Summary: In today’s podcast, guest Lynn Arsenault from LMA Grant Consulting LLC speaks with Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions about the key components of grant writing. When applying for a grant it can be overwhelming knowing what to include, so these six components will allow you to gain clarity on what to include in your grant applications.
Six Major Steps for the Grant Writing Process
When writing your grant proposal, you are going to want to convey why your program is important, and why you think there is mission alignment between your nonprofit and the funder. By ensuring that you hit upon all of these steps, your application will be clear and concise for funders to read.
1. Organization Background and History:
First, you want to introduce your whole organization by telling a compelling story and say what you are doing, why they are doing it, where are located, etc. You can give a full ut brief summary about your board members, staff, and what programs you offer.
When we are in our own programs and organization we tend to have such a great understanding of what we are doing. However, you want to make it crystal clear to people outside and unaffiliated with the organization what you do. Ensure that you give them the information about your organization that will allow them to see exactly what your mission is and how you strive to achieve it.
This first piece is a great opportunity to introduce your mission statement and also tie that into the funder’s mission statement. Perhaps you already know what your funders’ interests are about, you then can customize your application to recognize and identify key areas of potential similarities. If not, this can also be a great time to do research about each individual funder. This part of the application can be unique to each one you submit.
2. Need Statement:
This part is geared to identify what the need is within your community (region, state, country,) and why it is not already being supported. Your application can identify a specific gap that is not being met, and what your nonprofit is doing to mend that gap.
This step includes reasons why your nonprofit can serve this community or need the best. This section may also include points such as who else is serving this need in the community, and how you can do it better. This can also be a good opportunity to explain the lack of attention that others have given to the community in the past, and why it needs attention now.
This section should give your grant writing application a way to write to show why you would be a better fit over other applications. Nonprofit executive directors or people applying for grants can be very mission-driven, however, this section is an opportunity to “sales pitch” your organization. At the end of the day you are competing for this grant, so you want to make it known why you believe you are the most deserving.
3. Program Goals and Objectives (the What)
Now that you have expressed your nonprofit’s background, history, and need statement, this is the part in your grant writing where you want to address what specifically you want to achieve. There are many different components and programs within an organization, and maybe your application is planning to use this money to improve one specific program.
In this section of your application, you would want to explain what specific program in your nonprofit you are looking to expand upon. The more specific the better, because funders want to know exactly what their money would be supporting.
Within the objectives section, you can expand upon what success means to you, and if you were to receive this grant, you want to expand upon what your definition of success would look like a year from now. If it fits, you can discuss percentages and metrics that you hope to achieve here too.
4. Methodology: (the How)
After you have explained the what, it is now time to move into the how. This section will expand upon the previous section and will now go into detail about how you are going to achieve it. This will look vastly different for each applicant, however, an example could be expenses and budget which will allow you to grow your team or programs. Another one could be using the money to expand using a new online platform that will help you accomplish x, y, z.
This section will give the funders the generic pieces of information they are looking for. Every methodology section will be different, so you want to specifically discuss your nonprofit’s approach and how you are going to achieve it differently than others.
5. Evaluation: (How Will You Evaluate the Success)
Your evaluation section is dedicated to showing your funder how you plan on evaluating your success. This could be through surveys, observations, standardized surveys, etc. There are a plethora of ways to achieve this, but you want to make it clear in your application how you are going to collect your data.
This section also provides you a way to talk about past observations through using similar metrics, and how you are going to improve upon them. You also want to discuss how gathering this data will allow you to improve your program in the future too. Lastly, you will want to tie it back into how these metrics are going to help expand and achieve your mission.
Essentially, this is a financial question to show that you have diverse revenue streams. You don’t want to have your funder assuming that this potential grant would be the money that would keep your program going. The last thing you want is for your application to be viewed as a last resort for financial assistance. Instead, you want to clearly state in your application that you have a history of long-term stable income from many different streams.
Perhaps some of these to expand upon in this section are your program fees, major gifts, fundraising events, individual donors, etc. These are really important factors that show a strong financial background within your nonprofit. Essentially, your funders want to see that you can operate strongly outside of this application if you don’t receive it.
To have the most efficient and successful grant writing process, it can help to make relationships before you apply, network, and build strong lines of communication before submitting an application. Also, looking into hiring a grant writing consultant can be a step many nonprofits choose to take. By following these steps, you not only will build a strong application but also stand out from other organizations.
About the Guest Lynn Arsenault from LMA Grant Consulting LLC
Lynn is the Owner and Grant Consultant of LMA Grant Consulting LLC. As a professional grant writer, Lynn works with nonprofit clients around the U.S. to strategically develop funding goals, identify potential donors, improve proposal writing, and ultimately build a strategy to secure grant funding. Lynn holds an MBA in Nonprofit Leadership and a BA in Elementary Education and Liberal Studies, focusing on psychology. She has written grants for the past four years and started her consulting business last June. Prior to her work as a grant writer, Lynn was a teacher in Texas and Massachusetts and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu.
About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions
Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of loans for nonprofits in the form of Lines of Credit to nonprofits. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Stephen lives in New Jersey with his wife, Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.
10% of profits from Financing Solutions is donated to charity.