Grant writing is often one of the most dreaded jobs for nonprofit staff, but a successful application can help an organization out with big projects like fully funding new initiatives or research, or small ones like helping to cover the cost of an event. As we increasingly lean toward online activism and fundraising, there are more opportunities than ever to use grants for updating your digital presence, whether it's a new website, a special social media campaign, or an annual report.
Writing a successful grant is a bit like applying for a job. Your application includes the basics about who you are and what you've done. The narrative is like the cover letter, where you get a chance to show your voice and passion and really explain why your organization is worthy of this specific grant.
We've pulled together 5 tips to remember when applying for grants to support your website project. Got any others? Add them in the comments section below or Tweet at us @creativesci.
1. Follow the rulesSure, it seems like common sense, but we gotta say it anyway. Read grant guidelines multiple times to get clarity on everything you need to provide in the application, and to understand the process, timelines, and what you would like to receive. Look for uber-specific requirements about including supporting documents and assets, how to package it, and questions to address. Miss this, and you could be done before you've even started.
2. Think holistic, but be specificYour narrative should clearly explain the theory of change your organization is addressing (i.e. homelessness, literacy, human rights), and explain some of your programming. But since you're trying to get funds for your website, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty about how your site supports your mission and goals. So if you need to add in features like petitions or you're building a micro-site for a holiday campaign, tie these projects back to your overall strategy and how they'll help support fundraising, marketing, or advocacy goals.
3. Set forth projections and goalsIf your website updates will increase your yearly online fundraising by 43%, explain that. If a special social engagement campaign will bring 150,000 new Facebook and Twitter users to your community, show that too. You should be able to point to qualitative outcomes in addition to just wanting a snazzier web presence.
4. Acknowledge similar projects previously fundedAnother great proof point is being able to point to other examples of projects supported by the funders. Find successful grant case studies if you can, or browse a list of grantees on their website and pull out 1-2 that match your proposal as much as possible to remind them of an earlier success.
5. Remember who you're talking toLike I said before, this is like applying to a job -- every application should be different. Be sure your narrative supports the funders' specific areas of focus and your answers to questions clearly illustrate why your project is the perfect grant opportunity. What about your work is unique in a way that makes the funder shine as well?