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The 3 P's of Applying for a Grant: Preparing, Planning, and Partnering

Posted By Linda Salzman, Friday, June 9, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wouldn’t it be nice if your community’s most philanthropic resident knocked at your door to donate a million dollars to help your clients? Nice, but not too likely. Most of us have to spend time and energy completing countless grant applications. How can you improve the success of your grant writing? By paying attention to the three Ps – Preparing, Planning and Partnering.

Preparing

First, prepare your organization to be grant-ready. Many funders request the same documents, so gathering them in one place in advance saves you time and alleviates stress when you’re under the pressure of a grant deadline. While some grantors ask for more documentation than others, these documents are generally requested in most grant applications.
  • IRS 501(c)3 Determination Letter
  • Most Recent 990
  • Most Recent Audited Financial Statement
  • List of Board of Directors
  • Certification of Accreditation (if relevant)
  • Current Operating Budget
Funders not only ask for financial and certification documentation, they frequently ask for similar types of information. That’s great to know – allows you to prepare ahead. What are those components that most funders want? Mission, organizational history, need and demographics of the clients you serve. Some of these you may have already written; others may need to be developed. Once written, you can use them over and over, customizing them to the specific requests of the funder.
 
Create a computer-based Grant Documents folder, so they are easily and quickly accessible.

Planning

With the basics handled, it’s time to turn your attention to planning the details of the grant – this is your initial thoughts about the activity you’d like to fund – who, what, why, how, when, and where.
  • Who is your target audience? What are their demographics?
  • What activity would you like to fund? Event, program, project, initiative, campaign or operations?
  • How do you plan to implement your activity? What strategies will you use toward successful implementation? What will successful implementation look like (goals)?
  • Why are you going to do this activity? In what ways will this activity have a positive impact on your target audience?
  • When will you implement this activity? This may be frequency, specific date, month, season, year, or multi-year.
  • Where will you implement this activity? What geographic area?
  • How will you measure and evaluate success?

The answers to these questions make up your executive summary, they drive your search for a perfect grant, and they are the foundation of the grant application. Successful grantees don’t adapt their activities to the grant; instead, they locate a grant that is aligned with their activity.

Partnering

Applying for a grant can be like a well-planned and choreographed dinner party. You’re the host so you make all the decisions. But you’re not alone. You plan the menu with your family and decide what to serve and when. You talk with others about the decorations and theme. Someone else helps you with the invitations and dinnerware. These are your SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and they serve an important role.

The grant writer (internal or external) is your chef, working closely with you to create the perfect gourmet meal. She gathers the ingredients, preps them, then incorporates just the right amount of textures and flavors, cooks them and places them on the plates with a flare. Your internal SMEs guide the chef to prepare a meal that is representative of your culture, guests, and needs.
The chef manages the timeline of the meal, but you, as the host, manage the timeline of the evening. You work hand-in-hand to ensure everything is prepared just right and served at the perfect time. Just like in planning a dinner party, the success is closely tied to clear, respectful communications, understanding roles and responsibilities, and collaborative partnership.

The chef manages the timeline of the meal, but you, as the host, manage the timeline of the evening. You work hand-in-hand to ensure everything is prepared just right and served at the perfect time. Just like in planning a dinner party, the success is closely tied to clear, respectful communications, understanding roles and responsibilities, and collaborative partnership.

Dinner is Served!

Now that you’ve completed the 3 Ps – Preparing, Planning, and Partnerships – you’re ready to submit grant applications. Grantors receive way more applications than they’re able to fund, so they look for ways to eliminate applications. Don’t make it easy for them to eliminate yours. Make sure all components are answered, all attachments are provided, and the application is submitted well before the deadline. Funders want to help. They want to know that the project they fund will make a positive impact in the lives of your clients. They want to support your cause. Help them do that.

About the Author

Excellence in Performance is here to help. From grant writing to customized training to executive coaching, we can help your nonprofit agency develop and attain high quality performance. Contact Linda Salzman at (561) 329-4612.

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