My grandfather used to tell my brother and me stories. It was how he would share our family's legacy. Some stories were funny, some embarrassing, but all were memorable.
Submitting a proposal to a funder is like telling your story. All stories, even when writing a grant, share many similarities:
They are engaging.
Engaging is having the reviewer hang on to every word and look forward to your next sentence. Each line should entice the reviewer to learn more about your organization and project. The end of the proposal should make them feel like writing a check and being an instrumental stakeholder. While you are engaging, you are demonstrating impact- what have you done, why are you the best organization to support, and what makes you unique.
They have a villain and a hero.
Every story has a villain and a hero or, in our case, a problem and a solution. Heavily detail the problem, scope of impact, and short and long term impacts. Use quantitative and sometimes qualitative data and stories to demonstrate the problem you're trying to solve. How long has it been an issue? Who is impacted? What has been done? Why has it worked? Why hasn't it worked?
Now it's your turn to propose a solution. What solutions, in your opinion, will solve this problem? Be practical and realistic. Reviewers know you can't feed $1 million people with $5 in 3-months. Propose a well-thought solution that can be executed within your capacity.
They have characters that we can relate to.
I love incorporating testimonials in proposals. It brings a realistic perspective to what you do. People relate to people. Sharing a story of a program recipient that has been positively impacted by your program brings a face to the forefront of your cause.
We remember them.
After a reviewer has read 20 applications and needs to make a recommendation at the meeting next week, will they remember you?
What will you include in your next application to achieve these goals and be memorable?
Shavonn Richardson, MBA is Founder of Think and Ink Grant Consulting™ www.thinkandinkgrants.com.
She is a grant writer, nonprofit consultant, speaker and an active member of the Grant Professionals Association.