5 Steps to Write a Grant Proposal for your Nonprofit

Written by Christine Bové on May 14, 2020 in Church Management

Did you know there are billions of dollars awarded to nonprofit organizations every year? And did you know your church or ministry could qualify to receive some of those funds?

What a fantastic opportunity!

We know you and your ministry want to have the most impact on bettering the world. But sometimes it means you need funds to propel your mission forward.

How do you tap into the billions of dollars circulating every year? You apply for grants.

There are many options for generating income for your ministry. However, grants are a great way to generate income as well as open new doors of possibilities for Kingdom expansion.

Where can you find grants?

There are many online resources that will point you in the direction of grant opportunities.

Consider what type of grant you are searching for. Are you looking for grants that help with abuse prevention? Are you looking for something to assist with homelessness? Searching with specific types of grants in mind helps narrow down your options and makes them easier to find. 

Don’t know where to begin? We have our own database where you can search for available grants. Use our database as a tool to propel you forward. Or search databases from other organizations to find more options for grants that fit your vision and mission.

How do you write a grant proposal?

Writing a grant application can be very intimidating, but don’t let it deter you from applying. Who knows if that is a way God wants to bless you and your ministry? So don’t let fear get in the way.

If you were to do a web search for how to write a grant proposal, you will come across many excellent resources. Take a look and see what style fits best for the grant you want to apply for. 

Our methodology certainly isn’t the only way of structuring a grant application. However, we hope it does inspire and inform you on how you can write a proposal.

Here are 5 practical tips to writing a grant proposal:

1. Structure your grant application like a proposal.

    • Begin the application with a summary. What’s the mission and vision of your organization? 
    • Include a statement of need. What is the problem you are working to solve?
    • Include your goals and objectives. How will this grant make a difference?
    • Include your methods and strategies. Describe how you are going to achieve your goals.
    • Include a plan of evaluation. How are you holding your plan accountable?
    • Include a budget. How will you use the grant money if received? 
    • Wrap up your proposal with final vision casting and closing remarks.

2. Include SMART goals.

One of the most important sections within a grant proposal is describing how you are going to implement your goals and strategies. 

Using a well-known goal-setting methodology such as “SMART goals” is a great way to structure this section of your proposal.

SMART goals are:

    • Specific. Your goals should not be too general, but they should have details and be simple enough to know exactly what they are.
    • Measurable. Your goals should be able to be held accountable in some form. How will you measure your program's success?
    • Achievable. Your goals should be realistic and able to be achieved through your program. 
    • Relevant. Your goals should contribute to the greater mission and vision of your organization, and they should meet a true need in the community. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but you only want the ones that will push forward the overall goals of the organization.
    • Time-bound. Your program should have a specific time limit to meet your goals. When should your goals be considered finished and achieved?

3. Do your research beforehand.

When creating your grant application, you want to tailor it to the organization you are applying to. Don’t let it be generic. Find out who is making the final decision. Is it a board? Is it an individual? You can then tailor the application to address those people or the individual specifically. 

You want to communicate that your nonprofit is a great fit vision-wise with the organization offering the grant. While writing your application, share how your ministry’s vision aligns with theirs. However, you won’t be able to effectively communicate that if you are unsure of who you are applying to or if you didn’t do the research ahead of time to know why they do what they do.

4. Gather references.

There are two kinds of references you can use. 

One reference could be individuals who are influencers to vouch for your organization. A comment about your organization from them may add a high level of influence in the decision-making process. 

Another reference is to cite facts within your proposal from highly reputable resources. If you don’t have influencers at your disposal, you can cite data. Use data and statistics from credible organizations to support what you are trying to communicate. The key is to make sure you are correctly referencing the data. 

5. Clean it up.

Have one or more people look at your proposal and offer honest feedback and critiques. Pick people whom you can trust to be honest. Include in your grouping of readers people who aren’t as familiar with the program. They will offer an outside perspective.

Pay attention to grammar. Nothing is worse than when someone is reviewing your proposal, and they are hindered by spelling and grammatical errors. Safeguard your proposal by using grammar tools, spell checkers, and a variation of words (so you don’t sound redundant). 

Not an excellent writer? Refer to a friend who is skilled or a professional to review your proposal and help you craft it.

Call us today at 877-494-4655 to receive a free sample problem statement. 

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Don’t forget!

There is a list of requirements that are typically included with your grant application. While some may vary, always refer to the grantor’s list and provide what they are requesting.

Typical requirements include

    • Articles of Incorporation,
    • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN),
    • Bylaws, 
    • 501(c)(3) Determination Letter, and 
    • An independent audit of your financials.

There might be other requirements from the organization that is offering the grant. Make sure you have everything they are asking for to qualify. 

Don’t qualify for a grant?

Churches and ministries can apply for grants. Just be aware that not all grants are available to religious organizations. 

This is where having a Community Development Corporation (CDC) comes into play.

A CDC is a nonprofit corporation that is separate from the church or ministry. It is typically secular in nature. Because it is nonreligious, a CDC can receive funding from granting organizations that do not reward grants to religious organizations. The government can also provide funding since the CDC is designed to reach out and serve the community.

Using a CDC minimizes the potential issues revolving around religious beliefs between the church and state. Even though a CDC is nonreligious, church members can operate the CDC at all levels and share the love of Jesus through personal relationships.

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Stay encouraged

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive all of the grants you apply for. Out of the multitudes of applications you could send out, typically, only a few will be funded. Take heart that once you get your first few applications out, sending out more applications will be easier with time, and the “no” won’t sting as badly.

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hears through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 NIV

And what a day that will be when you get your first request granted! 

A world of possibilities opens up to you! You can continue an ongoing relationship with them, entering into a partnership that could last for some time. You can engage with the community and share the love of Jesus through the partnerships and the relationships you build together.

I encourage you to call our specialists today to learn more about Community Development Corporation at 877-494-4655, or simply click the button below to have one of them call you. It is our honor to serve you.

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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