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Grant Proposal Writing Tips

You know the drill

It is midnight and your grant or funding proposal is due tomorrow. Your assistant left hours ago, and the words on the computer screen start to blur. “It’s not worth it,” you think. And besides, only a few grants or funding proposals pan out anyway.

Grants are a big part of the not-for-profit world. And yet, according to some experts, fewer than ten per cent of grant proposals are ever funded. That is probably why grant writing is often viewed as a lottery with little hope of success. But it does not have to be that way. Here are a few pointers to make the writing process a little easier:

1. Know your organization. 

In your proposal, you need to prove your organization has a significant need and then come up with a solution to solve the problems. The more information you have at hand, the easier it is to answer questions on a grant proposal. Ask relevant staff members questions about your group’s programs, and use their answers to help write the proposals. If your employees have trouble providing answers you need, your organization may need to think through its ideas or document its experience more carefully.

2. Set up a system.

The requirements of grant applications are generally repetitive and predictable. Invest some time coordinating and preparing clerical material. You will find that with an efficient system, it’s just as easy to apply for 10 or 20 grants or funding proposals as it is to apply for one or two. And the more organized you are, the easier it becomes to tailor each proposal to the specific grant or funding proposal. Before getting started, contact the government or individual grant makers for their exact application specifications, requests for proposals and guidelines.

3. Build relationships. 

Experienced grant and funding proposal writers send a steady stream of information to funders to show that their organizations are responsible and effective partners. Relationships can be cultivated in a variety of other ways, from personal meetings to an invitation to a local event. These contacts give funders a way to develop a positive profile of your organization and to see that you will use their funds responsibly.

4. Work steadily. 

Do not wait until you are desperate. Steady, year-round grant seeking lets you gain control over the process. It also gives you the opportunity to carefully select who you will approach as a potential funder and how much to ask for. When you start from a position of power, you come across as a more secure investment.

Learn your craft. Like most skills, grant and funding proposal writing takes time to learn and can be frustrating at first. But keep doing research and writing proposals. Good writing skills are very important. The more you do, the better you become at crafting a good proposal.

The pay-off? An effective grant or funding proposal system that can speed and enhance your organization’s future work.

Smith Schafer has helped local nonprofits throughout Minnesota grow and thrive in their communities for the past 45 years. To learn more about how we can help, please contact a Smith Schafer professional.