Tips for Putting the Right Words in a Grant Proposal
Grant writing is about presenting a compelling case for why a particular foundation should help fund your nonprofit’s mission. Creating that case requires an understanding of the funding requirements, a clear purpose that matches those requirements and the right words.
Dr. John Porter, executive director of the American Grant Writers’ Association, says the first thing an organization should do when it’s interested in getting funded by a foundation is find out if and when the foundation is going to have an information meeting in which it will discuss what it’s looking for in potential grantees and the purpose of the grant. These meetings are helpful because they can clue nonprofit grant writers in to the type of language to use in the grant.
The second thing to do is find the local Regional Association of Grantmakers group, a network for funders. Porter says most RAGs will have social events where grant writers can represent their organizations and rub elbows with local funders.
“A lot of times when you research grants you come across something that says ‘applications not accepted,’ and what that means is they give to people they know,” Porter says. “So if they get to know you, then it’s going to open you up a little bit more to be accepted by some of those foundations that do not accept applications. If they get to know you, then they’ll ask you directly for your application.”
Porter says the most important part of grant writing is fitting the organization’s project’s purpose to the grant. More often than not, an organization’s purpose won’t match up perfectly with the requirements listed in the request for proposal. It’s the job of the grant writer to work with the project representative for the organization to tweak the idea for the grant so that it matches the purpose and language of the foundation’s RFP.
As an example, Porter says about a month ago a bee farmer called him and asked for his help in getting grant money to build more hives. Presented this way — that a for-profit bee farmer wants more hives so that she can make more money — Porter told her he didn’t think she would qualify for any grants. But in speaking further with her he learned that bees kill a type of larva that grows on -- and is killing -- a good deal of avocado plants. She also told him about the nationwide bee shortage that’s been in the news lately. Because of these two facts, suddenly what sounded unfundable became a viable project for a grant.
Dr. Porter can be reached via www.agwa.us