Proposal writing basics


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  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs Welcome the audience. Introduce yourself. Reminder—sign-in, handouts, hold questions until the end, if possible, etc. This course focuses on proposal writing and related issues only, for general grantseeking process, take our Grantseeking Basics course. [If Proposal Budgeting Basics is scheduled afterwards, promote it here.] Our class today on preparing the proposal document is based in large measure on The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing , written by Jane Geever, now in its 5 th edition (just released).
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs Here’s an overview of what we will cover today. In the first part of our program, we’ll talk about some things that you need to think about before you sit down to write a proposal. Then, we’ll explore the proposal itself—how to organize it, how to write it, and how to package it for presentation And finally, we’ll take a brief look at communicating with donors, including following up on proposals.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs To begin our discussion today, I’d like to introduce you to the single most important concept articulated in the book, which is (pause) that the proposal does not stand alone. It is part of a process that includes planning, research, writing, and communicating with donors and potential donors. To put it another way – You can devote a lot of time—and possibly money as well—to producing a beautifully crafted proposal document, but if you’ve skipped one of the other steps, your proposal may not be successful. We’re going to explore each of these four elements in some detail. Let’s go to the next slide to begin.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs
  • Domestic - The majority of funding provided by private foundations (78%) is awarded to organizations within the U.S. for domestic purposes. International - The balance of funding (22%) is given for international purposes. These grants are split between organizations in the U.S. working on programs with an international focus (12%) and organizations that are based in other countries (10%) Foundations are an important source of international funding since individual donors, unlike private foundations, cannot receive a charitable deduction for gifts made to organizations outside the U.S. Although small compared to domestic giving , the share of funding for international purposes has risen more than two and a half times since the early 80s , showing substantial increased interest in the international community.
  • People often ask whether foundations have preferred funding areas, and whether these preferences change over time. This is an overview of what foundations gave nationally by subject in 2005. Foundations are active in every field and discipline, but among major subject categories, international affairs, development and peace, and the environment experienced the fastest growth in grant dollars between 2004-2005. Education accounted for the largest share of total funding, followed by health. (Total giving –from sample of 1,200 largest foundations-- $16.4 billion, a gain of 6.1% from 2004.) We publish books of statistical charts and analyses tracking the growth and trends of foundation giving, and these are available in our library if you’re interested. Much of this information is also available on our Web site under “Gain Knowledge”. (Note: Public affairs/society benefit includes civil rights and social action, community improvement and development, public affairs and philanthropy/voluntarism.)
  • Private foundations are regulated by the IRS and therefore have some restrictions in place when giving to NGOs. You will find that U.S. foundations fund international activities through different mechanisms: The majority of US foundations limit their grantmaking to organizations which have 501c3 status; therefore, many private foundations limit their support to US organizations with international programs . You can also establish a “friends of” group through which all money is designated to a specific NGO. In addition, private foundations may choose to give to US organizations which act as intermediaries, raising money and then distributing funds to foreign NGOs (i.e. Global Greengrants Fund, Global Fund for Women). NGOs can apply for IRS recognition even though they are not organized in the US-- many do not because of the legal and reporting requirements involved. Foundations CAN fund NGOs directly (without you being established in the US) through 2 legal channels established by the IRS: Equivalency determination--foundation determines that the NGO is the equivalent of a US charity--very labor-intensive because the NGO must provide all governing documents (i.e charter, articles of incorporation, bylaws, etc). Foundations are more likely to exercise EXPENDITURE RESPONSIBILITY, by which they set up monitoring systems to ensure that the money is going for charitable purposes (written agreements, all accounting transparent, etc.). May require that you be registered in your own country, if applicable. Private foundations are regulated by the IRS and therefore have some restrictions in place when giving to NGOs. You will find that U.S. foundations fund international activities through different mechanisms: The majority of US foundations limit their grantmaking to organizations which have 501c3 status; therefore, many private foundations limit their support to US organizations with international programs . You can also establish a “friends of” group through which all money is designated to a specific NGO. In addition, private foundations may choose to give to US organizations which act as intermediaries, raising money and then distributing funds to foreign NGOs (i.e. Global Greengrants Fund, Global Fund for Women). NGOs can apply for IRS recognition even though they are not organized in the US-- many do not because of the legal and reporting requirements involved. Foundations CAN fund NGOs directly (without you being established in the US) through 2 legal channels established by the IRS: (1) Equivalency determination If a grantmaker can establish that a foreign organization is the equivalent of a US public charity, it may make grants to that entity without penalty and may count those grants toward its annual minimum expenditure requirement. The grantmaker’s good faith determination may be made on the basis of an affidavit from the potential grantee or an opinion of legal counsel. Rev. Proc. 92-94 sets out a model affidavit form and suggests the types of documents that must be secured from the grantee, including: - The certificate of incorporation or declaration of trust establishing the organization; - Detailed descriptions of the purpose of the organization and its past and proposed activities - The governing statutory law and provision in the organizational document that describes how the organization’s assets will be distributed if it should cease to exist; - The governing statutory law or provision in the organizational documents that ensures (1) none of the assets or income of the organization will provide a private benefit to individuals, (2) any non-charitable activities or legislative lobbing are and will remain insubstantial, and (3) the organization will not participate or intervene directly or indirectly in a political campaign or public election on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office; and - Detailed financial records (excluding religious institutions, medical institutions, and educational organizations). Equivalence determinations are particularly useful when a grantmaker anticipates that it will have a long-term relationship with the organization or when the grant is for endowment or to purchase a capital asset. (2) Expenditure responsibility In many cases it will not be possible for a grantmaker to secure a grantee’s affidavit or an opinion of counsel that establishes a foreign organization as the equivalent of a US public charity. The organization may be unable to provide the required material or may not be an exclusively charitable organization. Nonetheless, by exercising expenditure responsibility, a private foundation or a donor advised fund may in many cases make its desired grant. Expenditure responsibility is a four- or five-step process-depending on the recipient organization type-that places responsibility on the grantmaker for ensuring that its funds are expended for charitable purposes by the grantee. Meeting the technical requirement of the Tax Code involves extensive legal work. The following outline suggests only the general requirements for a grantmaker that wants to provide expenditure responsibility grants: - Conduct a pre-grant inquiry that makes a reasonable determination that the intended grantee is capable of fulfilling the charitable purposes of the grant; - Execute a grant agreement that includes spending and reporting responsibilities and commits the grantee to spend the money only for the specified charitable purposes - Require one or more reports from the grantee detailing how the funds have been spent; - Provide notification of the existence of the expenditure responsibility grant, generally by reporting it on the applicability of this requirement to donor advised funds is not clear); and - Maintain grant funds in a separate account dedicated to one or more charitable purposes (necessary when the grantee is other than a private foundation).
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is, are you ready to seek support from foundations and corporations? Grantmakers don’t simply fund great proposals; they fund strong organizations. That means, among other things, that your organization has received tax exempt status under section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. It also means that you have a mission that matters, a track record of providing programs or services successfully, effective administrative support systems, and respected leaders. If you do not yet have 501(C)(3) status, you can explore the possibility of putting your program under the umbrella of an existing nonprofit that can accept and administer grant funds for you. Next, you’ll need to decide what kind of support you need—funding for general operations, funding for a project, or something else. It is often easier to secure funding for a specific project or program than for general operations. If you are not able to identify a particular project, you might try to determine whether there is a part of your work that can be separated out into a discrete project or program. Look for programs or services that are exciting, achievable, and measurable. Today we are going to focus on preparing a project proposal, though the process is often the same as for a proposal for general support. Finally, consider if you have enough time to go through the proposal review process. It can easily take six to nine months from the date your proposal is submitted to the date you receive a check. If you need funds are sooner than that, your best bet would be to seek support from the individuals in your community who are in a position to see and appreciate the good work you do.
  • In addition to defining the mission of your organization and achieving tax-exempt status you will also need to build credibility for your nonprofit organization by demonstrating certain basic characteristics of a successful nonprofit. These characteristics are what funders look for when evaluating organizations for support, and it’s important even for the older organizations in the room to understand the criteria. Does your organization meet a real need, and it is known in the community? Is the work of your organization essential to the community you serve, and do you accomplish your mission through high-quality, well-regarded programs? Does your organization have a track record--a history of service in your community? A grantmaker will also be concerned with how you are measuring your program’s results and success. Ultimately, why should a funder support your organization rather than one doing similar work? Many international funders are interested in grassroots, community participation in projects. If you are US-based, what kind of networks/contacts do you have in-country? Clearly stated program goals and objectives! Leadership A foundation will look at both your volunteer and staff leadership. Your board should be the “public face” of your organization and advocates for its mission. If they don’t seem interested in what you do, why should a funder be interested? How diverse is your board--geographically, ethnic/racial/nationality, etc. In addition, does the staff involved in the project for which you are requesting support have the credentials and experience to carry it out? Demonstrating solid expertise of senior staff and volunteers can help establish the credibility of newer organizations that lack a track record. Again, do you have indigenous representation? Does your organization have a strong infrastructure? Funders will want to be assured that the organization has strong leadership and management, and that its day-to-day operations are carried out efficiently. Solid operations and support systems must be in place so that you can deliver your programs and services effectively. It’s also very important that your organization be fiscally sound and can manage grant funds successfully. However international funders may be looking for NGOs WITHOUT access to other sources of funding.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs Now we turn our attention to researching potential funders. Foundation executives talk a lot about something called “the fit.” Your goal is to determine a fit, or a match, between your organization and each prospective funder. First, you’ll need to determine which foundations or corporations have previously provided support to organizations like yours, for projects or programs similar to the one for which you are seeking support. Your first task will be to look for a match between a foundation’s field of interest and your own. Your organization might be operating the best youth center in the state, but if you send a proposal to a foundation that was established for the purpose of supporting the arts, your proposal is not going to be successful. Similarly, your organization can be operating the best youth center in the state, but if you send a proposal to a foundation with a strong interest in youth, and that wants to fund youth services somewhere on the other side of the country, your proposal will also not be successful. You need to match not only what a foundation is interested in, but also where that foundation gives—which is often different from where the foundation is physically located. We use the term “geographic focus” to indicate where a funder gives. There’s another kind of match you can look for as well, and that is called “type of support.” Some foundations will provide general operating support, while others give only for projects, or for capital campaigns, or for technical assistance, or scholarships, etc. If you need funds to construct a building, you’ll need to make sure that the foundation you approach is one that does provide capital support. All of this matching may seem pretty daunting, but there’s an easy way to do it. I’ll show you how in the next slide.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs In our library you will find a variety of print and electronic resources for research on grantmakers and grants. The most popular resource is The Foundation Directory Online . You can use it free of charge in any of our libraries or cooperating collections, or you can purchase a subscription for use in your own office. The Foundation Directory Online enables you to search our database of over 96,000 (trainers check for the latest numbers) grantmakers, including foundations, corporations, and grantmaking public charities. You can also search our database of over 1.4 million grants (trainers check for the latest numbers) , or text-search across hundreds of thousands of foundation informational returns, known as 990PFs. When you use these databases, you will enter your organization’s criteria, such as your area of interest and your geographic focus. When you click on “search,” you will receive a list of potential funders that match your criteria, together with detailed information about each one. More information about these resources is available in all Foundation Center locations, as well as on our Web site. We also have several classes that will help you to build your research skills: Introduction to the Foundation Directory Online – free course Foundation Funding Research – fee-based course Introduction to Finding Funders – which is a free webinar When you have completed your research, you’re ready to write your proposal.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs In this section, we’re going to consider the proposal itself— what it should include, how to write it, and how to package it effectively for presentation. Who should write the proposal? Probably the person who’s most familiar with the project. It’s perfectly OK to have several people contributing content, but try to have one person do the writing, so it will have a uniform voice.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs Except in unusual circumstances, your proposal will be less than 10 pages long. Many foundations prefer even shorter proposals—closer to five pages. Here’s how it tends to break down. Begin with a title page. This is the place where you should list all of the essential information about your request, including the name and address of your organization, the name of the project (if it has one), the name of the foundation to which you’re submitting the proposal, the proposed grant period, and the amount you are requesting. You should also provide contact information, including a contact person’s name, mailing address, email address, phone number, and fax number. After that comes the table of contents. Very short proposals may not need one, but for proposals of average length, the foundation officers reading the proposal will appreciate a table of contents that will make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for in your document. Always provide an executive summary. Please note: the executive summary is just that—a summary, and not an introduction. It’s usually about a page long, and not more than two pages. Although the executive summary is the first part of your proposal, it is usually the last thing you write, because it incorporates pieces of your entire proposal. For that reason, we’ll be discussing it in more detail AFTER we’ve covered the rest of the proposal The proposal narrative begins with the statement of need. In this section, you’re going to state the problem you want to solve or the issue you plan to address. This usually takes about two pages. In the project description, you’ll describe how you plan to solve the problem or address the issue. This is the meat of the proposal, and the challenge is to cover the material in about three pages. At some point in the proposal, either before the needs statement or after the project description, it’s important to provide some information about your organization, particularly if it’s not well known. And then you wrap it all up with a brief conclusion. We’ll be examining each of these components in more detail shortly. In addition to a narrative, you’ll need to provide a budget. We’ll be exploring that shortly as well. Your proposal will also include appendices and supporting materials. These will provide additional information about your organization and project without making your proposal longer. Now let’s turn to the next slide to examine each of these components in more detail.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs The Needs Statement is the part of the proposal in which you tell the reader WHY you are submitting this proposal. What is the problem you would like to solve? What is the issue that you wish to address? Here you’ll need to describe both the issue and the group of people who are affected. Discuss whether the issue is currently being addressed, and if it is, how and by whom. It’s not enough simply to state the problem, however: you need to back it up with facts. If there are statistics establishing that the need exists, you can provide them here. You can also provide quotes from authorities in the field, or from an elected official or community leader who has commented on the need in a public forum. Keep it relevant and keep it local. And no matter how serious the problem is, don’t paint so grim a picture that the situation appears hopeless. If it were hopeless, a grant wouldn’t help. Now let’s take a look at our case study. If you’ll refer to the “Wisdom Exchange Project,” you’ll see that we have a hypothetical project in which retirees tutor elementary school students in reading. What’s the need for the project? “ Many students are reading below grade level.” “Senior citizens are in need of meaningful work opportunities .”
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs The project description will be the longest and most detailed section of your proposal. This is the section in which you will describe exactly how you plan to address the issue you raised in the needs statement. This section will usually begin with a statement of project goals and objectives. These are not the same thing. Different people use these terms differently, but for our purposes today, we’ll say that goals are broad, general statements of what you plan to accomplish. Objectives flow from the goals, and they are specific and measurable. Some people like to use the SMART acronym to describe objectives. As you see from the slide, objectives should be specific, measurable, accountable (as in, whose responsibility is it?), and results-oriented. And, they should be achievable within a defined time frame. If we go back to our Wisdom Exchange example, we can see that the project has two goals—first, to increase reading levels for the students, and second, to create meaningful, rewarding volunteer work opportunities for people who are retired. The project has three objectives—first, to recruit 20 students in grades 3 through 6 who are reading below grade level, second, to increase the reading levels of at least 75% of those students by one grade level in one year, and third, to recruit and train 20 seniors as tutors for one year. This example shows clearly the difference between goals and objectives. The objectives have numbers attached to them, so that they can be counted or measured in order to determine the extent to which they are being accomplished.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs Your project description also needs to include a description of the methods you will use to implement your project. The methods section usually includes answers to questions such as what, where, when, and how: WHAT is going to happen, where will it happen, and when. You may wish to include a timetable showing what will occur in the first quarter of the year, if it’s a year-long project, in the second quarter, and so on. If we look at Wisdom Exchange once again, we see that our methods will include engaging one retiree to tutor one student for two days a week for one year. The tutors will be trained volunteers from a place called the Madison Community Center, and the students will come from school number 27. Another important question is WHO, as in, who will do the work ? You’ll need to spell out your anticipated staffing needs, both paid and volunteer. In Wisdom Exchange, we’ll need to engage a project coordinator to manage the project. In addition, we’ll need a reading instructor on a consulting basis to provide training for the seniors and to serve as a resource person over the course of the program. When you write this section, be sure to emphasize any collaborative efforts you may have with other groups. Foundations like to see organizations working together, not duplicating one another’s activities. In our Wisdom Exchange proposal, we might indicate that the project will be guided by a steering committee composed of representatives of the school administration, parent body, and senior center. In addition, if you believe that your project is replicable and can be a model for others nonprofits, include that information as well. It may demonstrate that funding your organization will benefit others as well.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs These days, many if not most funders like to know before making a grant exactly how you plan to evaluate your project. Therefore, you’ll want to spell this out in the proposal narrative. There are many kinds of evaluation. The summative evaluation takes place at the end of the project, and determines how successfully it has been accomplished. The formative evaluation takes place during the project, so that you can determine how things are going and make adjustments as necessary. If we turn again to Wisdom Exchange, we’ll see that the outline proposes three different evaluation strategies. Our proposal might say that if the project is funded, we will administer pre-tests and post-tests to the students, to determine how well they were reading when the entered the program and when they completed it. We might say that we plan to maintain student folders with progressive work samples, in order to assess their progress. We might say that we will maintain records from the regular meetings with staff and volunteers, to find out what’s working and what’s not, to ensure that the successful teaching methods are institutionalized. And finally, we might say that we will administer a survey to the senior volunteers at the conclusion of the program, so that we can learn how satisfied they were with the experience. If you’ll turn to the next slide, you’ll see that there is one more factor to consider in writing the project description, and that is . . .
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs At some point in your proposal, you need to give the reader some information about your organization, particularly if it is not well known. You can do that here, toward the end of the proposal, or else at the beginning. It’s also possible to provide this information in the form of a fact sheet FOLLOWING the proposal, as an appendix. There’s considerable leeway here, so once again, you’ll need to use your judgment about what would be most appropriate for your organization. But wherever you decide to place it, this section needs to include information about your organization’s mission, history, and program activities. In a nonprofit, our bottom line is always mission, so the mission statement always comes first. When you write about your organization’s history and programs, bear in mind that most foundations will be looking for a track record of significant accomplishment. If your organization is so new that you don’t yet have much of a track record, you may have some difficulty in securing institutional funders. If that’s the case, you might want to shift your fundraising strategy, and spend your first year or two gathering support from individuals in your community who are in a position to see the good work you are doing. In this section, you’ll also want to assure the reader that your activities are led by staff members with the necessary knowledge and experience to carry them out successfully, and that your organization is governed by active, involved board members who are respected in the community and who are exercising appropriate oversight.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs We’ll talk about wrapping it up. The conclusion to your narrative doesn’t have to be long, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. A paragraph or two will do. Your goal here is to answer what I call the “so what” question. If this project is funded, how will life be better, and for whom? How many children will be able to read at grade level, and what is that likely to mean for their futures, and for the future of their community? That’s the end of the narrative. Let’s go back now to the executive summary.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs The executive summary is just that: it’s a summary. It is not an introduction. And in fact, it’s the most important part of the proposal, because the reader will read it first, and if it is not compelling, he or she may not read any further. A good summary will also be helpful to the program officer when the time comes to present your project to the foundation board for consideration. As I mentioned earlier, the executive summary will be the first part of your proposal, but it will probably be the last thing you write. Most people who write proposals find that it’s easier to write the full proposal first, and then extract the key information to put into the summary. What should it include? The short answer is, the very same elements as in the proposal. In fact, you might think of the summary as a mini-proposal, or a one-page version of your proposal, that includes a needs statement, a project description, an indication of the amount you’ll need, and some background information about your organization and its track record. (Problem - the issues (need) and the audience or target group, 1-2 paragraphs Solution - the goals, objectives and strategies, 1-2 paragraphs Funding - costs of project and amount requested, 1 paragraph Your Organization - 1 paragraph.) If the Executive Summary goes on top of your proposal, what goes on the bottom? Let’s turn to the next slide to find out.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs You’ll need to send a number of documents along with your proposal. One is a copy of your letter from the Internal Revenue Service certifying that your organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. The funder will also expect you to send financial documents, and may request specifically that you send your organization’s most recent audited financial statements. Audits are expensive, though, and many small organizations can’t afford audited financial statements. If you don’t have one, the funder will probably be satisfied with a copy of your organization’s most recent 990. That’s the informational return that nonprofits are required to file each year with the Internal Revenue Service. You should also include your organization’s current operating budget, in addition to your project budget, and a list of major foundation and corporate donors to your organization. The funder will want to see a list of your Board of Directors. Be sure to provide names along with professional affiliations. It’s also a good idea to supply brief biographical sketches of your key staff members, to point out once again that the people carrying out your project have sufficient knowledge and experience to ensure its success. What else should you enclose? That depends. If you have printed material, such as a brochure, you could enclose that. You could also provide a press clipping or two, or a letter of endorsement, or even a photograph of the program in action—whatever tells your story the best, without overloading the reader—so be selective. Videotapes and DVDs, though, are usually not welcome, as foundation executives find them too time-consuming. And if you want to offer additional information, you can do it in a cover letter. Let’s turn to the next slide to find out more.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs At the beginning of this session, I told you that the proposal doesn’t stand alone, and that it is part of a process that also includes communication with potential donors. By the time you send your proposal, you have already had a meeting or at least a telephone call with the person to whom you’re sending it. If that has happened, your cover letter will begin with a reference to that conversation. You might write something like this: “Thank you for taking time to speak with me last week about the Wisdom Exchange Project, which we believe has the potential to increase reading levels for children in our community. Thank you also for your willingness to receive a proposal, a copy of which is enclosed.” In the letter, you’ll want to explain why you are applying to this particular funder, being sure to underscore a connection between your project and the funder’s philanthropic interests. And don’t forget to specify the amount you are requesting. The funder needs to know that. At the end of the letter, be sure to request a meeting, if you haven’t had one already. And you should always offer to answer questions or provide any additional information that may be needed. Who signs the letter? In most cases it is the executive director, or other chief operating officer. It is usually not the development director. The proposal package goes together in three parts, like a sandwich. The cover letter is on the top, the proposal (which is the meat) is in the middle, and the appendices and supporting materials go on the bottom. When you assemble the package, don’t staple the pages. Instead, use binder clips. They come in all sizes, they allow pages to be removed easily for copying, and they’re are more reliable than paper clips. Rubber bands can also be useful. You don’t need to put the proposal in a binder; in fact, if you do use a binder, it will probably be discarded when it arrives at the offices. When you format the cover letter, proposal, and appendices, remember that clarity is paramount. Many foundations will only accept proposals in 12-point type, using a Times Roman or similar font. Leave one-inch margins and plenty of white space for easy readability.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs One of the mistakes beginners make is to write a single proposal and then send it to a dozen different foundations. It’s true that you may be able to use some of the same material in multiple proposals, but bear in mind that each foundation has its own application requirements. If you fail to send what is requested, in the requested format, your proposal may not even be considered. You can find out what each grantmaker’s requirements are by looking them up in any of the Foundation Center’s directories or databases. In some communities, the grantmakers have gotten together and prepared a common grant application form that will enable you to submit the same application to multiple funders. (REFER TO LOCAL EXAMPLE, IF APPLICABLE) If the foundation you’re approaching is one of them, we will give you that information in Foundation Center directories and databases. There are also some grantmakers that require applications on their own application forms, or using their own formats. If the funder you’re approaching is one of these, Foundation Center resources will give you that information as well, together with information about proposal deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you may have to wait for the next cycle, which could be in a month, in three months, six months, or even longer. The next question is, should you send the full proposal? You should—if that’s what the funder wants. You can use Foundation Center directories and databases to find out how each funder prefers to be approached. These days, most funders want to be approached initially by means of a letter of inquiry, also known as a letter of intent or a query letter. You will do best if you think of the letter of inquiry not as a letter, but as a mini-proposal, or as a two-page version of your proposal. That way, you’ll be sure to give the funder all of the information needed in order to determine whether to invite your organization to submit a full proposal. Other funders request that you call them before submitting a proposal, or that you simply send a full proposal right off the bat. What we are calling “initial contact,” or “initial approach,” is a critical part of the proposal process, and we explore that topic in our class “How to Approach a Foundation.” Now let’s turn to the next slide and talk about what happens after you submit your proposal.
  • The Foundation Center’s Training Programs If you’d like additional information on this topic, The Foundation Center can help you in a number of ways. Our library has many books and articles, including The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing . The Foundation Center also offers a variety of training opportunities, at all of our locations and on our Web site (including our full-day Proposal Writing Seminar and our e-course Proposal Writing: The Comprehensive Course ). And don’t forget to use our directories and databases to do your funding research. In the library you will also find The Foundation Center’s Guide to Winning Proposals , a two-volume set of sample proposals, letters of inquiry, and cover letters. You will also find sample documents on our Web site, in the FAQ section—frequently asked questions.
  • Proposal writing basics

    1. 1. Proposal Writing Basics
    2. 2. What You Will Learn Today <ul><li>Getting started </li></ul><ul><li>Preparing the proposal </li></ul><ul><li>Submitting the proposal </li></ul>
    3. 3. The Proposal is Part of the Process <ul><li>Planning </li></ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul>
    4. 4. Part 1 Getting Started <ul><li>Planning </li></ul><ul><li>Researching potential </li></ul>funders
    5. 5. International Grantmaking Source: The Foundation Center, Foundation Giving Trends, 2011 *Based on a sample of 1,384 larger foundations International-Overseas Recipients 9.3% Domestic Recipients 76.3% International- U.S.-Based Recipients 14.4% Domestic and International Grant Dollars
    6. 6. International Grantmaking Health 41.5% International Development, Relief 20.8% Environment 10.6% Subject Distribution of International Grant Dollars Social Sciences 2% Religion 2% Source: The Foundation Center, 2011 Public Affairs/Society Benefit 5.8% Education 5.4% Intl. Affairs 4.2% Arts 2.6% Human Rights 3.4%
    7. 7. Private Foundation Support of International Activities <ul><li>Make grants only to U.S. 501(c)(3)s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. organizations with international programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Friends of” organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regranting intermediaries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make grants directly to NGOs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NGOs can apply for status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Equivalency determination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expenditure responsibility </li></ul></ul>International Grantmaking
    8. 8. Getting Started <ul><li>Are you a credible nonprofit? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of support do you need? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have enough time? </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Official documentation in order </li></ul><ul><li>Sound fiscal management </li></ul><ul><li>Compelling mission </li></ul><ul><li>Effective programs and services </li></ul><ul><li>Strong leadership and governance </li></ul><ul><li>Partnerships and collaborations </li></ul><ul><li>Network of references </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Join formal associations of NGO organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Network with groups with international contacts (universities, businesses, media) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish an online profile </li></ul></ul>Building Credibility for International Organizations
    10. 10. Researching Potential Funders <ul><li>Establishing the match </li></ul><ul><li>What you do: “Field of Interest” </li></ul><ul><li>Where you do it: “Geographic Focus” </li></ul><ul><li>Type of Support </li></ul>
    11. 11. Researching Potential Funders , continued <ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Print directories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundation Directory Online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grantmaker web sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IRS information returns – 990 & 990-PF </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Part 2 Preparing the Proposal <ul><li>Proposal contents </li></ul><ul><li>Writing the narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Packaging the proposal </li></ul>
    13. 13. Proposal Contents <ul><li>Title page and table of contents </li></ul><ul><li>Executive summary – 1 page </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statement of need – 2 pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project description – 3 pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization information – 1 page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion – 2 paragraphs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul><ul><li>Appendices and supporting materials </li></ul>
    14. 14. Statement of Need <ul><li>Problem or issue to be addressed </li></ul><ul><li>Audience/community </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting facts and statistics </li></ul>
    15. 15. Project Description <ul><li>Goals </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>S (pecific) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>M (easurable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A (chievable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>R (ealistic) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>T (ime-bound) </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Project Description, continued <ul><li>Methods </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Replicability </li></ul>
    17. 17. Project Description, continued <ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Formative: analyzing the process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summative: measuring the outcome or product </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Organizational Information <ul><li>Mission and history </li></ul><ul><li>Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Board and staff </li></ul>
    19. 19. Conclusion <ul><li>Final appeal for your project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What you will accomplish </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why it’s important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who will benefit </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Executive Summary <ul><li>When to write it </li></ul><ul><li>What to include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statement of need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals and objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs of the project and amount requested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Background on your organization </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Appendices & Supporting Materials <ul><li>Financial documents </li></ul><ul><li>Board and staff </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting materials </li></ul>
    22. 22. Packaging the Proposal <ul><li>Cover letter </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal </li></ul><ul><li>Appendices and supporting materials </li></ul>
    23. 23. Variations <ul><li>Funder’s own application form? </li></ul><ul><li>Initial contact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telephone call? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Letter of inquiry? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full proposal? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Follow the funder’s guidelines! </li></ul>
    24. 24. Help from the Foundation Center <ul><li> </li></ul>
    25. 25. For More Information <ul><li>Resource list is available at </li></ul><ul><li> materials/free_training/ </li></ul>