Monday, November 19, 2007

Top 10 Grant Writing Tips from Foundations

Happy Thanksgiving! If you would like to assist those in need this year call your local food bank, homeless shelter, or other favorite nonprofit to volunteer, or donate money, drop food/clothing, and provide what you can.

10. When considering applying to any foundation for a grant, be certain that the foundation is interested in the cause that your organization serves, gives to organizations in the geographic location that you live in, and offers grants for what it is that your organization needs the grant for. How? Read my post, "About Grant Guidelines..."

9. Do not phone the foundation that you are going to apply for a grant to IF they do not prefer to be contacted by phone. For that matter, some foundations do not want to be contacted at all. Others prefer that you do call before submitting a letter of inquiry or application proposal. Still others only want email communication. How can you know, foundation to foundation, what they each prefer? Read the foundation's Giving Guidelines and/or read the foundation's website under their "Contact Us" section. If you aren't sure, submit a Letter of Inquiry expressing your organization's mission, work, specific need for their grant, your organization's success, and get their response. It will guide your further contact with them.

8. Work and re-work your proposal drafts until all of the information that the foundation asks for is in the letter of inquiry and proposal, in a clear and succinct easily read document. Read "That Darn First Paragraph In Your Grant Proposal" and "Be Succinct In Your Grantwriting"

7. The most vital aspect of your grant proposal is describing what you need the grant for. See my post... "...Writing In Your Proposal About What You Need the Grant For" and "The Word "Gets" Is In "Budgets""

6. Save yourself and the foundations that you apply to some time. Be sure that the foundations that you apply to give to organizations like yours'. In order to understand which organizations the foundation that you're considering prefers to give to - it is important to find out who they've donated grants to in the recent past. You can do that by researching the foundation's IRS tax form 990. It is public record. How? See my posts, "The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 - Part 1" and "The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 - Part 2"

5. Be certain that your application has a good chance of getting funding by doing your homework on which foundations to apply to. How? Read my post "How Do I Prepare to Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?" Randomly mailing applications to any and all foundations wastes your time and resources.

4. View the grant writing process as an opportunity to develop a new donor. Whether or not the foundation gives to your this giving cycle or not, they may in the future if they do not, now. Demonstrate your organization's professionalism with a strong proposal, follow the giving guideline's rules, provide the organization with every bit of information and documentation that they request, and do not give them 'extra' documentation or information. Meet deadlines. If you do not have the time to do the grant writing for your organization, hire a professional grant writer. How? Read my posts, "How Do We Afford Grant Writing?" , "What Are the Steps to Hiring A Grant Writer?" and and to prepare for your newly hired grant writer read,
"Your Agency's First Grantwriter Starts Work Monday" .

3. Be honest in your grant proposal. Do not try to tell the foundation what you think that they want to hear and 'bend' the truth. Foundations know that nonprofits face financial and operational difficulties and many today like to assist programmatically besides financially, when they can.

2. If you do not know how to create a budget, for your proposal work with someone who does or learn how to, and provide a clear, concise, coherent budget that matches the information in your written proposal. See the last link in number 7, above.

1. Do not expect a foundation to pay for your grant writer's fees and expenses. If you do - report all grant writing costs in your grant application and its accompanying budget. See my posts, "Grant Writers On Commission" and "Grant Writers, Commissions, Best Practices, and the "Why?" of it All..."

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