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10 Tips for Successful Grant Proposals


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Tired of spinning your wheels because you’re not sure what foundations are really looking for? Learn to “sell” your work to funders with a well-crafted grant proposal! We’ll focus on their interests and how best to tell them your story. This webinar is ideal for new grantwriters and features important reminders for the more seasoned among us.

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10 Tips for Successful Grant Proposals

  1. 1. 10 Tips for Successful Grant Proposals Dalya Massachi Use Twitter Hashtag #npweb Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
  2. 2. Helping ordinary people raise extraordinary amounts for nonprofits is all we do, and we love it. A Proud Sponsor of
  3. 3. Today’s Speaker Dalya Massachi Writing for Community Success Hosting: Sam Frank, Synthesis Partnership Assisting with chat questions: April Hunt, Nonprofit Webinars
  4. 4. 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESSUL GRANT PROPO$AL$Presenter: Dalya F. Massachi ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 4
  5. 5. Reprinted with permission from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 5
  6. 6. OUTLINEI. The life cycle of a grant proposalII. 2P2R Planning System: 4 easy stepsIII. Powerful writing techniquesIV. Spot the weaknessesV. Bonus handouts (follow-up) ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 6
  7. 7. 1. KNOW THE LIFE CYCLE OF A GRANT PROPOSAL (6-12 months) You research foundations You begin relationships You submit an LOI or proposal ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 7
  8. 8. Program Officer reviews your proposalYou answer any outstanding questions Program Officer advocates for you Board votes on your proposal You rejoice OR learn why you lost ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 8
  9. 9. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 9
  10. 10. 2. USE THE 2P2R SYSTEM1. Understand your “Good writing does Purposes. not come from fancy word processors or2. Define your expensive typewriters or special pencils or Priority info. hand-crafted quill pens. Good writing3. Know your comes from good Readers. thinking.” – Ann Loring4. Refine your messages. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 10
  11. 11. UNDERSTAND YOUR SPECIFIC WRITING PURPOSES. Inspire the funder with your unique ideas. Encourage the view of your organization as a solid investment. Explain your pressing issue. Show that you share goals and values. Instill trust in your ability to get the job done. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 11
  12. 12. YOUR UNIQUENESS:So powerful that it cuts through inertia,gets noticed, and gets people talking aboutyou. Under-served clients, location, etc. Outstanding credentials or experience Extensive collaborations Unusual point of view or approach ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 12
  13. 13. EXAMPLE: Beyond Breast CancerBeyond Breast Cancer is different fromother breast cancer organizations inthat we focus on quality of life. Weacknowledge the challenges andlimitations of living with breast cancer,and we believe that focusing onactivities that our clients are able toenjoy cultivates a higher quality of lifethan might otherwise be possible. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 13
  14. 14. ASK YOURSELF:1) What’s inspiring and intriguing about your organization or program?2) What is the unique value it adds to the community?3) What makes your org a good investment- NOW? ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 14
  15. 15. DEFINE YOURPRIORITY INFO Facts and figures Importance of the issue Results you envision Solution you propose Track record ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 15
  16. 16. ASK YOURSELF:What does your work mean for the community:personally, economically, spiritually, emotionally,socially, etc.?How does your work serve, excite, entertain, oreducate your community?“So what?” How does your work lead to somethingbetter for the community?“What’s in it for US?” ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 16
  17. 17. EXAMPLE: HOMELESS SHELTERPROGRAMS: You offer homeless families a soup kitchen, warm beds, restrooms, child care, long- term job and housing servicesBENEFITS: (the difference you make – so what?) Higher level of nutrition and stability Higher level of employment Fewer families living in cars or on streets Less desperation, often leading to crime, drug abuse, etc. The sense of being a community that cares for everyone Lower long-term financial cost to local area ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 17
  18. 18. KNOW YOUR READERS. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 18
  19. 19. PROGRAM OFFICERS:Foundation gatekeepersHave background, concern BUT may beunfamiliar with your particular slant/nicheAre time-pressedWant to be inspiredHave been around, frequently talk to othersAre people too, with hearts, minds, concerns ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 19
  20. 20. WHAT INFORMATION IS OF MOST INTEREST TO THEM?True match with your goals and prioritiesProgram is a high priority for youHigh chance of success: realistic, specific planClear, measurable impact on a vital community need-- NOW ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 20
  21. 21. Beneficiary involvement Strategic collaboration/role in the field Strong evaluation plan Replicable model Community support ( and in-kind) Funded by other foundationsNote: Corporations are looking for how their investment will benefit them. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 21
  22. 22. HOW TO FIND OUT MORE? Read their publications, websites, grant guidelines. Research what they have previously supported. (Is there enough similarity with your project, yet uniqueness in your specific approach?) Call or email to clarify. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 22
  23. 23. REFINE YOUR MESSAGES.Match your READERS’ interests with your writing PRIORITIES. (This takes time!) ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 23
  24. 24. POWERFULWRITING TECHNIQUES ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 24
  25. 25. 3. FOCUS ON CLARITY“The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men [and women] of good will.”— J Arthur Thomson You know all about your program, but your readers don’t. Explain everything! Avoid vagueness; talk specifics. Use examples, quotes. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 25
  26. 26. 4. TELL STORIESTalk about how people havebenefited: results they have seenand importance.What are some characteristics of greatstories? A beginning, middle and end Memorable characters Interesting setting (time and place) Compelling plot or conflict resolution ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 26
  27. 27. 5. TAKE CUES FROM THE FUNDER Remember to answer all of the funder’s questions with details. Use the funder’s language. Use headings and sub-headings with chunks accessible at a glance. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 27
  28. 28. 6. AVOID JARGON AND UNEXPLAINED ACRONYMS Does the term mean the same thing to them as it does to you? If you must use technical terms or acronyms, explain them the first time. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 28
  29. 29. Reprinted with permission from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 29
  30. 30. 7. SHOW, DON’T JUST TELL Convey striking details Use metaphors and analogies Show HOW your solution benefits folks Use word pictures: NOT “affordable housing and good nutrition” BUT “safe roof and 3 solid meals a day” Compare your topic to a more familiar one. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 30
  31. 31. EXAMPLEThe Frameworks Institute used stats from U.S.Dept. of Ed’s 2005 study, “Calories In, CaloriesOut: Food and Exercise in Public ElementarySchools,” and crafted this message:“Exercise is something that children needevery day. But half of all students attendschools that have reduced their phys ed classto just one or two days per week. Part-timefitness is no more effective than part-timereading or math instruction.” ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 31
  32. 32. 8. MAKE YOUR PROPOSALPLEASING TO THE EYE. Use: white space legible font numbering bullets charts simple graphics (maps, diagrams, etc.) ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 32
  33. 33. 9. CULTIVATE CONCISENESS:LESS IS MORE“I didnt have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” —Mark Twain Sentences: 14-20 words max. No freeloading words KISSS: Keep It Short, Simple, Skimmable Average LOI:1-3 pp.; full proposal: 7-10 pp. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 33
  34. 34. 10. PROOFREADCheck your documentfor grammar,punctuation, spelling,and other slip-ups.Always read your pieceout loud (even if it’sonly to yourself). Mostpeople hear words asthey read them, so yourwords should roll offthe tongue. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 34
  35. 35. LET IDEAS GERMINATE."The beautiful part of writing is that you dont have toget it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." —Robert Cormier Wait at least 24 hours before starting to revise. Try keeping a notepad & pen on your nightstand. This invites creative ideas to visit you. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 35
  36. 36. EXERCISE SPOT THE WEAKNESSES:Can you identify the problems in this piece? ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 36
  37. 37. EXERCISE (SPOT THE WEAKNESSES)Dear Program Officer:We are pleased to submit this brief Letter ofIntent to the Over-the-Top Foundation. Wepropose the “Get A Life Project,” which willhave a negligible effect on housing conditionsfor low-income women and will probably donothing to change their economic status. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 37
  38. 38. EXERCISE (SPOT THE WEAKNESSES)We don’t have an innovative bone in ourbodies, so we’re just doing the same oldproject that we’ve always done, and it’s notpart of any larger plan. In fact, we think thereare already many organizations doing thiswork in our town. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 38
  39. 39. EXERCISE (SPOT THE WEAKNESSES)Based on no community feedback orinvolvement, we believe that our Get A LifeProject will provide much-needed assistance.It’s not clear how we will do this work, but weare sure that we’ll come up with something.To be sure, we definitely will not beevaluating it. ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 39
  40. 40. EXERCISE (SPOT THE WEAKNESSES)Our project does not address any of yourpriority areas, but we know you will make anexception because of our good intentions. Wewill have to indefinitely rely on yourfoundation to sustain our work. Otherwisewill have to close.Sincerely,Wanda Grant ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 40
  41. 41. FINAL THOUGHT"Find a subject you care about and whichyou in your heart feel others should careabout. It is this genuine caring, not yourgames with language, which will be themost compelling and seductive element inyour style.”— Kurt Vonnegut ©2011 Dalya F Massachi 41
  42. 42. Your special discount: 2 BONUS HANDOUTS: 1) Proposal Checklist 2) Sample Cover Letter ~Both Available on the Same Website!~©2011 Dalya F Massachi 42
  43. 43. Find the listings for our current season of webinars and register at Chris Dumas 707-812-1234 Special Thanks To Our Sponsors