Three Ways to Improve Your Foundation Grant Proposal

Stop!  Before you send that grant proposal out the door, is there any way you can improve your chances of getting funded?

Yes.  If you follow these three tips, you’ll improve your proposal exponentially:

1.  Eliminate jargon.  I worked with a foundation vice president who quite literally took a red pen to every proposal she reviewed, circling every instance of jargon.  Get rid of it.   Say it simply.  Say it from the heart.

2.  Have your best friend review your proposal.  Here’s a little trick I’ve been using for over 10 years.  When I’ve finished my first grant proposal for a client, before sending it to the client, I send it off to my best friend in Michigan.  She’s never worked for a nonprofit.  She doesn’t have any idea what the organization I’m working with does.  If she can read the proposal and fully understand the organization’s mission and work, I know I’m on the right path.

3. Remember the 12/12/12 rule and hook the reader with your narrative.  If the book Storytelling for Grantseekers isn’t on your bookshelf, I highly recommend it.  Imagine yourself in the shoes of a program officer.  It’s midnight and she’s been working for 12 hours straight, reviewing grant proposals.  Yours is the twelfth one in the stack.  How are you going to get her attention?  How are you get her to fall in love with your organization’s mission?  The key lies in the story you tell.




3 Responses to “Three Ways to Improve Your Foundation Grant Proposal”

  1. Tracy Moavero says:

    I find it hard to lose jargon when the proposal forms are often heavy on them! But still, that’s not a reason to rise above jargon. I’ve never thought about having a friend read my proposals, though I’ve raised imaginary funds from my “donor” sister many times. She’s a very generous test donor.

  2. Pamela Grow says:

    :) Simplest is often best, especially for that first grant proposal. How can you make what you do clearly understood? I’m not talking about the mechanics of what your organization does, but the IMPACT. That’s what you want to get across to your prospective funder.

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