What's in a grant?

That which we call a grant by any other name would smell as sweet...

Sorry, Shakespeare.

It can be a bit misleading to use the term "grant writing" when referring to proposals that you are preparing to submit to a foundation for funding consideration. After all, the writing is just one aspect of the grant prep.

First, you need alignment. Your organization must have goals and interests similar to what the foundation wants to fund. Otherwise, the most well-written proposal in the world won't reap any benefits for your group.

Second, you need a plan. What is your organization's business plan? What are the statistics on who you serve? How exactly would you use the grant if awarded? Why does your nonprofit matter? These are all elements you must have the answers to -- written out, not in your head -- before you apply for any grants.

Third, you need guidelines. And then you need to follow them to the letter. If a foundation requests a detailed budget in a certain format, you must oblige. If they want your past three annual reports, same deal. Follow any instructions on formatting, maximum number of pages, and whatever else they provide to guide you in preparing the proposal. A canned proposal won't cut it.

Only after all of these elements are in place can the good writing begin. Good writing -- clear, to-the-point writing -- is critical to any grant submission. But again, it means very little if your proposal lacks substance or doesn't adhere to the rules. 

So, go the distance and do your best to pull together details before you're faced with a deadline. And then follow all of the directions the foundation provides. 

Go on. Make Shakespeare proud!

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