When writing a grant proposal, it’s totally natural to focus only on you and your organization. That laser focus that you used to start your organization and that keeps it running is vital. But when it comes to addressing funding needs, that’s a bad thing. It’s all about the bigger picture, not just your organization at this point.
We need funding for this…
Our organization could do more but we need funding…
The economy has resulted in decreased donations so the program is failing…
Me, Me, ME….
If you approach funders with only you in mind, it won’t be long before your proposal becomes nothing more than recycled paper. No one wants to deal with a whiner. And we can talk doom & gloom all day but that’s not going to help convince anyone that you need funding. Yes, you need funding otherwise you wouldn’t be asking for it. But more importantly you need to realize you’re looking to build a relationship. Most of my professional experience is in the for-profit world, but many principles and practices translate into the non-profit sector as well, including how to sell your organization to a funder.
I’ve heard time and time again that the key to selling is being able to relate and that people don’t buy something – they purchase a solution. How necessary is the product or service FOR THE CLIENT? What problem does it solve FOR THE CLIENT? Funding for you means more money for your organization, but what does a funder get out of giving you a grant?
Case and point: How many people love the car buying experience? Not having the new car, but the actual process of getting a car? If your blood just boiled thinking about that, you’re not alone. Why? Because car salespeople are notorious for wanting to meet numbers and selling extras that you don’t need to raise their commissions. When someone starts talking about having kids to feed, a mortgage and need to live, we usually get turned off from a sale really quick. We all have obligations we need to meet, so telling me yours does not help me find out why I need this product or service.
So, why should it be any different for selling your organization or cause to a potential funder? Essentially that is what you’re doing when you submit a grant proposal. Part of the magic of grant writing is knowing how to talk to funders and convince them to fund a project or program. And although there is no “right way” to do it, there is one very wrong way to approach potential funders: whining. Instead of whining about what you need, answer why?
Why is the non-profit or program so valuable to the community? Use statistical data for this. Explain the current situation and need for what you offer.
Why is your organization needed in this world? There are a bunch of pet rescues in your area so what is different about yours? Do you focus on one breed? Do you offer behavioral training? What sets you apart? What’s your niche?
Why should the foundation fund you? This is where you get to brag about your organization or your cause. Don’t forget to relate your mission and purpose with the funder’s here.
When approaching a funder, always keep in mind that they are people too and no one likes a whiner. Are you getting ready to submit a grant proposal but need someone to review it to make sure that it’s WHY-ing and not whining? I can help you with that. Just visit my Contact Me page to get started.
Don’t Lose Hope,