I’m currently on the last part of a Proposal Writing Boot Camp of the Foundation Center, courtesy of the Kota Project.
The main thing I have learned, in the jungle of foundation grant seeking, one needs to be a miracle-maker: A visionary of the field one’s organization works in, an apt copy writer, a strategic planner, a human resources expert, a PR and relationship maven, as well as a financial wizard.
In a perfect world, one’s venture has tens of experts doing this all pro bono. In the real world, start-ups need to educate themselves and get smart fast. The competition is fierce and the funders are merciless in detecting ‘hot air’ in one’s proposal.
Here are some ‘one-liner’ take-aways. They may seem self-evident to you, but were eureka moments for me:
Don’t mix up GOALS (broad), OBJECTIVES (concrete manifestation of the goals), METHODS (tools), and OUTCOMES (concrete, measurable results achieved with those tools).
YOUR WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM are probably the first window for your funders into the kind of work you do. Are they active, rich — are you discussing issues in your field? Are you talking about the specific project you are seeking funds for?
CULTIVATE funder relationships. Call to ask advise before submitting, thank and follow up; if funded, be meticulous with reporting requirements and in communicating if something changes… AND in sharing interesting news — about your project, your field. This is what funders say when they want you to be a PARTNER to them.