Your grant proposals should consistently send one message, loud and clear, to all of your funder prospects. No, it’s not, “we really need your money.” It’s not,“see how great the need is in our community?” It’s not even “look at the impact your grant will make in our community.”
No. Your grant proposals should shout from every section: “Pick me, pick me! We are the best choice for your grant dollars.”
Some funders come right out and ask you to answer questions about your organization’s capacity to deliver the proposed services. They want to know how qualified your staff are, how stable your leadership is. They want to know that you have launched new programs in the past that have been successful.
Sometimes, they want you to assure them that you have enough space or time or financial resources to deliver all that you have promised. This is not the same as your Organizational Profile, even though your profile should also send a consistent theme of competence and professionalism.
But, when we are forced to describe our project in 2000 characters or less and the funder never comes out and asks how capable we are, what should we do? Tell them anyway.
It is essential to make space to describe your organization’s earlier successes and any awards or recognitions you have received. Drop names. Mention other foundations or major donors who have supported your work. In our region, if a local foundation knows you have received United Way support, they know you have a Logic Model, good demographic data and survived a site visit.
Sometimes the funder is asking about your financial procedures to ensure that you have appropriate checks and balances to properly manage and account for grant funds, or they may want to know that your board of directors is independent and not made up of your three family members.
One of the best ways to demonstrate that your organization is the right one in which funders should invest to achieve their goals is hard evidence of previous success.
Even if you are on a very tight budget and have been unable to perform an extensive evaluation of previous efforts, any organization can afford to send out a web-based survey to recipients of its programs. Just be sure to be thoughtful about the questions you ask so that you elicit more than just “satisfaction,” but real results.
If the space in which to make your case is extremely limited, you may have to content yourself with working in adjectives or short phrases to create the aura of competency. Possible samples include, “our qualified staff,” “previously successful programs,” “highly-rated client services.” But, never send out a proposal that doesn’t scream, “Invest in us!”
Convincing Others to Invest in Your Organization
1. You must share previous successes—this is no time for modesty!
2. Complete public profiles such as GuideStar’s. Donors check these.
3. Invest in surveys or other evidence that your clients/ students/
patients, etc. received excellent services from your team.
4. Use the language of success and competence
Give us your suggestions on squeezing in a message that says “Invest in Us!”