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Don’t let fear of writing keep you from applying for top grant opportunities Grant writing is one of the most overwhelming, confusing, and time-consuming tasks you’ll be faced with—both in starting your nonprofit business, and in managing it long-term. In fact, most people who start a nonprofit organization have never learned how to write a winning nonprofit grant proposal. However, mastering the art of grant writing is critical for nonprofits—especially when securing grant funding may mean the life or death of your organization.
Getting grant funding is even more difficult given the fact that grant agencies receive literally thousands of applications for a single award. And all of them are for worthy causes. So how can you make your organization stand out in the stacks? It’s all a matter of what you say, and how you say it. First and foremost, winning grant proposals must be well-written. Your cause could be the most critical in the world, but if your grant is unorganized and ineffective the grantor won’t make it past the first paragraph.
In short, winning grants must be two things: Informative and engaging. That is, they must be clear, concise and tell a compelling story. Make sure your proposal is free of typos and grammatical errors. You may want to have someone other than the author do the copyediting. Or, you may want to hire a professional copyeditor, or a professional grant writer, for an extra competitive edge in securing grant funding.
Below are the main components of a grant proposal and some grant writing techniques that will be useful. Just remember: When writing each section of your grant, if you make sure it is informative and engaging, you’ll already be ahead of the curve! Letter of Inquiry, or Cover Letter. It is critical that your nonprofit grant proposal have a strong cover letter. The cover letter introduces your organization, its mission, and specifically states what you are asking for.
This includes the exact amount of your funding request. The cover letter should be concise, and include novel information. It should not be a regurgitation of what is in the proposal itself. The cover letter is your chance to let your funder know up front that you understand their agency’s goals, and that your grant fulfills their requirements. Tips for writing a cover letter: Address your cover letter to an individual—making sure they are the correct person.
Limit your cover letter to one page with three or four paragraphs. Include a statement of support for the project from your board of directors. Do not include a cover letter in federal or state grant applications, unless they specifically request one. Executive Summary. The executive summary is one of the most challenging parts of a grant proposal to write because it must be both comprehensive and concise.
You must immediately grab the reader’s attention and make them hungry for more—while providing an overview of what you are asking for, and why. Tips for writing an executive summary: Identify your organization. Include your mission statement. Emphasize the key points of your grant proposal. Clearly communicate the need for your program. State the cost of the project and the amount you are requesting.
State the time period for the project. State the results that are expected from your project. Statement of Need. In your statement of need, you must clearly articulate the need your grant proposal is addressing, and you must do it in a reader-friendly manner.The need statement, or problem statement, explains why the issue is important, and why your nonprofit is the right organization to provide a solution.
Include background research, such as historical data, as well as stories that illustrate the need your proposal addresses. Tips for writing a statement of need: Make sure your statement of need is well-written and reader-friendly. Use quantitative data: statistical analysis, trends and expert views that support your argument. Reference reputable research, literature and comparative data to support your argument.
Explain your time frame, and why securing funding is critical now. Goals and Objectives. In this section, capture the grant reviewer’s attention with powerful, persuasive language. State what your nonprofit hopes to achieve, including specific results and/or outcomes, using key words like: Increase, reduce, provide, protect, improve and others.Your goals will be broad statements, and may be abstract.
But it’s critical that your proposal’s objectives be concrete, precise and measurable. Objectives are explicit statements as to how you will work toward reaching your overarching goal. Tips for writing your proposal’s objectives: Use quantifiable terms. Identify who or what your objectives will serve. Make sure your objectives are measurable and realistic. Objectives should be consistent with your statement of need.
Methodology, or Program Design. The methods section of your grant proposal tells the reviewer how your nonprofit will accomplish its stated objectives. Your methods must be clear and concise, and leave no doubts in a reviewer’s mind. Write the methods section with the assumption the reader knows nothing about your nonprofit or your project. In addition to tying your program design to your objectives, this section should reference your statement of need and your budget.
All methods and activities must be feasible and logical. Tips for writing the methods section: Be explicit. Explain why the methods you’ve selected are the best to achieve your objectives. State the supplies, equipment, resources you will use for your project, including who will perform specific tasks. Include a timeline. Include who or what will benefit from your services. Evaluation.
The evaluation section is where many nonprofit grant proposals fall short. It is also one of the most important sections for grant reviewers. The evaluation section is where you explicitly state how you will measure your project’s results. Granting agencies want to know your accomplishments will be objectively measurable, and that there will be hard evidence that their dollars did some good. Clearly state what records you will keep and/or what data you will collect.
Data may be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination. Tips for writing the evaluation section: Make sure this section is consistent with your methods and objectives. State how the evaluation will measure whether you met your objectives. State how you will use the findings. Specify whether you will conduct an internal evaluation or hire outside help. Project Sustainability.
Grant agencies want their funds to both produce results and facilitate future results through project sustainability—either with or without their additional help. Indeed, if you’ve written a strong grant proposal so far, the reviewer will care deeply about seeing that your services continue over the long term. In the sustainability section, state your future plans for the project, after the grant money requested has been used.
In other words, tell the grantor how your organization will raise money to continue its programs in the future. Your future funding plan can include a mix of strategies and sources. Tips for writing the sustainability section: Outline specific future fundraising plans. Provide a blueprint of how you will effect these plans. Make sure your plans are realistic, given your resources.
Include information on hiring additional staff or freelance contractors, if necessary. Organizational Information. The organizational information section is where you provide detailed information about your nonprofit organization. This is also where you write to impress the reviewer.Spin a compelling narrative about the uniqueness of your nonprofit and include a brief summary of your statement of need.
Using persuasive dialogue, let funders know that your organization is the best qualified to carry out the projects you have outlined. Explain your nonprofit’s history and background, provide its mission statement, describe its programs, state the recipients of its services, and give its track record to date. Offer a compelling overview of your nonprofit’s role in the community, and its important accomplishments.
Tips for writing the organizational information section: Write as though the funder is hearing of your nonprofit for the first time. Give your nonprofit’s full, legal name and its legal status. Name your board members, staff and volunteers. State the location of your headquarters and any satellite sites. Include financial information, such as annual donations and budget. Budget.
Don’t be shy. It’s time to come right out and ask for the money. The budget section must be professionally done in order to create confidence in your organization and reassure grantors you are financially competent. In the budget section, tell the grant agency how much your project will cost, and provide an explanation of each expense. Include personal expenses, project expenses, and other administrative and overhead costs.
Also include any expected income—either earned or contributed. The more community support your nonprofit receives, the more encouraged reviewers will be. Also pay close attention to any supplemental materials requested by the granting agency, such as a tax-exemption letter from the IRS or financial statements. Tips for writing the budget section: Make sure all figures are 100% accurate.
Specify direct costs—the expenses for which the requested grant funding will be used. Direct costs include personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, and supplies. Specify all sources of income and contributions, including volunteer services calculated at “market value.” State all indirect costs and overhead associated with administrative expenses. If you want to learn more, many nonprofit outfits themselves offer some helpful grant tips and advice.
To see a great video on the process, check out MHZ Worldview, a nonprofit TV station. See how to watch MHZ Worldview online. Need more help? Hired Gun's professional grant writers are experienced and affordable. Contact us for more information on how Hired Gun can help make your grant stand out, and increase the chances your efforts will be successful. Read the next article: Nonprofit grant writing mistakes and grant writing tips.
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Collage ProposalIntroduction In 1912, Pablo Picasso, an avid painter of nature and still life, tore part of a makeshift tablecloth and glued it to his painting, Still Life with Chair Caning, and thus, by adding different items to aid his painting, he began the art of collage making. (Pablo Picasso – Still Life with Chair Canning). A collage is simply a group of objects arranged together to create a complete image of an idea, theme, or memory.
For example, David Modler created a collage called “Big Bug” to represent the irony that is the importance of insects to our natural world in comparison to their size. The bug in the image is the smallest feature of the collage yet it is to be viewed as the most important aspect (Modler, David). All these parts of a collage collaborate together to create a unifying theme or message and can be used as a helpful tool in education.
Statement of Purpose I propose that each student make an artistic collage to be presented to the class that will symbolize the context, audience, setting, structure or any key ideas found in one of the readings this semester. Students who make a collage will be able to drop the lowest quiz grade. Plan of Action The students will have one week from the announcement of the project to complete the collage and prepare a presentation for it.
Each student must choose one reading that we have done so far or will read in the future, and no two students may choose the same work. Conflict with students wanting to present the same work will be resolved by a first come first serve basis. The students will be given a rubric with the exact requirements of the project and what the purpose of the project is. I will make the rubric myself and submit it for approval, or we can use the rubric that I have attached.
Benefits of Collage Proposal Making a collage would allow the students to think and inspect the readings and ideas visually (Rodrigo, “Collage”), thus giving them another perspective, or possibly clearing up any misconceptions and confusions they had about a work when we were just discussing it in class verbally. A collage provides the opportunity for revision of a certain work and would certainly help to clear up any topics in the readings that might come up on the final exam or a future test, via a visual and more creative method.
If a student received a bad grade on a quiz because they did not understand the reading, the collage would give the student an opportunity to go back to the reading and understand it, or to read ahead and grasp concepts that might be useful to present to the class before the class does the reading. A collage would allow the student to become familiar with the work in a visual way and give them an opportunity to understand the main themes, topics, and ideas of a work, even one we might not have read yet.
Viability of Collage Proposal Since a collage would be like giving the student an opportunity to go back and review a subject and at the same time would resemble preparation for a presentation, the time and effort required to go back and re-read a work as well as prepare the collage creatively would be sufficient to justify replacing the lowest quiz grade. Our course mentor said that this project would be a nice addition to the class because, just like any play is better seen than read, the collage will allow students to get the visual aspect behind a work and help them to grasp the ideas better.
Past visuals that we have used in class to describe scenes from our readings such as The Tempest and The Odyssey have greatly helped me to understand some of the ideas of the stories. For example, I always pictured the cyclops as a nasty, vile creature, but after some of the “fuzzy” drawings on the board done by some of my peers, I imagined and understood that he could in fact be a gentle creature that was just angered by Ulysses trespassing and blinding him.
I could not have seen that perspective of the story had it not been for some of the more innocent visuals on the board. Finally, I have discussed with the students in our class about the idea of a collage replacing the lowest quiz grade and the overwhelming majority approved of the idea. Since a collage will substitute for a quiz grade, the assignment will be optional. Just as a quiz is almost always optional based on class initiation of discussion, the collage will also be optional based on similar student effort parameters.
The students who do not want to do a collage can choose “door number 2” and take a quiz that would be created by the teachers and/or myself. This quiz can be used to make the total number of assignments for each student in the class even, and may or may not be graded based on the professor's discretion. Desired Outcomes The first goal of my collage proposal is to give students a chance to be creative and step outside the boundaries of classroom discussion.
They can use their imaginations to find a way to creatively put together a collage that will help the class as well as themselves to better understand the course reading. A second goal of my proposal is that the time and effort put into making the collage and presenting it in front of the class will equal the worth of dropping the lowest quiz grade. Because this collage requires the creator to examine the context, audience, setting, structure of any one of the readings, it is essentially like a quiz itself, which includes questions on similar topics.
Necessary Resources The literary work that a student chooses to create a collage on will determine how much time is necessary to fully complete the project. One week to create a collage should give each student—no matter what reading they choose to do—ample time to create a presentable and educational collage for the class. In terms of tangible resources, this project is not very demanding. A simple poster or a series of photographs or drawings assembled neatly together by the student will be about as resourcefully demanding as this project gets.
In addition, a few hours of class time will need to be allocated in order to present the collages. If each student takes at least five minutes to present the total time needed for the presentations will be 1 hour and 15 minutes. The presentation day(s) and time(s) can be decided by the class as a whole. The rest of the resources needed are already available: The readings are all published online if a student needs to refer back to them Craft supplies are readily available Skills for Successful Completion As a good planner and organizer I made a rubric that is specific enough to give the students a good idea of what they should be doing for the collage.
The rubric can be made available upon your request. In addition I can also come up with a quiz if there are students who want to opt out of the collage project. I can talk to the class and come up with a good presentation time and date for everybody. I would volunteer myself to hold an early presentation session a few days before the due date so the others can get an idea of what their collage could look like and why they can benefit from the project.
I will make myself available to the class if they have any questions about the proposed project. Conclusion A collage will allow students to understand visually a reading or topic in a reading that they may have been confused about. The project is a fun and creative way to get students to think about a reading more in depth as well as review for future exams. As a result of the effort and time put into the collages, the students should be allowed to drop their lowest quiz grade in the semester.
Works Cited Modler, David. Big Bug. Photograph.Kronos Art Gallery. Web. 12 Oct. 2011 "Pablo Picasso - Still Life with Chair Caning (1912)." Lenin Imports. Web. 12 Oct. 2011. Rodrigo. "Collages." Web 2.0 Toolkit. 11 Mar. 2009. Web. 2 Oct. 2011.
Title: How To Write A Grant Proposal For Art