Grant writing is an art. While conveying your program effectively is of the utmost importance, it is equally important to speak to your intended audience. For the sake of simplicity, in this post we will focus on the needs of foundations.
Grant Writing and the Values of a Foundation
When researching funding prospects, it is critical to listen for the voice of the foundation. This requires paying close attention to the language used that outlines specific values. Sometimes this requires reading between the lines.
Some foundations will place an emphasis on innovation. Others on partnership. Perhaps transparency will be indicated as a prerequisite for funding. Whatever values are identified, make sure to address them in specif, yet authentic ways.
I recommend reading through the foundation information and formulating a list of primary and secondary values. The primary values will be highlighted, perhaps repeatedly. Secondary values may only get a passing mention, or appear only as a slight modification of an idea.
Once identified, the question becomes how to take your boilerplate content and adjust it to speak directly to the values of the foundation. This is not to forgo your own values. Instead, the goal it to approach the foundation in a manner that will stress the alignment between your organizations.
The devil is in the details
Every grant opportunity has its unique criteria. This can be the amount of words allowed per section or the way budgets are submitted. The point is to pay close attention to the specifics. Make sure your program narrative is not truncated in an online portal. Make sure to provide PDF files if that is what is requested.
Most important is to focus on the specific content criteria required for funding and make sure they are all addressed. Some opportunities will address these explicitly, as in this example:
“Successful grant applications will meet the following criteria:
UP Grant Criteria
- Clear alignment with a cause area and its related objective(s).
- Demonstrated need for the program or project;
- Demonstrated capacity of the organization to deliver quality programming and meet established goals;
- Potential for positive social benefit across broad and diverse populations;
- Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), within the grantee organization and/or its programs.”
While the above criteria have values embedded within them, this example is fascinating because it shows how requests can be made for information that your organization may not have written about previously.
In closing, demonstrating that you understand the ethos of the foundation, and that you have spent care and attention crafting your proposal, will place your organization in the best light with any potential funder.