It’s JVA grantmaking time for the Colorado Compassion Initiative. Our teams of volunteer peer reviewers, as well as our staff, have been thoroughly reviewing grant applications from nonprofit organizations from across the state.
We know how busy you are, and finding time to write solid proposals can be challenging. But if you are going to go for it, put forth your best!
Here are some tips that we would like to share with you so you can make sure that your grant applications are the strongest possible in this tough economy:
- Match your budgets to the program description. Many of the budgets we reviewed were only vaguely aligned with the grant request.
- Be careful with cut-and-paste proposals. Like many funders, JVA is using the Colorado Common Grant Application. But using a common form doesn’t mean that you don’t have to customize to the funder’s interests.
- Do show in-kind, but be careful to show what is in-kind, maybe in a separate column in the budget. Some applications were almost thrown out for being over the threshold budget when a careful reviewer discovered that the total budget amount included in-kind.
- You’ve heard this from JVA before (and frequently): make sure all board members are contributing financially to your organization. One of our reviewers identified as a “big problem” that “not all board members contribute!”
- Add more measures of success besides client self-report of satisfaction. Funders are looking for outcomes—tell us how you measure success!
- Know what is out there and build on local contacts. Many groups seem unaware of other organizations doing similar work in their communities.
- Tell a story. Bring the conditions in your community to life!
- Talk about your constituency and its needs, not your needs for funding.
- Make it clear how our investment plus your effort will equal changed conditions. There are a lot of amazing programs out there, and we are in awe of what people are trying to accomplish with little. But it is not always clear what is needed and what will make a difference. The easier you can make it on reviewers to figure this out, the more likely your grant application will end up in the “yes” column!
Fill out all the forms!
Add the numbers in budgets…