While individual giving makes up a large portion of funding for a nonprofit, grants can be instrumental in rounding out fundraising plans. All too often grant proposals are dismissed quickly after the foundation or corporation receives it. Poorly researched proposals and other glaring mistakes cause more harm than good. In this article, we’ll summarize seven common grant writing mistakes and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1 – Rushed Research
Learning about the granting organization is the most valuable part of the proposal writing process. Start by reviewing the last three years of grant winners. What do they have in common? How can you target your grant so that you have a better chance of receiving funds?
Mistake #2 – Tardy Applications
We know that work can get busy, but that is not an excuse for turning in your grant application late. Always be on time!
Mistake #3 – Too Much Content
It is important to provide proof of the excellent work your organization is doing. Pick and choose what you would like to present. Too much information overwhelms reviewers and makes you seem disorganized. Refine the enclosures to support the central message of your proposal.
Mistake #4 – Unclear Proposals
Vague language derails many proposals. Be specific about how you plan to use the grant funds and how it aligns with both your mission and that of the foundation providing the funds. Remember that a grant proposal is a plan of action, not an educational brochure or annual report. Explain the problem but then move on to clearly explain what you’ll be doing about it.
Mistake #5 – Numbers That Don’t Add Up
Create the budget and check it twice. Make sure that the numbers included is both realistic and accurate. The financials should support the logic that flows through the proposal. Err on the side of realism rather than optimism and have someone double check your figures.
Mistake #6 – Failure To Plan For The Follow Up Call
You get a call from the foundation, and your application is part at the top of the consideration list. Now they have specific questions about the programs outlined in your application. Don’t be caught off guard. Have a comprehensive plan ready to share with foundation directors when they call you.
Mistake #7 – Not Saying Thank You
Regardless whether you get the grant or not, it’s always appropriate to show appreciation. Thanking foundation directors and anyone else at the organization who helped you with the grant application is the right thing to do. A sincere thank you goes a long way towards making a positive impression for your organization.
Winning grants takes time and effort and can be stressful. With these tips, you’ve just stepped ahead of many others who aren’t taking the time to learn more about the grant application process.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.