As we discussed in Part I and Part II of our blog series entitled “5 Overlooked Grant Basics,” reviewers want proposals with well-planned, specific projects backed by solid numerical data. But what else are grant funders really looking for? These additional tips can further help you look at your proposal through the eyes of the reviewer.
- Understand the reviewers’ circumstances
Grant reviewers often receive a stack of grants to read and evaluate in a short amount of time. By the second or third grant, the words begin to blur together. Make it easy for the reviewer to see the important points of your proposal by using headlines, bullet points, graphs, pull-out quotes, etc.
- Personalize the problem you intend to solve
Just like the description of a novel, your proposal should immediately grab the attention of the reviewer. The more personal the introduction, the more likely the reviewer is to give it extra attention. A powerful statement of need is more likely to be internalized than a description of your organization.
- Weak: “XYZ Food Pantry serving Hungry County has been in operation for over eight years.”
- Strong: “More than half of the children in our community go to bed hungry.”
- Include Both Data and Narrative Support
As covered fully in Part II of our “5 Overlooked Grant Basics,” blog series, you must describe the problem you intend to solve with hard data. But, because you don’t know if your reviewer will be left-brained or right-brained, you should include both narrative and data to appeal to all reviewers. The data should be as recent as possible, presented succinctly – preferably in an easy to read infographic—and should reinforce your narrative. Narratives should be specific, compelling, and as representative of wider demographics as possible. If there’s enough space, include a poignant quote or profile in a separate box.
- Long, flowery narratives are hard to read.
Make your key points clearly and move on. Corollary: use bullets for lists. In text, number items for ease of reading, and highlight key words or phrases in bold text.
- Create Well-Planned Budgets
The budget is an indication of how capably the organization will manage grant funds. The level of detail will demonstrate the planning the organization has invested in the program. Remember to include in-kind donations, sources of matching funds, a description of anticipated purchases, and the vendor for those purchases if available.
- Recognize the Funder
Indicate at least three ways in which you will acknowledge receipt of the grant funds. The first should be upon receipt, with formal acknowledgement and thanks for the award. The second should be regular and at key points of the project. For example, share press releases with funders, and make sure to invite them to special events. The third should be upon completion of the grant, with a final report even if not formally required. We talked about some of these points in a previous blog on Stewardship. We’ll cover the topic again in another blog in the next few months. It’s important for relationship building, which leads to repeat funding.