For many not-for-profits, funding grants are integral to delivering their programmes and services, and for some, it is their primary source of funding. However, the process of applying for grants can often seem complex and overwhelming. Anne Morais has over 15 years of experience in writing successful grants, and she shares her knowledge and expertise regularly on her website.
Here is a quick summary of her 5 Tips to Securing Grant Funding:
There needs to be perfect alignment between the organisation, the intended beneficiaries, and the grant makers. It is always important that the programme aligns with the organisation’s mission and, at the same time, it should align with the needs of those you are looking to help. Not-for-profit leaders should remember that the programme is about the needs of those they serve and not the needs of their organisation. And finally, it should align with the priorities of the funder.
Create A Clear and Consistent Programme Design
It is important to establish a clear objective. Create a detailed description of what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to do it. Funders need to understand how their money is going to benefit those in need. Remember the outcome is the most important part of the process. It needs to be results based and not theoretical. Funders will ask for long-term, mid-term and short-term outcomes. A good idea is to find a clear example of how a similar programme has yielded positive results.
Use Clear, Consistent and Collaborative Writing
"For grant writing, the greatest tool you have is words,” Morais says. Your words need to reflect both clarity and thought. Assume that the person you are writing for knows nothing about the sector. Limit the number of ideas to one paragraph each. Do not use weak verbs like “I look to”, rather use “I will.” Always remember that the goal is to solve a problem, so consistency in all aspects is very important. It is also a good idea to incorporate the funder's language and vocabulary as much as possible (this can often be found in their criteria for making an application).
Keep an open mind to partnerships. Collaborating with other local organisations demonstrates that you are solving the problem. Partnerships can work on many levels, including fundraising, service provision or promotion. Start thinking about partnerships before writing the application. Look at where you need help. Be open to working with for-profits, government departments and local groups, in order to get things done. "It is about identifying what you do well and what you don’t do well, and finding a solution,” Morais says.
Create a Good Budget for the Project
Design a budget that is realistic and practical. It needs to be reasonable and cost-effective from the point of view of the funder. Ensure the maths are right. Funders sometimes provide their own budget form, so it is important to follow the guidelines. Do your research beforehand.; some funders have specific parameters when it comes to certain costs, like administration, which is often between 12-15% of the budget.
To find out more about writing great grant proposals, visit Anne Morais’ website (Canadian viewpoint but still very relevant).