Does watching the feats of Olympic athletes inspire you to sharpen your own game?
In that spirit, here are three tactics that will help you to win in grantseeking.
See you in Sochi!
GOLD MEDAL – Communicate the urgency of the funding opportunity – not the urgency of your nonprofit’s need.
Here's the truth: funders don’t care about your nonprofit's problems. They won't be compelled by your need to find funding for staff hours to help meet payroll. They won't be energized by your need to fill a hole in your nonprofit's budget.
They will, however, respond to the idea that the time is exactly right to achieve something that your nonprofit is perfectly positioned to do.
Funders like it when you can make the case that this is the perfect, urgent time to, for example, enroll people in health insurance -- or to transform federal farm policy -- or to take advantage of historically low interest rates to purchase a building.
Explain why your organization is poised to capitalize on this unique moment of opportunity -- and why time is of the essence for the funder to help make something meaningful happen.
SILVER MEDAL – Present projects that fit into a larger program vision, rather than projects that are small, one-off efforts.
Funders are not compelled to give to disparate efforts that don't promise to achieve lasting results. Instead of creating "boutique" projects in hopes of meeting a funder's narrow guidelines or funding interests, it's ideal to present modular pieces of a comprehensive program.
Each program component can be packaged as a project, and you can explain how the proposed project will be part of a larger initiative with big impact.
The problem with the special (i.e., boutique) projects, by the way, is that they can be costly to administer and report on in proportion to the relatively small grant you're likely to get.
Consider taking the same approach in order to make grant requests for general operating support. More and more funders are giving grants for general operating costs -- and that's a very welcome development for nonprofits!
BRONZE MEDAL – Make the results of your project tangible and personal.
While funders aren't likely to be persuaded to give grants simply because your nonprofit needs the money, funders are likely to be very interested in the real impact of your work on people and communities.
As you draft your proposal, keep the “end user” in mind. How will real people -- individual clients or other beneficiaries of your program -- be changed by the grant?
It's often tempting to write about the individuals you'll serve in the proposal's needs statement. But it can be as effective, and even more effective, to include examples of their stories in the project outcome or evaluation section.