If you are new to the grant writing field or if you work in another field and are called upon to assist in the development of a grant proposal, there are some things you need to know before you begin. Knowing these four things will help facilitate the whole grant proposal process. Before you ever turn on the computer, here are some of the things you should know and be able to address.
This is the opportunity for you to become fully aware of the capacity of your organization and just what you have to offer. You should know the mission and vision of the organization and be fully able to discuss the programs and services provided. You should have access to copies of all important documents. These documents include the organizational tax exemption letter from the IRS, your Dunn and Bradstreet Number, your tax id number, the article of incorporation, the organizational chart, the bylaws, the policy and procedure manual and any other document that illustrates the impact of the services you provide. It is best to have digital copies of these as many of these will have to be attached to each grant proposal you submit.
You will need to understand the structure of the organization and where the programs you are seeking funding fall within that structure. You should be able to address staff and responsibilities and be able to identify any gaps in capacity.
Above all else, you will need to be able to articulate the needs within your community and your ability to address and meet those needs. Many new grant writers confuse the need for dollars with the need for your programs. When a funder asks you to describe your needs, your answer must include statistics that represent the community problem you are solving. That might include poverty statistics, income guidelines and area median income, unemployment rates, children living below the poverty level, high school drop out rates, children receiving free or reduced lunches. Information like this is what illustrates to the funder that there is an issue in your community that needs addressing. If you cannot describe and define your need, you will never be able to reach potential funders.
If you can accurately address the constraints of your community then you can relate your plans to solve those problems. That is a separate section in most applications and is often called program approach, services to the community or something similar. That is your way to address and solve those needs you have demonstrated. Find your data and check your sources. Be prepared to share both in an effort to prove that you have the pulse of your community.
The majority of funders these days are looking to see if you can leverage the award money they may give you. This is frequently called a match and some grants require a one to one match.This means for every dollar you ask for you must be able to show another dollar from another source. what is DNS . With respect to the federal government, if there is a match requirement, your match must be from non federal sources.
What this means for you is that you have to have partners or other funders. More and more funding sources are looking for organizations who are working with other providers to meet community needs at a grass roots level. With more sources dedicated to the solution to a problem the better the chances for the success of the program. Be able to identify your partners and, if possible, have signed partnership agreements in place.
You need to know what the program is going to cost. You need to know where that program budget fits into the overall agency budget. While some agencies may not want grant proposal writers to have access to certain delicate financial information, most will realize that in the age of transparency and as a IRS approved non profit, most of that information is public information. There are ways to work with your Executive Director to keep certain information private while still providing the funder with all the required information. Be able to fully explain all of your program expenses and be able to justify each of them in relation to funding guidelines.