Even if you are not funded, the process of putting together an ambitious proposal, including a budget and all the attachments, can pay off. A significant grant proposal forces planning and organization to happen quickly because you have a deadline and a list of requirements. Those general thoughts of “we should update our financials and our org chart” become “we need to do those things now.” If you have informal partnerships, grants can be a reason to formalize those relationships and get roles and obligations in writing.
Even when grant seeking is intimidating, the process can be a useful exercise to getting your ducks in a row and set you up for future grants.
Let’s look at the benefits of stretching your proposal-preparation wings.
- Solidify your partners and define your relationships.
- Gives you a timeline to convene your partners.
- Get specific commitments and timeframes for completion in writing.
- Get your organization and program documents in order and up-to-date.
- Think through the project or program details and put together a comprehensive budget, organizational chart, and staffing plan.
- Create useful visuals like a logic model, services flowchart, and other infographics. These are handy both in proposals and for general marketing when you need to explain your program and/or organization.
Thinking big and telling your story
- Practice telling your organization’s story and describing your program.
- Allows you to dream big—what would you do if you had more funding?
- Writing something longer and more ambitious gives you material to draw from for smaller proposals, making other grants less work down the road.
A bonus of going through this process—the more you write grants, the more practice you get thinking on a funder’s terms. Every funder speaks its own language, and your success rate will improve if you practice changing your writing voice to mirror it (while not compromising or changing your programming in order to chase funding). Look at the materials that are written by the funder, such as the website or the RFP, and use their jargon and phrasing, focus on their priorities, and look at what types of projects they have funded in the past and make sure your organization seems well positioned relative to these funded projects.
P.S. You might be more competitive than you think! We submit at least a few “longshot” proposals every year as part of our strategy to help nonprofits grow their capacity and community impact. Many of these have been awarded and launch productive new relationships with funders. Remember, you have a 0% chance of an award if you don’t apply; submitting something ensures that you’re at least in the running. You never truly know who is going to review your proposal; your organization and the work you do may just be kind project they are looking for!
Most nonprofits struggle with getting grants and they’re tired of chasing money. It shouldn’t be this hard. So we created a process that helps them find funding, get grants, and connect to a network. This gives their organizations the money they need to make our communities strong.