To Begin: There are many aspects of fundraising for nonprofits to consider, and grant writing should be only one of many streams of income for an organization’s fundraising plan to be successful. When you do start focusing on grant writing, it’s important to know exactly what you need and what your plans are for the year. Because the grant writing process can take time, you’ll want to get started early on so you can avoid missing deadlines and making trivial mistakes. Also remember that you’re going to need to have received IRS 501(c) 3 tax exemption status in order to be recognized by most foundations. 

Joanne Fritz, whom has 30 years of nonprofit experience with Girl Scouts of America and other
organizations, summed it up best below:

“Your organization should identify, on an annual basis, what your funding needs are for the near future.You will have all the programs and activities that you currently operate plus ideas for new programs or the expansion of existing ones. Each activity or program will have a funding source or group of sources, such as your current grants, annual fund, product sales, admission fees, etc. At this point you will identify those plans or projects that are likely to translate well into grant proposals, and start the process of developing them.”

Let’s get writing: Once you’ve established all of your goals and needs for the year, it’s time to write the grant! While you’re writing, be sure to do a few key things.

• Organize your presentation so that it is clear and easy to understand.
• Be concise and to the point. Avoid broad generalizations.
• Be specific. State exactly how much you want, and why.
• Don’t assume that the reader knows anywhere near as much about your organization as you do. This means you’ll have to explain everything, give examples, and avoid using complicated terminology or jargon.
• Be impassioned, reasonable, and creative.
• Show the reviewers what return will result from the funding they provide.
• Some organizations will provide you with a RFP (Request for Proposal), if they do so you should follow their specific guidelines.

Here’s the sections generally considered necessary in a good proposal. Additional in depth descriptions of
each section and what to include in them are available at both links below
http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/tutorials/shortcourse/index.html
http://nonprofit.about.com/od/foundationfundinggrants/tp/grantproposalhub.htm

Proposal Summary (also called the Management or Executive Summary)

This is the most important section of your proposal, because the reviewer will use it to determine whether the rest of the proposal is worth reading. Though it comes first in your presentation, you should prepare it last, to ensure that all essential points are included. Limit the summary to two or three paragraphs. In those paragraphs, outline the purpose, background, amount requested, and time limits. You’ll go into more detail about all of these later on in your application.

Needs Statement

• What is the problem to be solved or issue to be addressed with the grant money provided?
• How serious is the need for this program? Include any data you have compiled as the result of a
survey or investigation to demonstrate the severity or effects of the problem..
• Show the connection between your organization and the problem being addressed.
• Establish the geographic area affected (e.g. Knox County) and the target population (e.g. unwed
mothers). How large is the area? The population? To what extent will the program benefit them?
• Emphasize your organization’s experience and knowledge of the problem. Provide data on prior
successes.
• Is this a new activity? Has the field been researched to find similar programs?
• Has a similar program failed? Succeeded? What has been learned from previous programs?
• Is this request competing with other requests from the same organization? If so, what priorities
would the organization establish among these requests?
• Why is this project more deserving of aid than others competing for funds in the same field?
• What immediate and long-range results are expected? Will these results help other organizations?

Project Description (Includes goals/methods/objectives)

• List specific, reasonable, and achievable objectives that have measurable outcomes
• Explain how these objectives satisfy the requirements of the grant.
• It’s important to show what workers, materials and other resources will be used effectively to
accomplish the objectives.
• List the specific tasks that will be accomplished, by whom, and when.
• If there are other approaches you could use, explain why the one you’ve chosen is superior.
• Prove (perhaps by citing your performance on prior projects) that your organization is capable of
accomplishing these tasks.
• Provide a timetable with dates when major milestones will be accomplished.
• How many staff are needed? Will additional staff be required? How will the staff be
organized/supervised? What are the professional qualifications for doing the proposed work?

The Budget

• What is the problem to be solved or issue to be addressed with the grant money provided?
• How serious is the need for this program? Include any data you have compiled as the result of a
survey or investigation to demonstrate the severity or effects of the problem..
• Show the connection between your organization and the problem being addressed.
• Establish the geographic area affected (e.g. Knox County) and the target population (e.g. unwed
mothers). How large is the area? The population? To what extent will the program benefit them?
• Emphasize your organization’s experience and knowledge of the problem. Provide data on prior
successes.
• Is this a new activity? Has the field been researched to find similar programs?
• Has a similar program failed? Succeeded? What has been learned from previous programs?
• Is this request competing with other requests from the same organization? If so, what priorities
would the organization establish among these requests?
• Why is this project more deserving of aid than others competing for funds in the same field?
• What immediate and long-range results are expected? Will these results help other organizations?

Organizational Information

In this section, it’s important to build credibility for your organization, and stress the relationship, if any,
between you and the funding organization. Include:
• The Mission Statement and goals of your organization, as outlined in your Strategic Plan.
• Brief biographies of the members of your Board of Directors and key staff members.
• How long has your organization been in existence? What has been its performance to date?
• Include success stories about individual clients or statistics on clients successfully served.
• List previous foundation or grant-supported programs.
• What other organizations are active in the same or similar activities? What are the cooperating
organizations, if any?
• Does your nonprofit have its 503(c)(3)?

Always remember while you’re writing that someone will actually have to read this work, so you should
write with your audience in mind which means you need to make sure you’re accomplishing your target
foundation’s goals. After rereading it a few times, feel free to have a few other members and non-
members of your organization look it over for you (SCORE counselors will be happy to provide a third-
party opinion). Once everyone agrees that it’s ready, it’ll probably be ready for the foundation!

While you’re at it, have a couple of members of your board of directors, your executive director, or
someone from a third party write a letter of approval or endorsement to attach along with your proposal.

Extra credibility will always help.

Once you’ve finished at least a draft of your grant proposal you’ll want to start identifying
foundations/organization that provide grants compatible with your needs. There are many databases at
your disposal. We have a list to consider in our SCORE office and on our website here

http://www.scoreknox.org/Foundation_List_REV.pdf but there are also many extensive search engines
that you can utilize as well. A few of the most popular are listed below.
http://foundationcenter.org/
http://www.foundations.org/grantmakers.html
http://www.foundationdatabook.com/Pages/tn/tnlinks.html
http://nccs.urban.org/
http://www.bigdatabase.com/
http://www.grantstation.com/

When using these search engines it’s important for you to be focused and creative in finding foundations
that will identify with your purpose. When doing searches use descriptive terms that will open your
programs purpose to as many different aspects as possible. One example of this is SCORE’s mission “to
help entrepreneurs and small business owners”, not many foundations will be focusing on that
specifically, but by expounding that it will “revitalize the community, provide jobs, help people avoid
bankruptcy, and provide a way for retirees to volunteer”, you’re going to get a lot more interest. You
should also keep in mind that many foundations and corporations are only interested in their geographic
area.

Once you’ve got a list of foundations that have general interests similar to yours you’ll want to visit their
respective websites in order to pinpoint exactly how you can tailor your grant to them. You’ll also want to
find out if they’ve funded this type of grant for another foundation. By phone or in person (if they’re in
your geographic area), visit with the Foundation Director to determine their goals and mission of the
Foundation. They will usually guide you to submit a request or not to waste your time. Foundations will
sometimes tell you how much to request based on their interests and budget.

There are also many specific details that you will have to deal with for each foundation separately because
of their varying policies on their grant accepting process. I.e.: If they need a letter of inquiry, when their
deadlines are, or what format they accept proposals in.

For all of our Clients in the Greater Knoxville area.
The Lawson McGhee Library in Knoxville has installed on their computers three different software
packages to assist you in this regard:
• Foundation Center Search
• Foundation Grants to Individuals
• Grant Seeker’s Guide to Tennessee Lenders

There are two computers located on the left hand side of the Business Resource Center that have these
three software packages installed. All you need to do is double click on the symbol of the one you want to
use. As an example, when you click on the Foundation Center Search, several choices appear. If you click
on Search Basic Grantmaker, you have to fill in some blanks. Most of you would enter ATennessee@ in
the Grantmaker State. In the Fields of Interest you would use the index to select terms reflecting the
population or problem your nonprofit is addressing. For example, you can enter Aeconomicdevelopment@ and click on Search. The response is almost immediate. It indicates how many documents were found and lists them showing:
Number, Mark, Grantmaker Name, City, State and Total Giving To investigate further one of the
grantmakers you click on the line to highlight and then on View Record and you will then obtain the
following information (will vary somewhat by foundation):
• Name, Address, Telephone, Contact, E-mail and Fax
• Type of Grant Maker (Such as Public Charity)
• Background
• Purpose and Activities
• Program areas of interest
• Fields of Interest
• Geographic focus
• Types of support
• Limitations
• Publications
• Application Information
• Board Members
• Number of Staff
• Financial Data

For additional assistance you can make an appointment to have an individual orientation on using the
Foundation Center Search database; inquire at the Business Reference Desk or call (865) 215-8722. Note
that it does cost 25 cents per page of printing this information at the library.

Networking and Follow Up

Now that you have a sound list of whom you’ll be contacting about your grants, let’s go over a few
strategies to maximize your grant writing efforts.
When you send your grant to an organization to consider, you’re sending it to real people. Just as you
wrote the grant with the intent of being personable, you need to seek to deal with them in a personable
way. For starters make sure you’re connecting with the appropriate people, anyone who has a say in
whether or not your grant will make it through the process should be on your contact list. This can include
board members, the chief executive, and even the secretary. Networking is as important as it’s ever been,
be courteous and open to everyone you meet.

Post Submission

Once you’ve submitted your grant proposal one of two things will happen. If they rejected your proposal
it’s ok! Many proposals get rejected and people never even bother to ask why! If it’s rejected call and ask
why and for some constructive criticism, it might have been for a trivial reason that if mended could get
that proposal accepted the next time around.
If your proposal does get accepted be sure to follow up appropriately. A prompt phone call followed up
by a hand written letter can leave the donor feeling satisfied with their choice, and might increase your
chance of having them donate again in the future.

 

Source: Martin Leamon, SCORE Small Business Intern, August 2012
The material in this publication is based on work supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration under cooperative agreement SBAHG-04-S-0001. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Copyright 1990. SBA retains an irrevocable, worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, unlimited license to use this copyrighted material.Grant Writing for Non Profits To Begin: There are many aspects of fundraising for nonprofits to consider, and grant writing should be only one of many streams of income for an organization’s fundraising plan to be successful. When you do start focusing on grant writing, it’s important to know exactly what you need and what your plans are for the year. Because the grant writing process can take time, you’ll want to get started early on so you can avoid missing deadlines and making trivial mistakes. Also remember that you’re going to need to have received IRS 501(c) 3 tax exemption status in order to be recognized by most foundations.