Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

Just Write The Grant

January 16th, 2014 by Karen Climer

Once I had a client who asked me to write a grant proposal to subsidize the cost of care for their clients.  I asked my client, “If they gave us $10,000, would we use that money to support existing clients or to subsidize new clients?”  Fairly simple question, I thought.  I wasn’t asking for an extreme level of detail or future planning.

I received an email response to my question that said, “Just write the grant for $10,000.”

It took all the self-control I had not to respond with, “Oh sure.  Let’s just ask for $10,000 because we do good work here.  They will happily give it us because we are probably the only organization on the planet that is submitting a proposal.  Besides, foundations are like ATMs, so we just have to type in our amount, and the cash will come out.  No need to explain what we are going to use it for.”

Securing money from foundations has very little to do with writing the proposal.  It has far more to do with good planning.  Yes, the proposal is important in that it must be clear and complete.  You must follow the directions and include everything the foundation asks for.  The proposal must be reasonably well-written.  But most foundations will tolerate mediocre prose before they will tolerate mediocre planning from mediocre organizations.  If your organization is flying by the seat of its pants, has no strategic plan, and is fraught with nepotism and conflicts of interest, and measures success in terms of a few feel good stories, there is a good chance you won’t get funding.  (No matter how compelling the prose is.)

In the end, a grant proposal is like a business plan and that plan needs to be stronger than, “Give us money and we will do good work with it.”  As obvious as that sounds, I am amazed at the number of organizations – large and small, start-ups and established –  that violate this.

Posted in Grant Writing

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