Sunday, April 12, 2009

How to Write the Organizational Description In A Grant Application

For each grant donor (foundation, government, etc.) that you apply for - always be sure to locate and read over the donor's giving guidelines, website (if they have one), and their most recent IRS tax form 990 (which can be located on www.guidestar.org) to understand what the donor accepts grant applications to fund (which cause(s) they are funding, what kinds of programs and projects they fund, and in what geographic regions do they fund organizations' work). If any of their interests, or what or where they fund do not match up with what your organization is proposing to do in the location it will do it - you are not finished prospecting and should perhaps find a grant donor that is more closely aligned (in its interests in what types of organizations it grants to) with what your nonprpofit is doing.

If, in any of the potential donor's literature they request specific information be included in or omitted from the grant proposals submitted to them, always follow their direction. Each foundation is different from the next and each grant donor will want something different from the next grant donor during the application process. Streamline, tailor, and form each grant application, individually, according to each potential grant donor's requests, recent giving history, and requirements.

In general, when writing about your nonprofit's organizational history, it is best to include the following:
__ How the organization came to be
__ What the organization's mission is
__ Why your organization, specifically, is needed right now to address the need in the community that it does
__ What programs, services, research, (etc.) your organization provides, how this offering is key to your organization's mission statement (demonstrating how your agency's mission statement is provided to the community)
__ What the beneficiary population's demographics are (demonstrating the real current need in the community that your organization serves). At another place in the grant proposal you will fully discuss the beneficiary population - so do not go into detail, here, about it. Here, do make it clear what is so necessary about serving this population right now).
__ Provide (do not go into great detail, though,) any recent awards, officially granted accolades, achievements, organizational successes above and beyond, etc.
__ Provide the credentials, expertise, and longevity of experience any and all of the key leaders or the organization's programs designer(s) have
__ You may choose to finish this section of the grant proposal with a clear but short description of the agency's current vision, its new goals, and where its heading (and why).

For each of the suggested contents, above, always be concise, clear, and compelling. Never lie, exaggerate, or leave the truth. Be confident, instead, in the work that the organization is doing, has done, and why it is needed today. To do so - make it clear and easy to understand: why anyone would be wise to invest in your nonprofit by sharing its potential, successes, and achievements by providing achievements, listing your expert and credentialed professionals running the programs, demonstrating your agency's regular and ongoing successes, and the best way to demonstrate to any potential donor (including a grant donor) that your agency is run professionally, ethically, and according to best practices is through the financials, recent audit, the list of your current board members, etc. which won't have to spell out all of the excellence, but rather demonstrate it through the picture they, combined, create of your agency. For more grant proposal writing tips read my post, Grant Proposal Writing Tips

Keep in mind, when writing the organizational description section of the grant proposal, that some content that goes into that section will also be written about in other sections of the grant proposal and there they will probably be more expanded and fleshed out in more detail. For each and every section of the grant proposal - only include information and write about that included information in a way that is to the point of the section it is included in (be concise). In other words - be sure you're clear, before you describe the organization you know why any and all of the content that will be included in that section of the document must be included in that section and how and why it speaks to the description of the organization. Stick, in this section, to the relevant content that you develop.

This segment of the grant proposal may also be an opportunity for you to include how your nonprofit's work ties into the current granting goals of the grant donor organization's mission statement. Again, be short, to the point, but relevant, and compelling.

As you should in all content in the proposal, be sure to write a few drafts. Ask a friend who is also a good writer to read, mark up, and return the most recent draft. Take time, write, give yourself a break, re-read, edit, and then write another draft. Be sure to give yourself enough time to do all of this, prior to the proposal due date. Make sure that it is not a difficult document to read, everything that the potential donor requests is included, extraneous information has been cut, the document is pleasant to read, it is formatted clearly and again according to the grant donor's giving guidelines.

Take writing about the organization, itself, as an opportunity to demonstrate the quality, success, potential your organization offers to anyone in the community who is considering supporting it. Demonstrate these strong and enticing qualities through your organization's doings, goals, and strengths.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for this blog... i sure did get ideas from it.. God bless!!