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Proposal as the Tip of the Iceberg

There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved in creating a compelling, persuasive and fundable proposal. No wonder nonprofits put a lot of eggs in that basket. At the risk of a ticket from the metaphor police, maybe we need to spend more time caring for the chickens and ensuring that those eggs are well-nourished. A lot of work needs to be done before, and in preparation for, a terrific proposal. These are some of the important elements of the iceberg which lie below the surface.

Don'ts and More Don'ts

When it’s time to develop and present a proposal to a potential funder, there are a lot of things a nonprofit might do to improve its chances of a grant. Whatever those positive steps for your organization, here are some negatives—things that are a must to avoid—that apply to most organizations seeking funding.

What's New?

Good news: the foundation has given you a grant, you’ve spent the money and now it’s time to submit an application for another award. This is an opportunity to create a “new top” for your story—a new headline, a fresh look at the challenges, a record of what’s been done and how that sets you up for what comes next. It’s also a chance to avoid sounding like “here we are again.”

Holding Up Your End

It’s not uncommon: a nonprofit’s program staff or its executive director get excited about funding opportunities and ask the proposal writer or development people “put something together and go after that grant! The XYZ Foundation says it’s interested in what we do, there’s a deadline coming up in a week, so write it up and submit it.”

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