You’ve researched grant opportunities. You’ve read the guidelines. And you’ve chosen the funder that you think is best fit to make a grant for your program. Now, it’s time to write your proposal.

Here’s the important question: How are you going to make sure that your application stands out from other submissions?

Check out grant writing guru Rebecca Bennion’s four topics below where applicants MUST demonstrate spectacular depth, understanding, innovation and plain old common sense in order to put you and your nonprofit in the best position possible to receive a grant.

(1) The Need

Do your research and state why the need is so compelling. Is the need urgent? Are there long term consequences if the need is not answered? How many have you served or how many have been impacted by your services?

You must cite local statistics by extremely credible sources and that were published no more than three years ago while grant writing. How well you understand the need will show that you have an accurate handle on current issues. Remember that the funder is an expert on these same issues. It’s vital to be very astute in stating the need.

(2) The Program or Project

If you pass the “Need Test” with the funder, you now must pose something remarkably innovative to find the solution to the need.

The Board or committee reviewing the stack of proposals has read descriptions of projects that are fairly the same year after year. So, what are you going to propose that is a new angle on an old problem? Why is your solution likely to be more successful as opposed to the traditional treatment or approach? How authentic is your outreach to find the people/agencies you intend to serve? Does your project answer a multitude of needs?

(3) Evaluation Methodology

How will the efficacy of your program be measured? How are you going to measure the outcomes? Do you have benchmarks that demonstrate measurable progress at regular intervals? How frequently? What will you accomplish within the terms of the grant? Do you measure at the onset of the program and at the end to determine positive outcome. If not positive, why?

You simply cannot fake it.

You must step back and study evaluation techniques and apply the most effective combination of these that can be applied to determine progress. Everything must be measurable and justified by specific methods (the methods measure the specific outcomes you seek). Don’t even start writing unless you have this thoroughly perfected.

And whatever you do, don’t say you use satisfaction surveys.

(4) The Budget

Many times those reviewing the grant applications go straight to the budget to see if it is reasonable.

Do you have enough allocated for staff for what you are proposing? Facilities, supplies, travel, or promotion and outreach? A savvy reviewer can tell in three minutes if your budget is reasonable according to how many you are proposing to serve and what you propose to accomplish.

Whatever you do, make sure that each line item is accounted for and include items such as insurance, rent and overhead such as administrative help, utilities and other incidentals you must have to conduct the program. This is definitely allowable for a project budget. So many people leave these things out and only include them in the organizational budget.

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We have several grants available throughout the year to students, community members and nonprofit organizations in San Diego County. Click below to find out if you or your nonprofit qualify for a grant opportunity.

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