Updated: Jan 27, 2022
Unfortunately being denied grant funding is a reality of the nonprofit world. While being rejected happens for many reasons, not all due to the actual proposal, there are a few common proposal mistakes that have fairly simple fixes.
Read on to discover what those mistakes are and how to remedy them.
Lack of Research
Every strong effort to receive funding for your organization should begin with research. Most grantmakers have specific areas of interest or are searching for projects that fit certain criteria. These areas of interest can range from the basic, such as health care or animal welfare, to the very specific, such as supporting girls in learning STEM disciplines, or funding only capital improvements. The best way to find grantmakers that align with your organization and project is to devote some time to research. The Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is the largest database of foundations across the nation and a great place to begin your research. While it is a subscription-based service, your local library might offer free access.
Once you discover a grantmaker might be a good fit, take a look at the organizations and projects that they usually fund and at what amount. This info can be found by reviewing their most recent IRS Form 990, an informational tax form that most tax-exempt organizations must file annually. This form gives the IRS an overview of the organization's activities, governance, and detailed financial information. You may also find additional information on the grantmakers website or in media stories.
As a final step to your research, reach out to the grantmaker by phone. Use this contact as an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about your upcoming application and ensure that their priorities and grant cycles have remained the same despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Project is Duplicating an Existing Effort.
Have you researched your project carefully? Is it filling a specific need? Are there any other organizations in your area with similar projects or programs in the works or up and running? If so, what sets yours apart?
Most grantmakers look to diversify their own portfolio and will want to know how your work is different or how it stands to improve your community outside of current efforts that are being put forth by your organization and others. If there are similar projects or programs in other communities, spend some time researching what their success rates have been and what changes you might instill to increase the success they have had or fill the gap in services still left.
Additionally, research any similar programs in the nation to gauge their results. Use their data to support the need for your project or use it to illustrate how your innovations could increase the success rate. Be sure that you supply verifiable data on your application. This data should support the gap that exists as well as projections of how your project will make an impact.
The Application Questions were not Thoroughly Answered
We recommend reading through each application question and taking some time to collect any data that you need before beginning to write. The gathered data should support and clearly show the need for the project. Statistics and research from outside sources can help to validate the need for your project and support your proposal.
You will want to write your application in the mindset that the reader may not have any knowledge of your nonprofit’s area of expertise. Beware of using acronyms and when it is necessary to do so, be sure that you define them for the reader. Additionally, you will want to provide details throughout your application that support how your project will make a difference and why your organization is the best to carry it to fruition.
We recommend reaching out for help from outside of your organization for a proofread. An outsider should be able to read your proposal and clearly explain your project, the need for the project, how you will implement it, and the impact that it will make. If a reader is unable to do so, you might need to clarify your points or add additional data.
The Application Submission Guidelines were not Followed
It is a terrible feeling to know that much-needed funding was not granted because they ask for two copies of an application and you only sent one. Failure to follow submission guidelines is said by funders to be the number one reason for rejection. Small oversights are easily remedied by having someone on your team take a second look at your proposal and the requirements of the submission. Consider establishing who your second set of eyes will be early on and share your work with them consistently. Both of you should take care in reading the application requirements and the submission guidelines to ensure that you have everything that you need and are not missing items.
Most applications require support documents and you will want to make sure that you meet those requirements completely, but without any extra documents that have not been requested. If your organization is lacking documents that are requested, you may not be ready to apply yet. Be prepared to submit financials including your budget and last audit, if those are not accessible then you likely need to wait to apply.
Gathering the Data Needed and Writing a Winning Grant Takes Time and Effort.
We have both and would love to partner with your organization.
Jelly Nonprofit Consulting provides fully customizable grant writing services and we are happy to help at any point during your project from research to proofreading.
Email us today for your free consultation – email@example.com
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