When you launch a capital campaign and you’re faced with the work that goes into such an effort, it’s easy to dream that some billionaire or foundation will swoop in and award you a massive grant that will fully fund all of your projects and initiatives.
Unfortunately, that’s almost certainly not going to happen. Never say never, but you can’t rely on a guardian angel to save the day. You need to put in the work to establish your goals, recruit your volunteers and leaders, and figure out how much to ask and from whom – and then actually make those requests.
Grants can be a valuable component of your campaign. Grants from charitable foundations can supplement donations from your community and inspire your supporters to give more and give generously. Making a connection with a foundation also can provide opportunities down the road. Getting the most out of the grant writing process, though, requires a plan and the work to implement it.
Here are three ways to maximize your grant writing potential:
Research, research, research: Thorough foundation research is crucial to identifying foundations whose priorities align with your goals and objectives. Researching foundations and making a list of prospects to pursue can be difficult and time-consuming, but it is important to investigate a foundation’s mission, priorities and values because this knowledge can help you tailor your request and craft a grant application or proposal that really resonates.
Check for connections: Only a small fraction of grant applications find success, but you can increase your odds with personal connections. Ask your supporters, your volunteers and the rest of your community if they know anyone at the foundations on your prospects list. Also ask if they know of any foundations that should be added to your list. Consider calling local foundations and asking if you can give an in-person presentation about your campaign. This approach could give you a connection that could pay off for this campaign or sometime in the future.
Make complete and compelling requests: A strong and effective narrative lays out your needs, your plans and the benefits of your campaign. It should be clear and concise, yet make an impact and inspire emotion. This narrative will form the basis of your grant requests and applications. Make sure you submit complete applications – with all of the information, answers to questions and supporting documents requested – before any deadlines. Finally, include a thank you to the foundation for its time and effort in considering your request, and for the generous work the foundation does.
The Steier Group has an entire grant writing department committed to foundation research and submitting grant applications. We have raised millions of dollars for our clients from foundations identified during a planning study. Our grant writers have years of experience researching foundations, crafting grant narratives and submitting proposals and applications.