by: Helene De Laurentis, Chief Financial Officer
One potential way to fund your nonprofit is by obtaining grant money. A grant is basically a financial gift for a particular purpose. There are two sources of grant money, government entities and private foundations. Many nonprofits never apply for grants because the process can seem a bit overwhelming.
It is true grant writing can be pretty difficult. You cannot write one generic application and send it off to every available funding source. You will have to research the specific requirements for each one and then tailor your application accordingly. You should only begin writing a grant if you meet every requirement and have every qualification.
Typically there are many reasons beyond a grant writer’s control that can cause you to be turned down. Most first time applicants do not get funded. There are some things you can do to increase your chances. Here are 5 tips for writing grants that get funded.
- Include analytical data and measurable objectives. Many nonprofits don’t have their data together, which is why using software to track and report on everything you do is so critical.
- Ask for help. Talking to experienced grant writers and colleagues is a good way to increase your knowledge and receive guidance on how to include things that foundations are looking for. There is no substitute for experience.
- Make yourself valuable. Develop a list of core competencies through your publications. Create an online portfolio of skill sets, and you will be judged on your ability to deliver. Don’t submit a grant proposal until you have built up credibility through publications.
- Make your intentions for the grant clear. State your purpose in the opening paragraph assuming that your readers have extensive knowledge but not necessarily as much about your specific project. You should have a clear and logical beginning and end.
- Write Well. This is the most obvious and most important point. If you present a poorly written grant that will convey to the reader that you may not have the necessary skills to succeed. Write multiple drafts, eliminate errors and verbosity. If you have the funds you can hire a professional editor, but it’s ok to ask for feedback and revision ideas from coworkers and friends, you don’t necessarily need to spend money to receive money.