Once you've targeted a group of potential funding sources, the next step is to develop a grants-winning strategy and craft an application that will beat out the competition. Winners are creative, focused and persistent when seeking grants for their projects. We include a short checklist to help you win your funding and keep on topic. <!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->Grantmakers receive many off-target funding requests. It is an obvious, but crucial point -- previously mentioned, but worth repeating: Determine the grantmaker's annual funding priorities and guidelines before sending your proposal. <!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Grantmakers need a reason to get beyond the first page -- also known as the 30- second test. This is your opportunity to stand out by capturing the grantmaker's imagination and inviting further in-depth review with a clear, innovative focus. <!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->You need direct, demonstrable, broad-based collaboration. These stakeholders, strategic partners and alliances will help you reduce costly duplication of effort. If your goal is to meet community needs, you can reduce your competition for grants significantly -- and attract more funders -- by putting strategic, collaborative project partnerships together, which lets everyone win. <!--[if !supportLists]-->4. <!--[endif]-->Needs always exceed resources. What is the long term ROI (return on investment) for the grantmaker from your project? Is it advocacy, change, improved emergency or transitional services, housing, education, innovation, an exhibit, a performance, a unique collaboration or reduced duplication of services? <!--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[endif]-->Is your project specific to your community? Could others learn and benefit from or replicate your experience? Funders love to invest in projects that can be replicated. There are, of course, many one-time, unique community needs to meet. Basic Approach This sounds like quite a process. A resource development consultant for nonprofit organizations warns that unless you develop some basic tools that are maintained year-round for all fundraising efforts, you're not going to have time to do a proper campaign. These tools include: <!--[if !supportLists]-->A short case, which is a 1-10 page summary of your organization that can act as justification for your funding request. While it can be a pain to prepare, once done, it helps make all other fundraising activities easier. Experts call it the hymnal (or script) from which all persons associated with the organization speak, write or present. The case should answer all questions that might be asked by prospects; be typewritten and placed in binders for easy changes; available for rapid response to opportunities for support; distributed to all staff and volunteers, and regularly reviewed and updated (this last point is key, as it is often overlooked). The case often makes up a good part of any grant proposal narrative. A prospect pool, which involves a list of persons and organizations served directly or indirectly...
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