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Grant Writing - Part II

April 2000
By: A. A. Baker

Even if you have never written a grant proposal before, don't be intimidated by the process.

The first step in successful grant writing is to research the foundation and determine its area of interest, the requirements for submitting a proposal, and the average size of the grants it awards. Next, survey the people in your own organization to see if someone already has a relationship with a board member or the director of the foundation. If a relationship is in place, proceed with the preparation of your grant proposal. If there is no prior relationship, try to establish one. There is no substitute for the advantage that comes with a personal relationship.

Introducing your organization

  1. Make an appointment to visit the foundation and meet with the director. Give the director a brief description of the mission and operation of your organization. Ask for guidelines for submitting a grant request.
  2. Invite the director of the foundation and the board members to visit your organization. Show them what your organization does and how it meets a vital need in the community.
  3. If you can't visit the foundation or get a representative to visit your center, introduce your organization at the beginning of your written proposal. 

Your proposal generally will include the following:

  • Foundation Application 
  • Cover Letter 
  • Grant Proposal 
  • Supporting Brochure(s) 
  • Executive Summary 

Foundation Application
Type it neatly. This reflects the quality of your organization. Provide everything that is requested. This may include a copy of your tax exemption, a list of your board members, and an audited copy of your financial statement.

Cover Letter
This should be one page. State who you are, what you do, the project to be funded, the dollar amount, your appreciation for their consideration of your project, and how they can reach you.

Grant Proposal
These are the key elements: the background of your organization, your mission and vision, your project, how it will impact those you serve, how you will measure success, the budget, how the project will be administered, and how you will report to the foundation your proper use of granted funds. Keep your proposal focused, simple, and direct. Most foundations receive many more proposals than they can fund. You want yours to be read, so keep it short and to the point.

Supporting Brochure(s)
Don't bury them in paper. One nice brochure that tells who you are is all that usually is needed.

Executive Summary
This is a one-page synopsis of the proposal. Often foundations will distribute copies of the proposal for all directors to read prior to a meeting. An Executive Summary is appreciated, especially if your proposal is more than two or three pages long.

Finally, your presentation should be clean and neat. It should be printed on quality paper. Have a knowledgeable person check the grammar and spelling. Mail the application and proposal in a nine-inch by twelve-inch white envelope.

Even if you have never written a grant proposal before, don't be intimidated by the process. Everyone who has ever written a successful grant application had to start with that first proposal. The right foundation will be sympathetic with your cause.

"If there is everything to gain by trying and nothing to lose, by all means try" (W. Clement Stone).

A. A. Baker is president of A. A. Baker Communications. He is a development consultant for Christian ministries. He may be contacted at his office: 2718-B Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29615. Phone: (864) 244-5711.

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