Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Organizational Background and Capacity

This post is the third in a series of posts about writing successful grant proposals. See earlier posts about picking a funder, here, and paying attention to basic requirements like formatting, here.

You may think that a proposal should be focused on the terrific services your program will provide, but often, especially when you are responding to a government-sponsored Request for Proposals (RFP), the funder will want to know something about the organization submitting the proposal. Most funders will ask you to provide introductory material. Sometimes they want to know about the neighborhood in which you operate, and the people you serve.

Remember, when you submit a proposal, that you're entering a competition. You don't have to answer any questions that aren't asked. By the same token, you should answer all the questions that have been asked. But stay focused! You don't have to explain why it's critically important to fund early childhood programs if the funder is seeking to fund day care programs. In that situation, you'll want to focus on why your day care center, in your site in your neighborhood, should be the program that receives the funding. On the other hand, if you're applying to an organization that supports early childhood development, then you'd need to explain how funding a day care program like yours furthers the funder's goals.

The second part of the introductory material often requests information about your organization. This is also not a place to skip any questions. If the funder wants to know about your internal financial controls, find out about them and write a sentence or two describing them. Don't hesitate to boast about your experience, but don't exaggerate it either. Make sure you supply context for any claims. If you're providing statistics, be sure to provide both the percentage and the total number you served. Identify the source of any data you provide.

As always when writing responses or applications, stay within the prescribed page limits. It's always better to be under--if you are, that gives you more space to write your program description. (And that will be the next post in this series.)

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