Writing a grant proposal can be a daunting process. The good news is that there are steps you can take right now to make it a little easier. Certain information is common to most grant proposals, and it’s a great idea to gather those pieces now so you can focus on the specific requirements of each proposal. Place these documents in a multi-part file with labeled sections. This keeps all the information organized and in one place, rather than using several individual files that can get misplaced, or one large file where the information can become disorganized.
Grant proposals usually require a description of the organization
The mission statement, vision statement, strategic plan and history of the organization help you draft that description. To develop a section about key staff qualifications, you can utilize organization charts, and biographies of the staff and board members.
Most grants are program specific
To address this section of the proposal, you should have descriptions of the organization’s current projects and programs. You need to know what specific services are offered and how they are provided. One of the best ways to develop this section is to actually spend time with program managers and get involved with the program activities to get a better sense of how things work and who is served. This knowledge allows you to better match your organization programs with funder areas of interest.
Grant makers usually appreciate some assurance that their investment into your programs will be successful
You can address this by developing information about resources your organization has that make its projects and programs flourish. This can include partnerships with other groups, significant experience or expertise with particular populations, or staff, volunteers or board members with specialized knowledge.
Catalog the accomplishments of the organization
Don’t overlook any awards, media coverage, commendations, thank you letters, and especially success stories of your program participants. Collect these items as they are received so it’s an automated part of this organizational process.
Review and place the latest organization publications in your grant preparation file
This includes the annual report, newsletters, brochures, the most recent 990, and the budget. These items help you understand the organization better, and they are often requested by the grant maker as part of the application.
Last but not least, don't forget about your IRS tax-exempt determination letter!
A copy of that letter is regularly requested as an attachment to a letter of inquiry.
Having all this information ahead of time makes your job easier because you will now understand your organization thoroughly. Additionally, you should be able to determine more quickly if a particular grant is the right match for your nonprofit.