Welcome to part 9 of our blog series, "Level-Up Your Fundraising."
This latest blog series is written to help nonprofits of all sizes navigate through several different fundraising situations. Each tip is designed to help you raise more money with less stress and hassle for your organization.
If you missed part 8 which is all about your website, you can view it here.
Part 9: In Order to Win More Grants, Cast a Bigger, More Emotional Vision for Funders
One of the biggest things to remember when writing grant proposals is that grantmakers don’t like to fund small visions. Like individual donors, funders want to get caught up in a story and a vision bigger than themselves. Even if you are only applying for a $5,000 grant from a large foundation, that foundation will still be far more likely to award you the grant if they feel inspired and moved by your vision and mission.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that because your project is, in the grand scheme of things, relatively small, you should write about it in restrained terms in your grant proposal. For example, just because you are only seeking $10,000 to fund a pilot and feasibility study to test a new hypothesis doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use the grant proposal to cast your huge vision of finding the cure… and then explain how the project you seek funding for will move that dream closer to reality.
The best way to win big grants is to cast a big vision, back it up with a healthy budget and plans for scalability and sustainability, and then once you win the grant, do what you say you are going to do.
Matching Your Vision to Your Funders’ Vision
While writing your grant proposal and casting your vision, it is important to find ways to match your organization’s overall vision with the vision of the funding organization. In our research example above, you may find yourself applying for a grant from a foundation that supports research for your disease. If so, you will need to make sure that you cast a vision not just for your hypothesis but for how the funding organization will help you, through this project, find a cure.
It’s never okay to lie in your grant proposals. It’s never okay to act like you are going to do one thing when you know that you will be using the funds for something else. But it is okay – in fact, necessary, in many cases, to spend some time figuring out how your project fits with the varying missions and visions of the millions of foundations that exist in the world today… and then to write your grant proposals in a way that highlights the way your vision can complement and supplement the visions of those foundations.
Why You Need to Get Your Funders Emotionally Hooked
Though we like to think otherwise, psychological and sociological studies show that human beings don’t make their initial decisions based on logic and reason. Instead, they rely on gut instinct to make a decision and then use logic and reason to try to find ways to support that decision. It’s only when logic simply cannot support the decision they made with their gut that most people will begrudgingly change their minds.
That’s why you need to get your funders emotionally hooked into your organization, vision, and current project. You want the grant-officers and foundation board members that are reading your grant proposal to feel so strongly about your work that their gut tells them to fund your project. Then, include all the information they need to back up that gut decision logically and defend it to their colleagues and bosses.