Guide to Submitting a Winning Application

  • Read the Request for Proposal (RFP) or General Guidelines (GG). RFP’s/GG’s are full of details and requirements. Highlight relevant sections and make notes. Know the RFP/GG inside and out before you start writing the proposal.
  • Know if your organization will be the right fit. Knowing your strengths and limitations going in makes it more likely that you will go for projects that are appropriate and thus get funded. If you are unsure about whether your project fits our guidelines, call the Foundation.
  • Follow directions. Our funding guidelines require a section on evaluation, collaborating with community partners, etc. It is imperative that you are thorough in completing these sections. For example: if you are going to partner with community members, talk about that in detail within the proposal.
  • Follow the Guidelines Format. Make the proposal clear and as easy to read as possible. Following the same structure as the guidelines makes it easier for reviewers to follow.
  • Don’t use acronyms. When you write the proposal, don’t assume the person reading it knows the ‘industry speak.’ If you must use acronyms, spell it out when first used so the reader can refer back.
  • Give substance. Sometimes a proposal can look good on the first readthrough. The project you are proposing must be substantive and sound and include measurable outcomes.
  • “Out of Thin Air.” If you say you have particular skills and experience, back it up with specifics. Give details to support your claim. Pulling claims out of thin air in order to meet the criteria required in the RFP/GG without providing documentation or details will not get you points with a reviewer. We are looking for realism. We know that no organization or project is perfect. Goals must be realistic, and don’t be afraid to share your challenges. Investing in risky projects is what foundations do as long as the assumptions make sense.
  • To partner or not to partner, that is the question. Funders like to see collaborative partnerships especially with other community-based or faith-based organizations if the partnerships bring added value to the project and help you reach your goals. If possible, build partnerships with other organizations that complement your own skills or have access to the audience you need to reach. If you are a large organization, look for partners to augment what you are offering. If a small organization, particularly if you have not had specific experience required in the RFP/GG, partner with a larger, more experienced organization to gain what you need.
  • Are we finished yet? Read your proposal. Once you have put your grant request together, have someone outside of your agency or department read it comparing it to the RFP/GG. A fresh look by an outsider can give you great insight.

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