How to Prepare Successful Grant Application for Your Organization

There is no surefire way to write a grant application! Submitting an application requires experience and honed writing skills. In the following article, we present 5 golden rules that will help you write a successful grant application the right way, and with less effort and frustration.

1. Find the Grant That’s Right for You – Preliminary Research

Many new online databases with information on foundations, potential donors and other funding bodies with priorities similar to those of your organization have appeared over the past few years. The government, municipalities, business corporations and philanthropic foundations all have specific funding priorities. So, before embarking on in-depth research and writing lengthy grant applications, it is advisable to thoroughly read about the organization, foundation or donor you are approaching in order to ensure that your organization or project match their basic eligibility criteria.

2. Writing A Successful Grant Application Begins with Extensive Research

You have identified a funding body that you can apply to? Congratulations! Before you begin, make sure that you have everything you need. Now is the time to review all the preliminary requirements of the funding body, which can be dived into two categories:

Prerequisites: registration, a certificate of proper management, bookkeeping certification, a budget, an income tax ordinance– these and others are but some of the bureaucratic requirements that many funding bodies require. It is advisable to check beforehand that your organization meets funding criteria and that you can provide all the relevant forms. For example, to Approval for donations under the Income Tax Ordinance [Article 46], a lengthy process is often required vis-à-vis the tax authority.

Requirements: Are you submitting an application in response to a call published by the foundation or organization? Are you approaching a private foundation or an individual? An Public institution? Wherever you choose to apply to, make sure you can meet the deadline. Does the foundation accept grant applications throughout the year (in which case, it is advisable to submit as early as possible), or only up until a published deadline? Will the funding body accept grant applications from everyone, without prior introduction or is there a need for a preceding introductory meeting? Moreover, it is advisable to keep track of specific grant application requirements: is there a fixed form to fill in? Must the application be submitted online? Do you need to sign up for an online grant application portal and create a profile?

All of these questions are part of your basic research. Extensive and precise research will help you find the best suited funding body for your organization and will significantly increase your chances of receiving a significant donation rather than a rejection.

3. Nice to Meet You – Writing an Introductory Letter (LOI)

The LOI is a letter sent prior to the submission of an grant application that provides a clear and concise description of your organization: its background and rationale, goals, activities, accomplishments, and its uniqueness vis-à-vis other organizations working on similar issues. It is important to ensure that the LOI does not exceed two pages and that it contains contact information and a link to your organization’s website and social media pages (if these exist). Keep in mind that the introductory letter is a kind of business card that portrays who you and your organization are (often for the very first time).

4. The Power of Words – Writing a Full Grant Application

The time has come: you found the right funding body, you conducted your research, and now all that remains is the writing itself. In this section, we will present the main parts of the application (in most cases), their meaning, and a few tips from us before you set forth.

Needs and Goals: Clearly present the main goals that are at the heart of the organization’s activities and the needs that your work fulfills. It is advisable to define the goals and needs of your organization according to the priorities of the donor you are approaching. In this section we often want to add a description of our activities and of the main principles that guide our work.
*Tip: We recommended you elaborate a bit about your activities and goals if this is the first time you are approaching a particular donor.

The Organizational Model: Detail how the organization answers a social need and what makes its work unique.
*Tip: In Israel, there are some 41,000 registered nonprofit organizations, and every year another 1,500-2,000 are added to the roster on average. This presents a high ratio of organizations compared to the size of our population, which means many organizations overlap and address the same target audiences. This is where you must consider how to present your specialty and uniqueness, especially if you are applying to an open call. In addition to you, there are most likely more organizations working on issues similar to your own that will be applying as well, and it is therefore crucial to make your uniqueness stand out.

Measurable Outcomes: This is your way of showing the potential donor the significance of your contribution to society. Every funding body that supports you would like to know how their money has been ‘put into action.’ Detailing measurable outcomes enables you and the donor to assess criteria for the project or activity’s actual success. One example of a measurable outcome is a shift that can be observed in the field or participants’ perception, a change that can be measured through feedback forms.
*Tip: Note that you will be specifying short-term goals that can be assessed at the end of activities, but also long-term evaluative measures, which will help show how your activity has significant impact that will continue after the project is completed.

Budget: when you submit an grant application for funding you are in effect asking for a certain amount of money. You must detail all the components that have led you to reach the sum you are asking for. In most cases, you are asked to submit an organizational budget and audited financial reports from previous years together with the project budget.
*Tip: The better you break down items in your budget, the better your chances of receiving the sum you requested. Please note that the budget is for one activity year, so if the project is expected to take more than a year, it is important to provide the full sum needed but also to specify costs for one year in the itemized sections.

Duration and Milestones: Detail how the project will be implemented. When will it begin and when will it end? Are there preparatory stages such as councilors’ training? Will evaluations take place over the year or only at the end?
*Tip: If this is a multi-year project, you should detail the project stages and milestones for each activity year, even if these are repeated cycles in the same projects. Detailing for every year is testament to thoughtful preparation and planning.

Challenges in Completing the Project: successful planning includes consideration of the challenges and difficulties that might affect the implementation of the project or the attainment of its goals. Detailing difficulties and challenges are not enough – you should specify how you intend to overcome these difficulties and challenges.
*Tip: Try to match goals and objectives to challenges. For example, if one of the goals that you specified is changing perception among project participants (assessed through feedback forms) you may need to take into account that such a change may not happen. One way to address this difficulty is to bring participants’ peers and families into the fold as well, so that they can become a source of support and influence and provide a stronger basis for perception change.

Partners (Highly Recommended): This is where you address project or organizational partners. These can be funding partners, and should be detailed in the budget, or ideological partners such as organizations that you cooperate with that share the same goals.
*Tip: Ideological partners show that your project or activity is sustainable even after the funding that you are requesting ends.

5. Meeting the Deadline When Applying

The earlier you submit your grant application the better. If the funding body to which you are applying has a fixed deadline, even a few minutes’ delay can lead to automatic rejection and everything you prepared will go to waste and no one will even read your application. If you are reaching out to a foundation independently (without a tender or a call), this aspect is still important. Some foundations limit the number of grants they award every year so the sooner you approach them the better the chance that you will receive a positive answer.

The extent and demands of writing an grant application for support change from one donor to another, and the level of preliminary research and writing change accordingly. Nevertheless, an important ground rule for all grant applications is the use of modest and clear language. In the world of resource development in the nonprofit sector, prior experience is vital. At the end of the day, without grants and support your organization’s important activities will not be able to take place.

At the Minuf Group, we help build the capacity of nonprofit and civil society organizations, so that they can be robust and impactful. In many cases, you will be requested to submit an application in English in addition to Hebrew (and sometimes only in English). Our staff is comprised of native English speakers  as well as native Hebrew speakers.

We offer a range of services including resource development, digital marketing, strategic planning, and more. Our experienced staff is comprised of professionals with years of experience in the field who will manage the application process from beginning to end. Our team is highly experienced in writing grant applications to foundations, federations, private donors, government bodies, and more.

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