Part Three of a Three-Part Series on Proposal Writing
Most grant-making foundations have a mission and vision. They make grants to nonprofits as a way of bringing their mission and vision to life. Your nonprofit may be just what a foundation is looking for. But how will you know? Foundation research is one answer. Marlene Lynn, professional proposal writer offers her expertise on this topic and related questions.
"Foundation research identifies grant funding prospects for your programs, including an assessment of the prospect's funding potential, as well as funding criteria, application guidelines, deadlines, giving history, and procedures for submitting a proposal or LOI. I recommend doing research and putting the findings into a prospect report. This document will include a list of funding prospects with an assessment of the funding potential for each prospect, as well as funding criteria, application guidelines, deadlines, giving history, and recommended next steps for cultivating and/or submitting a grant request."
We asked Lynn about instances where programs may not be an "exact fit" with the funder's guidelines. "I would see if a board member or volunteer has a connection with the funder, and if so, follow the recommended steps outlined in question above. The funder may be able to make a gift from discretionary (unrestricted) funds based on this connection. Don't be afraid to call the funder (unless their guidelines prohibit it), tell them your idea, and ask for their feedback. They will usually tell you whether to submit or what your prospects of a favorable review might be. If none of this is possible, you could weigh the input (how much resources are needed for the proposal or LOI) versus the possible output (amount of funding and reporting requirements)."
Other questions covered following up on a proposal and how an organization should prepare to work with a proposal writer. "Funders usually say when they will make their decision. If you don't hear back by that date, then it is appropriate to follow up unless their guidelines tell you not to. For grant requests that are denied, my advice is the opposite. Always ask the funder for feedback on your proposal, unless their guidelines or denial letter say not to. A phone call – human interaction – is best. If a funder is considering your proposal for a long time, you might send them an update letter on new benchmarks you have reached since your proposal was submitted, perhaps with your latest annual report."
When preparing to work with a proposal writer, "There needs to be funding in the budget (and the bank!) for the position(s), whether staff or consultant. This ensures the work can be completed, and it shows funders your organization is committed to achieving its mission. Funders don't want to support programs that may not be around next year."
Visit Lynn at https://sites.google.com/site/mlynnbaptista.
© Copyright Mel and Pearl Shaw.
[Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They provide fundraising counsel locally and nationwide. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.]