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Grant Writing Campaigns

© 2014 Katherine Williams. All rights reserved.

Chicago, Illinois 60615 (773) 405-5916

Guidelines for Conducting a Grant Writing Campaign


The grant proposal is one of the most common ways that non-profit organizations solicit donations from foundations, corporations, and government entities.  


Although some charities receive a sizable amount of their revenue from grants, there is a large pool of charities competing for a limited amount of grant funding. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, in 2006 there were 904,313 public charities with 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States. This particular status is important because it allows donors – individuals, foundations, and corporations – to make tax-deductible contributions to non-profits.

 

Whereas there were over 900,000 public charities in 2006, Giving USA determined that foundations and corporations contributed $36.50 billion and $12.72 billion, respectively, in grants to charities in the same year. This is a significant amount, but given the number of charitable organizations competing for these funds, acquiring grants is a challenging task.


A well-structured grant writing campaign will help your organization be competitive.


To be competitive, non-profits must implement an organized grant writing campaign that is based on a sound organizational structure, healthy financial standing, solid program operations, and effective grant writing.  Listed below is information that will help you create a successful grant writing campaign.


Planning


It is important to create a plan that clearly defines how your organization will carry out its grant writing campaign. The plan should include the following components:



Research


Conducting thorough research and choosing funders whose missions most closely meet your organization’s mission and activities will save time and money, conserve human resources, and decrease the number of declines.  If you are wondering where to search for potential funders, the following web sites might help.



Calendar Creation


Once you have identified the most compatible funders, create a calendar or database that includes funders’ grant submission deadlines as well as other important information.  A calendar is one of the most important tools for managing your grant writing campaign on a long-term basis.


Proposal Development


Some organizations develop grant proposal templates that can be sent to different funders.  Since funders have different guidelines and may require different information, the template will not be appropriate for every funder.  It is, however, a good source to use because you will not have to start from scratch with each proposal or application. The following guidelines will help you write competitive proposals.


  1. Develop a persuasive grant proposal.



  1. Do not neglect the cover letter.



  1. Make the grant submission process as efficient as possible.



Relationship Building


It is ideal to create a strong connection with a funder before submitting a grant proposal to increase the likelihood that your proposal will be funded, but relationship building can take a very long time.  If you don’t have a well-established relationship with a funder, contact them to request a meeting.  Some funders will not be open to meeting with you. They may prefer to receive a letter of inquiry or an actual proposal.


Sometimes a decline to fund your proposal can open the door to building a relationship with the funder. So try to find out why your proposal was declined, how you can improve your chances of receiving a grant, and if it is worth it to resubmit your proposal in the future.


Approach the grant writing campaign with patience and determination.


For some charities, grant writing campaigns are on-going.  To be effective, long-term campaigns must be flexible enough to adapt to changing organizational, economic, and funding conditions. Gaining experience and knowledge about the process will help you build and maintain a strong and efficient grant writing campaign.

 


References


CD Publications. Grantseekers checklist.

Hans, Patricia. The foundation game: Unwritten rules. Nonprofit World 5, No. 2: 20.

Hart, Eloise. Writing a winning grant proposal.

National Center for Charitable Statistics. Frequently Asked Questions. http://nccs.urban.org/resources/faq.cfm#general (accessed on May 1, 2009).

National Center for Charitable Statistics. Quick facts about non-profits. http://nccs.urban.org/statistics/quickfacts.cfm (accessed May 1, 2009).


Copyright © 2009 Katherine Williams. All rights reserved.