When writing grant proposals, many nonprofits mistakenly focus their applications on programs and not the people or unmet needs that are being served.
Grant seekers hould be aware, funders rarely pay for ‘stuff.’ Foundations and corporations want to hear about people that are being helped. Funders also like to see client input in the creation of programs and services and the heavy involvement of all stakeholders. Board members should be investors in nonprofits. Time isn’t enough. Funders want to see board support.
Another common error: Groups molding programs to suit corporations or foundations, blindly chasing money rather than doing basic research. Are similar projects being funded? Where? What levels of funding do they provide? Research the board members or trustees of the group. What are their areas of interest?
Large national organizations are usually interested in doing pilots or research, supporting ideas that can be replicated,
Avoid a ‘Values Clash’ With Funders
You should develop relationships with funders who share similar values with your nonprofit. If they are local, invite them to the annual gala or ask them to participate on your advisory board. If they are a remote national funder, put them on your email list and make sure they get periodic updates on the good work you are doing across all your programs. You are not being a pest if you are sharing good news.
Other ways to improve your funding chances:
- Research: Access government websites and do simple keyword searches.
- Communication: Talk with funders in advance. The nature of the nonprofit world is not to withhold information. If you call funding sources, they usually offer good information about themselves and often other funding sources.
- Relationships: Nonprofits should develop relationships with other funding sources that have similar ideologies. Think partnerships.
- Evaluation measures: In writing grants, nonprofits need to include achievable goals. Listing specific behavior changes, using pre- and post-tests can be helpful. Applications without a firm set of metrics often or rejected out-of-hand.