By: Drew Wherry – 6 April 2015
It sounds easy right? Write a grant, submit it, then sit back and wait for the money to start rolling in. But we all know that in reality… it’s not the way it works. Grant writing doesn’t happen overnight. Copies must be written, then edited, then rewritten. Then when everything is perfect, you submit. The process is time consuming and if there is one asset that nonprofits lack more then money, it’s time. So to help streamline the process Marilyn Hoyt came up with five strategies to help you and your organization efficiently solicit funds from foundations.
1. Re-purpose your proposal to more than one foundation. Don’t reinvent the wheel every time you sit down to write a proposal. Retool and tailor your message to the foundation that you are soliciting.
2. Tell the story of your work using the page most proposal reviewers look at first — the budget! Don’t forget to make the bean counters happy. The most well written grant can be derailed by a poorly thought out budget. Your budget should clearly support your proposal narrative!
3. Write proposals that include general operating support. The truly unrestricted grant is hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include administrative costs in a program grant. So when ever possible, include general operating support in your project budget.
4. Build relationships with funders before you submit your proposal. You have spend years working on your soft skills. Now use them! You need to be out in the community, building the reputation of your organization and making connections. Sending a proposal to a funder “cold” should be your last resort.
5. When you get a “yes,” use the initial grant period to set the stage for your next proposal. The work isn’t over once you get the grant. Use the initial grant period to further engage your program officer and learn more about the foundation’s interests and objectives. That way, you’ll be in a stronger position when you approach him or her for a renewal.
The number of foundations in the U.S. and around the world is growing and so are the funds they have available for grant-making. But remember your time is valuable so when you are submitting grants to foundations make sure it is done effectively and efficiently.
About the Author
Drew Wherry is a junior at the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and is currently working on certificates in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy Communications. He is the Chairman of Tee it Up for the Troops – Iowa City Golf Event, the No Labels State Director of Iowa and Vice President of the University of Iowa Veteran Association (UIVA). After graduation Drew hopes to work in the nonprofit sector specifically with organizations that specialize in Veteran’s issues.