Grant Writing as a Nonprofit Fundraising Strategy, 8 Tips for Success

Of the three basic sources of revenue that fund nonprofits; earned income, donations from individuals and grants, the process of getting a grant is perhaps the most puzzling.fundraising_strategy

It is a rare nonprofit organization that could continue to carry out its mission if their grant funding dried up.

 All but the smallest nonprofit organizations are likely to have people on staff or use outside counsel who specialize in grant writing.

Executive directors who see the success or failure of winning grants as a fundraising strategy as residing solely in the hands

of the grant writer, fail to consider something even more important than the grant application—namely the purpose of the funding.

Poorly delineated projects, soft budgets, and a whole host of weaknesses simply can’t be overcome by a well-crafted grant proposal.

When it comes to performance, I believe that a grant writer should be evaluated on the quality of his or her work.

Aside from the obvious interpersonal skills, analytical problem-solving abilities and expository writing traits that are needed for grant writing, what other responsibilities should be included in the work of a grant writer? 

Whether you are new to grant writing or a seasoned professional, the goal of this article is to provide the reader with a basic outline of the obligations you should expect a grant writer to perform.

This overview is based on research I have done consulting various nonprofit periodicals including; Philanthropy News Digest, The Nonprofit Times and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 

It is by no means exhaustive, but I feel it’s a good start if you are looking to fill an open position on your grant writing team or approach a grant writing consultant. 

The grant writer will;

  • 1Gather information; through interviews and other means that will allow him or her to grasp the concept of a program or project for which funding is sought.
  • 2Acquire a sound knowledge of the organization; use that knowledge to better understand projects and programs for which grants will be sought.
  • 3Research grant making organizations; analyze grantmaking organizations such as corporate giving programs or foundations to identify funding sources for programs or projects.
  • 4Write the proposal; compile, write and edit the grant application using strong expository writing skills and a good command of grammar and spelling.
  • 5Review the budget for the project or program; after review make recommendations to better present it to the grant making organization. 
  • 6Develop grant proposal; exactly following each grantmaking organization’s guidelines, develop the proposal in accordance with the grantmaking organizations preferences.
  • 7Follow-up with the grantmaking organization; after the grant application is submitted, be sure to stay in contact with the funding source. A good follow-up strengthens the request and demonstrates to the funder the importance of their participation in your project.
  • 8Supply progress reports; if you are successful in winning a grant award, even if the funding source doesn’t require reports, it’s a good idea to send periodic progress reports to the funder. These reports are helpful for the foundation program officer monitoring your project as well as others in the foundation who may need this information.

Conclusion

Corporate and foundation grants are an important element of a nonprofit’s comprehensive fundraising strategy. 

One advantage of including foundations and corporate giving programs in your nonprofit fundraising plan is that these entities are structured to make charitable contributions.

They exist to allocate funds to nonprofit organizations and in many cases are bound by law to do so.

A partnership with a nonprofit can help a corporation or foundation achieve its goals such as increasing knowledge, providing programs or economic development.

These partnerships can be mutually beneficial when the interests of the nonprofit fit well with a funders goals.

If you’d like to learn more about increasing visibility with potential individual donors read our guide entitled How to Attract and Retain Donors.

You can download it here.

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