Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Win Grants Stay the Course!

There's so much competition out there for grant dollars.  You have to be on your mark at all times.  Betsy Baker, once again, gives great advice when it comes to competing for funders.  The devil is in the details and frankly the presentation.  To use the "active" voice is very important, you must appear confident and show the funder that you will succeed, that funding your organization will not be a waste of their money or their time.  Bunnie

by Betsy Baker, Your Grant Authority

Why exactly did I pick the month of June to resume my daily running routine?  Because after more months than I care to share with you without this routine, my body and my lifestyle were paying for the absence.  I could kick myself in the behind for going this long without it and it only makes it just that much harder to get back into the swing of things. 

Could it be that you’ve become lazy like I have when it comes to completing a grant application to the best of your ability?  You let a few details slide at first and then before you know it your application has landed in the rejection pile.  Yes, it’s easy to become a bit more laid back in the summertime but its important not to let your work be a reflection of that.

Remember, you are always in competition for grant dollars.  Here are just a few reminders of details that don’t need to be overlooked:

Pick the Right Grant Funder to Apply for Funding.  Don’t let your research skills slide.  Pay attention to the grant funder’s mission and note what it is they want to fund.  And don’t try to tailor your project to fit their mission just for the sake of their money – stay true to your own mission.  Keep digging and find the right fit looking for a matching mission, the correct geographic location (do they fund where your organization is located?) and an interest in the particular population you’re trying to serve.

Pay Attention to Your Statistics.  A compelling grant application is based on both personal examples and factual statistics.  If it has been a while since you gathered new data for the folks your organization serves it may be time to consider doing so.  Should you complete another needs assessment, organize another focus group or check for updates to other factual data that affects your client population such as, for example, poverty rates, deaths by incident, crime rates, etc.?  According to your nonprofit’s mission, social indicators can bear heavily in a grant funder’s decision to award you.

Make Your Application Visually Pleasing to the Reader.  Whether you like to admit it or not, we are all drawn to something that is visually appealing.  This includes the presentation of your grant application.  Even the application that is filled with compelling stories and facts loses something in translation if it’s sloppy.  Present your application in the third person as this is more professional and write in an active voice.  Be sure to define all acronyms, write in simple sentences and be enthusiastic about your project.  Write “We will…” rather than “We hope to…” as this conveys confidence.  Also, break up the text of your application and highlight key points with bullets, italics, boldface and headings (and charts and graphs where appropriate) but don’t get too fancy!  Grant funders can slice right through all flash and no substance.

Show a Willingness to Collaborate and to Share Your Knowledge.  Grant funders love to see an organization willing to partner with other agencies in a grant project.  There are many nonprofits that serve the same target population and it only makes sense to collaborate to best meet their needs.  Partnerships reduce a duplication of effort and nonprofits can share resources diminishing both cost and effort.  Think about other nonprofits in your area that would be a natural fit for you to collaborate and approach them with an idea.

Also, why not spread the love?  If you have a successful project, be willing to share the “how-to’s” of it.  Feature your project on your website and by other publicity and be available to other agencies in helping them establish a successful project in their own community.  Grant funders take notice to a nonprofit’s willingness to share the how-to steps of their success in helping other communities benefit.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

So, I’m going to stick to my course with no shortcuts this summer.  I will be a lean, mean energetic machine in just a matter of a few weeks!  How about you?  Don’t take those shortcuts and you’ll see a difference too –  as you watch your funding grow by leaps and bounds.  (Hopefully, I’ll be reducing as you’re gaining, right? ;)

Want more grant writing and grant consulting tips?  Be sure to sign up for my f.r.e.e. ezine where I share all my secrets!  Connect with me here..

    

3 comments:

  1. Stay the course is such great advice. Sometime's it's hard to see what's around the bend, but so often we quit just before the big breakthrough. Over the past three years, I lost 40 pounds by consistently eating less and tracking my calorie intake and output. It's a simple concept, but it requires long-term commitment. Simply stay the course :-).

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  2. I don't recall the latest stats about how much information an average person is bombarded with in one day, but I do recall it is an enormously high volume. It is so easy to see how we can lose focus of our goals and slip into a routine that isn't getting us results.

    Betsy, great advice to help keep organizations on track.

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  3. A compelling grant application is based on both personal examples and factual statistics. If it has been a while since you gathered new data for the folks your organization serves it may be time to consider doing so.
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