Your grant proposal package was so perfect you actually thought about framing it. It was all in the exact order it needed to be according to the foundation’s particular guidelines. You didn’t staple or bind when the guidelines said not to do that. Everything was signed, sealed and delivered before the deadline.
Then the dreaded letter arrived: “We regret to inform you that the trustees decided not to fund your proposal. This is not a reflection on the work that you do…” Ugh.
You rush to the file to try and figure out what your grant writer did wrong. Was there a typo? Was the wrong format used? Was there a missing attachment?
The fact is, while a poorly written grant sent to the wrong foundation can keep you from getting a grant, being declined for a grant has a lot more to do with your organization than does your proposal.
Organizations get grants, not your proposals. Your organization should meet important standards such as having:
- a board of directors that actually meets regularly
- no funding deficits
- sound financial management and financial statements that could or do pass an audit
- strong, structured leadership
- board members who make cash donations to the organization
- low operating costs
- strong, meaningful programs that can be articulated with goals and objectives
- strong evaluation of the programs and constituent participation
- well conceived budgets
- staff and board who represent the diversity of the community
- a mission that is not duplicating that of another organization to serve basically the same need in the same place
- collaborative relationships
- an excellent reputation in the community
- few signs of a poorly run organization such as high staff turnover
- diverse funding sources
Sometimes, organizations that are holding on to too much cash in reserves can also have problems getting grants, if they do not have a written plan outlining the use of those funds.
If your organization is under par in the areas above, it is time for you to develop a strategic plan to strengthen your organization and set the organization on the path to being able to apply for and receive grants. Showing your potential funders that you know where your organization needs improvement goes a long way to strengthening your grant proposals.
CommUlinks provides grant writing and consulting services that can help organizations become stronger. Contact us for details.