Grant applications with multiple collaborators and supporters tend to fare better than solitary applications. Funders like agencies that leverage, rather than duplicate, existing resources. Funders also like groups that are aware enough to understand the local support ecosystem and can operate efficiently with others in their space. Furthermore, funders respond favorably knowing their dollars are stretched further by assistance from other partners.Strong partners will not only appeal to the funder, but they can also participate in developing the proposal. Often they can provide additional data to support need and potential impact. They’ll frequently review proposal drafts and provide useful suggestions and criticisms to strengthen the content.
Attracting another party to work with you has many of the same elements as attracting money from a funding organization. Typically, your contact will want an abstract of the proposal to present to his or her board for approval. Whether you provide such a document or work with them verbally, key points to make would be these:
- Motivate and Align. Show how the project serves their mission, and how involvement in the project furthers their goals.
- Clarify Benefits. Using numbers where possible, describe what benefits they could realize by working with you on the project. Receiving some of the funding is an obvious example, if the proposal approach supports that.
- Spell Out Commitments. Don’t hide any of the costs or obligations that the partner will incur. Make sure all those involved understand their roles, their activities, and the resources involved.
Insider Tip: A partner’s role in a proposal most often requires some negotiation and joint brainstorming. Since boards and executive directors tend to prefer simple choices laid out for them, find a contact in the partnering organization you can bounce ideas off of. Develop a strong working plan before writing up any agreements.
How to Present Partners in the Proposal
You needn’t present the entire details of a working arrangement in a proposal, but summarize the main points: their rationale for participating; their role and activities; and what they bring to the resulting project. You will also need to provide a description of the partner, especially their scope and impact. If, for example, you are operating a youth sports program and partnering with a local Boys & Girls Club, it’s helpful to mention how many boys and girls they already reach.
Most importantly, you need to communicate their commitment to the project. In a short letter of interest, you might insert a statement quoting their executive director or board chair. In a longer proposal, you might include a letter of commitment. In either case, demonstrate commitment, not just interest and support. Funders want material participants, not cheerleaders. In a future blog, I will say more about constructing letters of support and commitment.
When working with you on a proposal, we can also support your work with multiple partners on a proposal. You can contact us at no charge to discuss ways to involve partners, or any other aspect of the funding process.