10 Things You Wish You Knew About Grant Writing
Grant writing is many things — difficult, challenging, confusing, frustrating, mind-boggling and competitive. It’s rarely described as easy, fun or simple.
Because grant writing is so often a daunting activity — especially for small nonprofits whose staff members already wear many hats — it’s easy to rush through an application or cut corners. Many just simply struggle to produce a highly competitive proposal. When you send a less than perfect proposal out into the world, you might leave important foundations with a sense that your organization is disorganized or unable to properly manage grant funds. They might come to see you as a shaky investment, and if that impression stays with them, you’ll have a hard time convincing them otherwise.
As anyone who has researched grant prospects knows, the opportunities for funding partners are few and far between. No nonprofit can afford to leave a bad taste in the mouth of a foundation’s executives.
Things to consider
Your grant applications will improve vastly if you keep in mind these 10 tips:
1. Don’t apply until you’re truly ready. If you don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to a fully formed, highly competitive and carefully proofread grant proposal, it is best if you sit this one out. Sure, the money is attractive, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors by submitting an application that’s less than your best. Similarly, if your organization is too new to have a strong track record of success, financial stability, a capable staff, a fully formed board and several years of solid finances, it’s best to wait.
2. Double-check the foundation’s contact info, meeting dates and guidelines. Small foundations may not have updated websites (or a website at all), or they may only have short entries in the Foundation Directory Online’s database. If this is the case, it helps to call the foundation and double-check that its contact info is up-to-date, its deadlines and board meeting dates are still accurate, and its guidelines and current grant focus are all updated. You may find that the foundation is only funding a single organization after a tough year financially or its contact person has changed. You can save yourself a lot of work by picking up the phone.