By Melanie L. Houston, President
Alabaster Box Media Group
I see you at your computer peering at the screen. Someone shared a potential grant proposal that looks like a good fit for your area of service. The mission of the grant funder and the purposes for which the money can be allocated is clear. As you wrap your hands around a steaming cup of coffee, you have visions for how the money will be put to good use. You imagine people being served and improved lives. Certainly, your non-profit deserves the money. You are ready to dive in and begin clicking away.
Too Far into the Weeds?
After discerning the areas of funding, there is a link to determine if your organization is qualified. From this point on, your responses and understanding of the funder’s goals are critical. An incorrect response will impede your quest for funding.
Not accustomed to grant processes, your eyes become blurry from sorting through the criteria and matching your needs to the funder’s goals. If you are an executive director who wears many hats, the application is eating into your day. Holding a cold cup of coffee, you surmise that this isn’t so easy after all. Maybe you need help.
How do you know if you need assistance?
Grant writing can be intimidating and the competition for funding is crowded. If you are a non-profit without a skilled grant writer or someone to guide you through the process, expect some degree of frustration. Your answers to the following questions can help you determine if you need assistance when writing your grant application.
Are you confident in your writing skills and ability to summarize technical information? Or, do you dread stringing more than three sentences together?
Can you succinctly describe your services and the population(s) you serve?
Do you have statistics or data to prove there is a need for your service?
Can you write a concise budget narrative describing how the money will be allocated?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, you are headed in the right direction. There are typically more questions that need to be answered in the grant application process, but this is a good start. Now, if you answered “no” to even one of these questions, it may be advisable to get some assistance from a professional grant writer.
Knowledge, skill, & documentation
Understanding and responding to a funder’s questions requires knowledge, skill, documentation, and often an evaluation of your program’s effectiveness. A good grant writer takes time to know the executive director and staff, the organization’s mission, and its products and services. This includes the history, the people served, financial capacity, and organizational accomplishments. Armed with this knowledge, a grant writer navigates the application mine fields and weaves a story that corresponds to the funder’s goals.
A grant writer’s goal
A grant writer’s goal is to help executive directors, development directors, and non-profit leaders obtain the important funding required to make an impact in the communities they serve. It is also to inform funders about the organization and the important work it performs.
If obtaining funding is important, perhaps you should consider contracting with a professional grant writer to assist your non-profit.
Melanie Houston has more than twenty years’ grant and proposal writing experience with non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her passion for serving and expertise has garnered more than $7 million in client awards. Her other hats include an award-winning author and Indie publisher and part-time jewelry designer.
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