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What Grant Makers Are Asking When Reviewing Grant Proposals

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Often when we write a grant proposal, our mind fixates on "our" needs; but it's important that we focus on what the funder wants to read when they receive our grant requests. In this article, I’ll share some feedback that I received after surveying foundations when collecting research for one of my Grant Writing for Dummies editions.

Eavesdropping on Funders' Thoughts

"We want to be sure that what we are giving will truly make a difference and can be validated with outcomes. We are investing in a program seeking results to make a difference now and in the future so we need you to demonstrate that to us.”

“Is this truly a problem with hard data that substantiates it or is this the organization’s perception that this is a problem. Too many organizations are attempting to 'fix' problems where there may be no problem. If it is found to be truly a legitimate problem, will this grant affect the root cause of that problem or just put a Band-Aid over it?”

“Does the organization have the ability, knowledge and resources to truly make a difference? Do they have the resources to make a difference in the community or to address a problem in society? How is the leadership of the organization, and do they have a good strong active board?”

“Be willing to work with us. Let us into the process early before the actual proposal is written. Be sure you have done your homework and built a strong case for support that is documented. Then, when the actual proposal is sent in, we are aware of the project. By letting us in early, we may be able to match your organization up with another one that is doing the same thing.”

“How will you sustain the program once our funding ends? We can’t fund the same project year after year, so you will need to demonstrate to us that you need our funding to start the program or make it stronger.... [H]ow you will sustain it after our funding stops is crucial to us.”

“Be open and honest with us. If something isn’t working like you thought it would, tell us. We are all in this together and we want to work together to fix it.”

“Does the organization have the reputation, experience, and credibility in the particular area they are seeking funding for to make this happen? Lots of organizations have similar ideas but the money will go to the one that has proven it has and can do it.”

“Keep us in the loop even after you receive the funds. We don’t want to manage the grant, but we do want to hear success stories and know that we have made a difference.”

These are clearly words to remember before you approach any foundation funder with your grant ideas and grant proposal. Do any grant makers want to add to this discussion? Leave a comment below! Like what you've read? Subscribe to our blog:

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