Does Your Proposal Say
“Same Old, Same Old”
Ann C. Fitzgerald, President
Does your proposal send the message: “Our organization is lazy”?
Sometimes our proposals make the wrong impression.
This is especially true when we use the same template year after year to ask for support from grantmaking foundations. We’re sending the message that we can’t bother to put the time into writing a new proposal.
But what should we do when our programs don’t change a lot from year to year? How can we give a fresh perspective to the same project?
- First, consider the world around you. Your program may not have changed but the political, economic or social environment probably has. Take the time to put your work into a new context. For example, a nonprofit that provides meals to the poor may have experienced an increased demand for its services due to the economic downturn. Or, a think tank’s policy success could be altered by a change in the Administration or Congress or by a new policy direction.
- Second, make your case anew. Revisit your original vision for the project. What do you ultimately hope to achieve? What are the obstacles in your way and how will you overcome them through your proposed project?
- Third, get out in the field. Meet with the project staff or the people being served by your work. Ask them how your work is making a difference.
- Fourth, become a storyteller. Relay your passion for the mission by humanizing the impact of your activities.
- Fifth, look at your proposal with fresh eyes. It may be time to have a colleague from another organization or another outsider critique your proposal and offer advice for improvements.
It’s always easy to send the same old proposal. And you may even get a grant by using it. However, you’ll find that a fresh template with an updated case for support will improve your chances for success and enhance all your fundraising communications.
Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.