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VOL. 126 | NO. 39 | Friday, February 25, 2011

Pearl and Mel Shaw

How to Get Started on Proposal Writing

Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Part one of a two-part series

Grants from foundations, corporations and government agencies provide many organizations and institutions with funding they need to provide services and advocate and create solutions for the many challenges communities face. Grants also support scholarships, arts and music, and research. But how do you get a grant?

Before you begin writing you need to be able to answer these important questions:

1.What type of funding are you seeking? Do you want a grant for a specific program, general operating support, equipment purchases, an advocacy campaign, or for a building (capital project)?

2.How much money do you need to raise in total? How much do you expect to raise from foundations? Corporations? Government sources? Individual donors?

3.Who will you be requesting funds from? Have you identified specific funding sources? If so, what are these and what are your expectations regarding how much they might be willing to give?

4.What types of written materials do you have that can help inform the proposal writing process?

Your answers will help you determine which funders you should write to, and how you will construct the budget that will accompany your request.

It is important to know how much money you need to raise before you begin submitting proposals. Remember, “As much as I can get” is not the right answer! Your financial request needs to be specific and realistic. What is the total amount required to accomplish your goal? Do you have a budget? If not, now is the time to create one. Identify the total amount of funds you will need for your project and then determine how much you will seek through proposals.

Once you know how much you want to raise through the proposal writing process, you need to identify which foundations/government agencies you will request funds from. You can begin your funding research by using The Foundation Center’s online resources (fconline.fdncenter.org/ ). Once you have identified a funder, visit their website to learn more about their specific requirements. If you are looking for federal government grant use Grants.gov (www.grants.gov). Remember most granting organizations are reluctant to fund 100 percent of a project – they want to see other funders (and individual donors) supporting your work. Be prepared to submit proposals to a variety of foundations and agencies.

Proposal writing begins with a review of written materials you have access to. The more materials available the easier the process can be. Review what is available to describe your organization, its purpose, history, and accomplishments as well as specific programs, expertise, needs, goals and successes.

Part two will cover how to create your proposal. Use this series with the free Saad & Shaw Proposal Writing Checklist available by calling 522-8727.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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