Getting your grant seen, let alone accepted, can be challenging. Especially when you feel so passionately about a project and don’t understand why no one else seems to be taking an interest. There are a few things that you can do to help get your grant proposal seen. We’ve put together a list of 5 Do’s and Don’t to help you on your way to getting your grant seen AND accepted.
Submit your grant to a funder with the same priorities as you.
Foundations tend to have their own missions in mind, with set goals for themselves. For example, the Ford Foundation support these main causes; Civil Rights, Education, Arts and Culture, Human Rights, Poverty Reduction, and Urban Development. Therefore if your project is about the environment, they probably won’t look at it. So do your research first and find a foundation with a similar ethos to you.
Don’t submit funding proposals that fit your view.
By this we mean don’t get too up close and personal with the project. You need to put yourself into the shoes of the grant managers and phase it in a way they will understand and make sure you explain it in a way that fits with their criteria. Even if you have a much better understanding of the issues, do not submit your view, represent that view in a way that works for that foundation.
Do your research on the grantmakers properly.
There are a huge range of foundations out there. Different sizes, different missions and different application processes. That’s why it is crucial to do your research before applying anywhere. A lot of funders are very small meaning that their information may be harder to find, and they may not have full-time staff to help with your queries. However, you can find out which funders do and do not accept applications by doing your research. For general information about most public funders you can do an internet search on keywords to find their websites, annual reports, publications and media coverage. Just make sure you do this before you start applying.
Don’t ask for a grant for a general cause, be specific.
Most grants are funded to very specific causes. Having a specific project, instead of general aid, is much more likely to get funding. Both individual people and organisations like to see where their money is going, with a specific project/cause it is easier to measure this impact and to see the results of their giving.
Contact the grantmaker before starting your proposal.
The personal touch always helps If you were to call, or even drop an email, to a funder before completing the application they are more likely to remember and fund your project. Many foundations encourage this as part of their system, but you’d already know which ones from your research.
When doing this, make sure that you understand their guidelines and see if they have funded something similar in the past. It is key to make a relationship with them over time.
The number of grants submitted should not be an indicator of success.
There are so many measurements to be aware of and not just how many grants you have submitted. Check things such as how many new funding opportunities you have identified, the number of conversations you have had with grant funders, positive feedback received, satisfactory cost-profit ratio and whether you have reached your budget targets.
Differentiate your organization from the others.
Being unique is always a great way to stick in someone’s mind and to show your innovation. Grant Managers can get hundreds of applications a day, so making yourself stand out from the crowd is a good idea. Clearly outline in your proposal what sets you apart, whether it be a unique cause, demographic, or your solutions. Make it clear you’re not like the others and you deserve that grant!
Don't submit the same proposal to more than one person in the foundation.
Even if you have a unique proposal, creating just one and sending it to 20 people in the same company isn’t doing you any favours. Worse than that is sending out a generic proposal to all of them! Funders are experienced in spotting general proposals and will quickly reject them. Show that you are making an effort. Don’t be lazy, it won’t pay off.
Show that you have received grants in the past.
If you are a first-time grant seeker, I apologise for this one. But if you can show that your project has been funded before you are much more likely to get funding again. “Success breeds success”. This previous funding proves that you are supported in your community and that you are sustainable.
Do not ask for too much.
Know your funders limits It’s better to ask for less and receive it, then push your luck asking for a lot and getting nothing in return. Find out how much your donor usually grants and take it from there. Make sure you have realistic goals and don’t set your standards too high.
These are just 5 of our top tips on how to successfully get your project funded but there is so much more information we can give you. That’s why we have created an entire white paper rammed with information on how to make your grant seeking a success. You can download the full report HERE for FREE!