Grant Proposal: Ready! Set! Go?

Writing the grant proposal… Submitting the proposal… Carrying out the program… Reporting on the results… Here are some tips to help you figure out if your nonprofit organization is grant proposal ready.

There are some key questions you should ask yourself:

Why are we writing this grant proposal? Is it because we are desperate to raise money, by any means necessary? Is it because we heard about a grant opportunity and we think we can probably maybe kinda sorta write up something that matches the donor’s interests? If this is why you are writing a proposal, stop right now. However, if you’re writing up a proposal to raise funds for a project that has been in the works for a while and is well thought out, or if you are writing a well-reasoned grant proposal to raise general operating support, you’re probably in the right place to move forward.

Can we meet the proposal deadline? (If there is a specific deadline) And can we meet the deadline without burning out our staff or letting other important things fall apart?

Can we complete the entire proposal – submitting not just the narrative (description of the project or organization) but also all of the ancillary material, like budgets, audits, board lists, etc.?

Can we actually carry out the program that is described in the grant proposal? Do we want to carry out the program?

If we get a grant, and there are reporting requirements (such as submitting a report with data twice per year), can we meet those requirements?

Do we have all of the information we need in order to complete the proposal? If there are key pieces of information that we do not have right now, how difficult will it be to get them?

What if you are not grant proposal ready?

It takes a strong leader to admit that you might not be ready to pursue an opportunity. Start by patting yourself on the back! And then, set your plans in motion.

  • I strongly believe that every nonprofit organization should have a general operating support proposal ready at all times. Not only can you use that proposal to pursue general operating funds, but portions of the text can form the basis of a project proposal, as well (I’m also a big fan of recycling content whenever you can!).
  • Start making plans to create a general operating support proposal. Schedule it in your calendar – set aside the time. It may be tough to make the time for it in the short term, but it will pay huge dividends in the long term. Get some tips from me HERE.
  • Take a look at your organization’s overall fundraising picture. If you approached this grant proposal opportunity with a sense of desperation… ask yourself why. Are there other areas of your fundraising operations that you should build up, so you are not so desperate for those new grants to come in? If current foundation donors are not renewing their grants, why not? Are one-time individual donors being converted to repeat donors?
  • If you didn’t have all of the ancillary materials and information you needed to complete the proposal (like budgets or board lists), start establishing a file for those items now, so you can grab them at a moment’s notice and update them periodically.
  • Look at how your organization makes plans for its programs and operations. Are you planning programs that you don’t actually have the bandwidth to carry out? Determine if you need to narrow your focus or temporarily pull back on activities.

Being grant proposal ready is a sign of organizational health. If your organization needs a check-up, use this opportunity to get healthier so you can pursue future opportunities with vigor!

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