What You Should Know Before You Write Your Grant
You have found a grant you think is a great fit for your organization and you want to apply for those funds. What information should you know about your organization as you begin gathering the documents and information requested in the grant announcement?
Mission And Vision
Your organization has one. You should know it and need to find out what it is if you don’t. You should also be aware of how the program you are seeking funding for fits in with that mission. If it doesn’t, it may be time to have the Board of Directors revisit the mission statement.
Organizations that begin seeking funds outside of their mission- or mission creeping– tend to find themselves operating failing programs; those within the mission and outside it. The focus of the organization and any of its fundraising has to be mission focused.
Some organizations never track this information. But if you don’t sound your own horn, who will? Several organizations update a spreadsheet each year with all the previous years’ accomplishments. That keeps all of the information fresh and current. This list started at day one of the decade old organization and included all added policies, grant funds, staff hires. No information was too small; information can be culled from the list to provide applicable data when asked for. This list also gives you a historical context of the organization and can be used by staff who come later to update themselves on the history of the organization.
Policy Around Board Giving
There is often a debate among non profits as to what the giving nature of the Board of Directors should look like. The old adage about the giving function of the Board being to: “Give, Get or Get Off” isn’t always true. Each Board is different and each Board will have their own policy. Many Boards will have a policy about “!00% Giving”. Generally this will mean that every member of the Board will give but the amounts may vary. Some require a certain amount. They may all be different but , as the grant proposal writer, you will need to know what that policy is so that you can address it in your narrative. Being able to say there is !00% Board Buy In carries weight in an application.
This will vary from community to community and from program to program. If you are providing social services versus housing, the numbers will be vastly different. But all actions have an impact. and as the person responsible for relaying those impacts, it will be your task to make sure that you can describe them in such a way to illustrate to the funder the significance your organization has on the community.
One community housing and revitalization non profit illustrated their impact by offering US Census Data from the year before they started work in a community that indicated the neighborhood was a low income census tract and followed that with data from three years into their program that illustrated the neighborhood was now moderate income.
This data indicated an increase in the wealth of the community that was fully attributable to the creation of new affordable housing, a community garden, new infrastructure, and a general revitalization and renewal of the community all because of this one small non profit and their 18 staff members. They changed the face of a community and rewrote the potential for the historic neighborhood and the people who call it home. Know your impact and use that impact to tell your story.
Terry Ford is an experienced noprofit manager. She always verifies the clarity of her business writing with a grammar checker. Her ongoing passion for writing is the result of a childhood surrounded by the classics. Terry keeps a copy of Macbeth on her nightstand.Published in Business
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