delegation of tasks or jobs among members
As important as details are, concise writing is also appreciated in the world of proposal writing. Say just enough to get your point across, but avoid flowery language or “fluff.” More than likely, the person reading your proposal has dozens (or more) other proposals to sift through; don’t waste their time.
Include Supporting Documents
Speaking of details, make sure to include any supporting documents with your proposal, but make sure they’re included in a labeled and organized appendix. Ideally, you should send no more than three separate files over as part of your proposal (including the appendix). An example of an additional document you may want to include is a letter of support from another member of figure within your organization or project. To ensure that all tables, charts, and other supporting documents/graphics are properly displayed when your proposal file is opened, it’s generally best to save your file as a .pdf rather than a .doc or other text document.
Getting into the world of grant research and proposal writing can seem overwhelming at first, but by keeping these guidelines and tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to having your organization’s first funding proposal accepted.
Engaging a Grant Expert
Engaging grant experts to assist you in identifying funding opportunities that match your project, writing or reviewing your proposal – is not a cost but an investment. If you have not yet successfully raised grant funds, then it would be best to have expert guidance and input in order to achieve the best possible results.
At Maximpact, grant experts have successfully written winning proposals and reviewed over 300 proposals. Engage a grant expert to help you in any of the three key areas:
- Identifying funding opportunities and sources
- Grant proposal review
- Grant proposal writing