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Help Me Write a Better Grant Proposal

Grant proposals are big projects with lofty goals. Often, the ability of your project to start (or continue) will hinge upon the receipt of a grant. Before you get overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead of you, check out the four top tips for making your grant proposal stand out from the crowd:

1. Write an abstract/executive summary

A well-researched grant proposal is quite lengthy. To get your readers interested right away, include a one- or two-page abstract that highlights the key points of your proposal. You should incorporate the following items:
  1. A brief introduction to your organization
  2. A brief introduction to your project, including why you want to do it and what it will accomplish
  3. A very short overview of the funding you need, as well as the resources (financial and otherwise) your organization will contribute to the project

Remember that your project is likely in competition with a lot of other projects. You must differentiate yourself from their big pile of grant proposals in order to be noticed. A compelling executive summary is a great way to quickly show why your project is deserving of an organization's grant money.

2. Research, research, research!

Make no mistake: your readers will swiftly discard a poorly researched grant proposal. To have your proposal taken seriously, you must provide evidence for every detail. If you need money for a homeless shelter, include statistics about the number of homeless in your area, as well as how few beds there are by contrast. Facts make your grant proposal legitimate, so back up absolutely everything with well-researched details.

3. Show why your project deserves outside funding

To grab your readers' attention, you must answer the question: "Why should we give our money to you?" This answer contains two components: your project's value and why it desperately needs funding.

To show that your project is worthwhile, explain how it will make a positive difference or contribution to society. Highlight the current lack of a similar project and the suffering this lack is causing.

To show why your project needs funding, you must provide details about the financial struggle of your organization. You must also clearly lay out how much grant money you'll need and how you plan to spend every last dollar. People won't give you money if they aren't confident you'll use it wisely.

4. Show how you are investing in your project

A strong grant proposal does more than ask for funds; it also explains how you will share in some of your project's financial burden. Even if it is a small amount, be sure to explain your financial contribution to your project. Potential donors want to know that your project is worthwhile enough for you to add some of your own funds, instead of just asking for someone else's.

Also, include any non-monetary resources that you plan to contribute, such as labor and volunteer work. Your audience will recognize that contribution as valuable, even if it isn't dollars and cents.

Remember, if you are unwilling to invest some of your organization's time and money, it will turn potential donors off because it tells them that you aren't taking your own project seriously. Your audience needs to know that your project is worthwhile and well planned. Make it your number one priority to increase the chance that your grant donors will, too.



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