Follow the Requests for Proposals to the letter. It is like an effective cover letter that moves a prospective employer to glance over your resume.
In academia we are familiar with Requests For Proposals (RFPs). Funding agencies for nonprofits also have RFPs. Who they fund and the projects they give priority to are clearly outlined. Describe how your project fits the agency’s guidelines. The problem you are trying to solve must be related to the goals of the funding agency; their goals must match your reasons for seeking funding.
As an example, The Foundation For Financial Planning http://www.foundation-finplan.org/grants-and-programs awards grants to nonprofits for pro bono financial advice and community outreach activities. The foundation’s mission is to help people take control of their financial lives by connecting the financial planning community with people in need. The under-served population is the target audience. A normal grant cycle is January 15 to April 30.
Needless to say, it is always best to meet the deadline. Avoid seeking extensions even when the option is available. Pay attention to details.
Going back to our example, it was emphasized that “Projects need to incorporate the involvement of financial planning professionals as community volunteers and in pro bono activity, or in partnership with local affiliates of financial planning associations.” No matter how well written your proposal is, if you do not enlist the right financial planning professionals, ones who care about the community, your proposal will not be as competitive. Make your proposal competitive by paying attention to details.
The Matter of Competence. Why are you the right person for what you are proposing? You do not have to be a grant writing expert to qualify. You can always hire someone to do the writing. However, only you can explain with conviction and passion why the project is important to you and your community. Similar to telling a prospective employer why you are a good fit for the job, convince the agency that you are the perfect partner for their course.
Project Sustainability. What life does the project have after grant funds are expended? Organizations or foundations do not want to support projects that have no plan B. Think sustainability at the start of the project. Do you have community support? Make that clear in your proposal. Show that the project is feasible. Give details about how the resources will be utilized after the project funding runs out.
What if you are not sure of something, anything? Speak to the funding agency directly before submission. Verify the contact information. If no name is listed, let social media work for you. One of your LinkedIn connections (2nd degree, even 3rd ) may know someone who works for the agency. Knowing who to contact by name may go a long way. (This approach also works when applying for jobs.)
About Christiana Davis, MD. See profile on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/christianadavis/
Services provided include, but not limited to, Career Coaching (Cover Letters, Resumes, CVs, Personal Statements, USMLE Practice Questions); Academic Writing; Grant Writing, Technical Writing (SOPs, eBooks, Blogs, Patient Recruiting Pages, Questionnaires); Developing Submission Documents (Modules 2.4, 2.6, 4, 5); Editing/Proofreading (CMC, CSR, Briefing Package, Investigational Brochure, Regulatory Questions, QT/QTc Study Waiver); Clinical Trials Support (Remote Recruiting, Enrolling, Data Collection, Literature Searches, Medical Records Review and Data Extraction).