Last week, I shared with you some top tips on grantwriting offered by a few of our webinar instructors. This week, I’d like to express my own thoughts and ideas about how to secure grant awards in 2017.
I believe an important key for all grantseekers is to understand an emerging, but critical, new attitude being exhibited by foundation leaders throughout the U.S. You can learn more about these views by downloading this report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy: The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective. The leaders interviewed in this report are clearly looking to generate real impact via their investments. Knowing this, grantseekers need to adjust the overall focus of their requests, demonstrating the potential impact of the work being proposed.
So this is my first tip. Clearly demonstrate the potential impact of your proposed project. And to do this, you will want to use visuals along with your narrative. Charts and graphs can help the reviewer get a better grasp of the proposed impact of your project.
To help you get started thinking about how you can demonstrate real impact, you might want to check out the Independent Sector’s Charting Impact resources. Going through their process, which includes answering five questions, can be very helpful not only for writing grant requests, but also for understanding the impact your organization has already achieved.
My second tip dovetails with the first tip, and that is to demonstrate that there is a true need.
I like to say that when you are writing a proposal, there is a place for ‘art’ and there is a place for ‘science’. When you’re working on the statement of need, you must focus on the facts. Objectivity is critical, so you should be careful not to lace your statement of need with opinion words.
For example, you don’t want to say: “The graduation rate is reprehensible. Only 38% of the senior class graduated in 2017.” Yes, of course this is distressing, but you shouldn’t tell the reviewers what to think. Just state the fact: “Only 38% of the senior class graduated in 2017.” Then let the reviewers draw their own conclusions.
Presenting evidence, quoting data, and generally basing your statement of need in concise, understandable terms that reflect professional study will help you demonstrate the true need you plan to address. You want to show that the solution to the problem or issue you have presented is driven by the data itself.
Your overall goal here is to convince the grantmaker that the information you are presenting in your statement of need is both accurate and credible, and that the resulting program or project you are asking them to fund is the best way to address this need.
I also wrote a blog post for TechSoup this month where I talk about some of the larger, overarching themes we should all be aware of as we develop and submit grant requests in 2017.