Did you know that the average foundation grant takes about 20 hours to complete, beginning to end? Government grant applications can take as much as three months to fully prepare and submit.
With all the work that goes into it, sometimes it might feel like the grant process is just not a good use of your time. But don’t give up so fast! Almost all the pieces of a grant proposal can be repurposed for other important parts of your work. Before you decide you just don’t have the time, check out this list of grant pieces and ways you can reuse them to invest in your non-profit’s long-term success.
Does writing a press release to announce your success make you cringe? Use this summary and you are halfway there! Dump that perfect new description of your work into your press release template and send it to a volunteer to finish with a quotation from you and the funder. If it is a new program and you didn’t get funded – pop this summary into your fundraising page for this project and drum up grassroots support!!
Organization Description and Background
Most grant applications ask for a combination mission statement and organization history. So often smaller nonprofits are growing and changing faster than their website. Cut and paste that fresh statement of your organization right onto the “About Us” page of your website. (And don’t forget to include a sidebar with a donation button!)
Problem Statement/Needs Assessment
Please do not let your needs assessment gather dust on a shelf! Take all the solid data points and make social media posts. Especially in a one-person shop, you might have an intern or volunteer who can help you make a meme (or ten!) to post online…with a donation button. Need help learning how to make social media posts? Here is a great resource.
Your program descriptions give grant reviewers a peek into all the amazing work you do. Use those fresh descriptions, updated with your highest aspirations for funding, to tell everyone else, too! You can add this material to your website’s Services/Programs section, your Facebook “About” section, and brochures. You can also use program descriptions to complete part of your GuideStar profile.
Program Goals and Objectives
What’s your why? Make a poster – and put it up where EVERYONE can see it. Remind yourself in real people language what this project will accomplish. If your goals do not lend themselves to splashy poster copy, consider one or two objectives that do.
Sometimes, we forget to tell staff what a difference they make…and specifically HOW they can make that difference. So, take those methods and timelines, and make it real for them. In the staff sign-in area, post a leaderboard that documents staff progress on the outcomes – and a timeline toward your celebration party when the goal is achieved. And involve your staff and volunteers in the problem solving when results are not matching expectations.
What does success look like? As mentioned above, you could make a few more social media posts out of your organizational success metrics. (Don’t forget to include your staff in the public displays of affection!)
You can also make a goal thermometer to show your partial success and increase the number of people cheering you on as the goal comes within reach. (Examples: tracking the number of books read in a literacy program, the number of families placed in new homes, the number of grades improved in a youth program, etc.)
Need a topic for discussion at your next board meeting? Discuss sustainability BEFORE you submit this grant. How ARE we going to pay for this project long-term? Why is it crucial to start the project now, and what partnerships can we bring to this project? Boards have serious responsibilities – and appreciate being asked serious questions about current and future projects. They can bring a fresh perspective and address unsolved problems.
After the grant is written and funded, document the move to sustainability. Make a graph showing your organization’s income streams that support this project, or even the organization as a whole. Update the graph quarterly to show how other income streams are adding extra support as the foundation funds dwindle. It will look great in your final report!
Sometimes, that project budget is a great developmental opportunity for your program staff. Allow staff to save you time by developing the project budget – and collaborate on any needed edits. Then, once the grant is approved, you are already on the same page and can provide guidance if programs run over budget. Struggling to quantify actual program costs and supplies needed? Work with your accountant or board treasurer. If needed, provide some financial education.
Letters of Support
Everyone needs to have testimonials on their brochures, website, newsletters, and social media. There is no such thing as too many feel-good stories! Include pictures, and make sure that you get permission in writing with the client prior to releasing the story online. For social media, don’t release a huge story – just take ONE sentence and put it with the picture as a caption – linked to the longer story. On your donation page.
Although many foundations have an online form or template, you can take information on successes achieved and metrics that matter and put them into a “Celebration” file for later use on social media, your website, or your e-newsletter. For less formulaic reports, share those results with your major donors or with corporate sponsors you want to impress. (Need help? Check out our top tips for grant reports.) It’s a great way to share an insider’s report with a donor BEFORE you report it in the next newsletter. Enclose a handwritten note with the grant report to a donor that says, “I wanted you to hear from me first because I am so excited that 70% of our families reported that we helped them nurture stronger attachments with their children!”
Need some help with a grant right away? We’ve got you covered. Contact Upstream Consulting and we will lower your stress level and help you win more grants!