Does the idea of asking for funding from complete strangers overwhelm you? Have you heard about “getting grants,” but don’t know exactly where to begin? There are a plethora of funders and grantmakers who are ready and willing to provide funding to nonprofit organizations through grant-giving. While applying for and receiving grants is not an end-all-be-all development strategy, it is a great way to diversify your organization’s funding, create and grow new programming, and help complete projects you once thought were impossible. Read below for our tips to consider during the application process when grant writing for nonprofits!
5 Best Practices When Grant Writing for Nonprofits
At EVOLVE to Lead, we assist you in writing successful grant applications that will increase your reach in your community. By prioritizing storytelling and data, using clear and concise language, tailoring your application to the funder, sharing the compelling narrative of your finances, and having someone mock-review your application, you greatly increase your chances of winning the funding you need. These 5 grant writing tips will help you streamline your process, making grant writing a part of your organization’s long term financial growth.
1. Prioritize Storytelling and Data
Storytelling is a centuries-old method used to convey complex ideas in ways that everyone can relate to. We’re sure your nonprofit was founded on a strong mission — now utilize that same passion as a starting point when writing your grant proposal. Telling the story of your “why” will help grant-givers understand why they should also be passionate and invest in your mission. Create imagery in your grant proposal that paints a picture of the work you do in your community. Share actual stories of the impact your organization has made on people’s lives. And make sure to back up these stories with specific data! Statistics about your organization, your community impact, and your past successes will all help legitimize your story. Always make sure the data you use is relevant and well organized within your nonprofit grant proposal.
2. Use Clear and Concise Language
Make sure to keep your language as clear and concise as possible throughout your grant proposal. Once you have piqued the interest of your potential funder by sharing your organization’s unique story and backing up your ask with concrete data, go through and cut out all unnecessary fluff! Some ways to remain clear and concise include: writing in an active voice, utilizing recognizable words, and making your points quickly. The more simple, realistic, and straightforward the better. Remember, funders are reading many grant applications and you don’t want them to get lost in yours and move on to the next one!
3. Tailor the Grant Application to the Funder
Trust us when we say that funders can immediately tell when someone has sent the same grant application to many grantmakers. It simply doesn’t sound genuine. Finding the appropriate funder to send your proposal to requires A LOT of research. Tailoring your application involves identifying if the grantmaker supports programming that aligns with your organization. Once you have done that research, use it to tailor your application to each grantmaker you apply to. This will allow you to find specific connection points between your organization’s mission and the funder’s mission, ask the right questions when communicating with the funder, and sound like you truly know what you’re talking about. While it does take more time and effort to tailor each application to each individual grantmaker, your hard work will be reciprocated when the funder feels that you genuinely care about receiving financial support from them specifically.
4. Share the Compelling Narrative of Your Finances
A compelling financial narrative is crucial in securing funding for your organization. A well-crafted budget proposal that is realistic, detailed, and goal-oriented will build a funder’s trust in your nonprofit organization. Make sure you align your financial narrative with the stories and data you shared in your grant application. And beyond that, ensure this proposed budget aligns with the grantmaker’s budget requirements. Be specific in detailing how you will use the money in upcoming projects, including matching funds if you have any, and the strategy you will use to achieve the funding plan in the time you intend to. Position your nonprofit as a trustworthy, sustainable organization that has the ability to follow through financially!
5. Have Someone Mock Review It
When you have labored through the research and writing process and finally think that your grant proposal is finished, STOP! Now it is time to find someone to mock review your grant proposal before sending it in. Preferably seek out an editor in a different line of work than you, who is not so familiar with your proposal. Ask your mock-reviewer to point out any words and concepts they do not understand. Do they think you have answered all the questions the grantmaker has asked you to? Have them double-check that you correctly followed all submission criteria. When you are so invested in a project, you often miss the most obvious tasks and make the simplest grammatical mistakes. New eyes on your work just before submission can do wonders for your grant proposal! If you have someone put in the work for you, make sure you are open to their suggestions and do follow through in making appropriate changes to your writing.
Write Your Next Grant with EVOLVE to Lead!
We get it! Grant writing can be intimidating! After you reflect on our 5 simple grant writing tips, you will be ready to start drafting your proposal. It is no secret that effective grant writing requires genuine effort and persistence. At EVOLVE to Lead, we have an 85% success rate in grant writing for nonprofits and we would be happy to help you tell your organization’s story in your next proposal. Remember — you will never receive financial assistance if you don’t ask for it. Tackle grant writing season with EVOLVE to Lead today!