It may take you 20 minutes to do a good amount of research on a potential funder, but that research could save you a day’s worth of grantwriting by preventing you from applying
for a grant you don’t qualify for.
It may seem easier to apply for one or two mega-sized R2.5 million grants, but competition for those size grants is fierce and often national or international in scope. Instead, focus on building a supportive group of foundations in your area who fund your work on a regular basis.
Your entire grant proposal should be telling a story – the story of your work and your grand vision for the future . . . the vision you want the foundation to invest in. Learn how to tell that story in every grant proposal you write.
All other things being equal, if a foundation has to choose between two non-profits to fund, one of which has clear financial records, a good accounting system, and studies that show the effectiveness of its work – while the other has only the most rudimentary financial reports, a haphazard accounting system, and only anecdotal evidence that its programmes actually work, the foundation will fund the first non-profit every time. Remember – your non-profit needs to show that it is a great investment worthy of grant Rands.
Foundations see the money they give out in grants as “seed” money for future growth. If a foundation gives you R1 000 000 to fund a new education programme, it is almost always with the assumption that the programme will eventually become self-sufficient. Then, having changed the world for the better through that R1 000 000 gift, the foundation will move on to other projects and organisations.
Make sure you are casting a big vision in your grant proposals and showing funders that investing in your work will allow them to change the world through your non-profit.
6. Funders are overwhelmed, thus they look for ways to ‘disqualify’ organisations easily
If a foundation gives out ten R500 000 grants per year, chances are that they get 100-500 proposals from organisations seeking to win those grants. Like the non-profits they fund, foundations are generally understaffed, with far fewer grant officers than they need to give each proposal the time it really deserves.
One quick way to cut the workload at foundations is to disqualify non-profit organisations that fail to meet all of the application criteria set out by the foundation. Know the rules for your grant proposal before you begin.