Grants and Proposals Writing in Non-Profits

The Basics of Grant and Proposal Writing

In its basic form, a grant document is a request for funding from either a private donor or a governmental agency. Similarly, a proposal document is a statement of activities that have been undertaken or going to be done in the future so that the donors have an idea of what the non-profit does. The donors can be foundations or governmental agencies and the grant and proposals must convey to them what the request for funding is all about and how the money is going to be spent. With the funds for non-profits drying up for various reasons, the activity of preparing grants and proposals has become vital to the survival of the non-profits. No wonder many non-profits including smaller outfits are now employing professional grant and proposal writers to prepare these documents. Indeed, the basic requirement of request for assistance has now transformed into a statement of activities and an enumeration of the works taken up by the non-profits. It has also become an articulation of the vision and mission of the non-profits.

Commonalities with the Corporate World

Despite the non-profit sector being distinct from the for profit corporate world, there are many commonalities between these two sectors where the grant and proposal writing is concerned. This is because like in the corporate sector, the non-profits have to sell and market their organizations to donors and governmental agencies and hence have to pitch for funding. This involves drafting proposals that are similar to the ones prepared by private companies when they make a RFI or Request for Information proposal. Indeed, as can be seen in the way non-profits like CRY (Child Relief and You) and Action Aid operate, they are as much corporatized as any other company in their approach to soliciting funds for developmental activities.

Need to Understand Governmental and Donor Policies and Mindsets

The other key driver of the grants and proposal writing in non-profits is that the same template cannot be used across the board and there must be different sets of proposals to private donors and to governmental agencies. This is because the format in which the request has to be made is different in each case as well as because the labyrinthine laws and rules in the governmental agencies demand greater detail and more focus on specifics. Of course, in these recessionary times, even the private donors are demanding greater performance measures and are asking about how the money is being spent with an emphasis on SROI (Social Return on Investment) a term which we discussed in a previous article. This means that non-profits have to have intimate knowledge of governmental laws and by-laws as well as perform performance audits of their organizations to incorporate these details into their grant and proposal documents.

Closing Thoughts

With many donors and governmental agencies becoming choosy about the kind of projects that they would fund, non-profits have to strain themselves to be heard above the din. Hence, the activity of grant and proposal writing has become one of the key drivers of success for non-profits.


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