The non-profit sector must find alternate ways of raising funds for its operations. In particular, health and human services organizations rely heavily on private and public grant funding streams because they don’t generally profit from their service delivery. Grants provide non-profits with a dependable revenue stream, alleviating pressure on fundraising efforts.
However, hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations are vying for the same set of available grants. Requesting for the grant requires writing a grant proposal. Grant writing takes time, detailed preparation, and attention to detail. A single grant application can take days to prepare, but it’s well worth the investment when funding is approved.
Yet just a fraction of grant applications gets awarded. As the non-profit landscape becomes more saturated with competitors, writing compelling grant proposals is a top priority. No matter how important your goal is to the benefit of the community, with a well-written proposal, it is possible to secure the attention and hence funds of the grant source.
So how can non-profits create grant proposals that resonate with funders to secure dollars?
What to include in a Grant Proposal?
- Executive Summary: Some grant writers prepare this section last. The executive summary provides a brief overview of your non-profit’s proposal, including hurdles, goals, organizational strengths, and why your project will be impactful. Executive summaries are typically brief but provide sufficient detail to educate the funder’s review panel.
The summary is an overview of the proposal with information about the institution, its ability to complete the project, its need, methods to be used, and how those served will benefit. This is the first thing the reader sees, but it is usually written last.
- Organization’s Profile: Some federal requests for proposals will outline specific characteristics that funders want to review – such as profiles for project leaders or disclosure of the organization’s financial interests and potential conflicts. For the most part, the Non-profit Profile section describes the institution in terms of its location, demographics, mission, relationship to the service area, and past successes in the project area. It establishes credibility. If the funder requests, you should highlight relevant certifications, licenses, and insurance details.
- Needs Statement: The proposal must describe the problem you aim to address. Use data to describe the underlying problem you’re trying to solve, why it’s essential and needs to be fixed, and how previous approaches fell short. Finish this section with a brief explanation of how your organization’s proposal will exclusively address the problem. This section establishes a clear link between the funding source’s goals and priorities and how solving the problem achieves them.
- Goals and Objectives: Write your goals in a way that expresses widespread benefits and positive impact in your community. Then use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based) objectives to explain specific outcomes you want to achieve. Here you must Identify anticipated outcomes and benefits in measurable terms. How is the situation expected to change due to the grant program?
- Implementation plan: Determine how you will use the grant funding to achieve your goals. Will you hire more personnel and programming, build more infrastructure, or invest in new technology? Explain the project outline, key milestones, and detailed tasks you’ll complete achieving your objectives. The methodology describes the activities that directly support the achievement of the goals. A timeline may be included in this section as a description of staffing needs.
- Evaluation: Funders want to know that you will be held accountable and that you have a plan for evaluating success metrics. The Evaluation presents a plan for determining the project’s success at intervals and at the end of the project. You must List the milestones you expect to achieve and when and how you will measure progress throughout the project. You should also explain how grantors will receive updates on how funding is utilized and the reporting frequency.
- Project Budget: Detail all operational expenses, line by line, and explain why they’re essential to achieving your project goals. This includes salaries, travel costs, personnel, marketing, resources, and infrastructure – no matter how big or small. The budget describes how expenses not supported by the grant will be covered and how the project effort will continue after the grant ends.
Once completed, the grant proposal becomes your first communication with the funders in a possible series of discussions or negotiations on the terms of the grant. Grants go a long way in helping non-profits achieve their objectives.