You have a project that you’re really excited about. You know it will make a huge, positive difference in your community, and you’ve identified The Pollination Project as an organization that might be able to provide you with initial funding. You pass the pre-screen quiz and carefully begin filling out the grant application. Questions linger for you, however: How I can ensure my application is as strong as possible? How do I convey the long-term goals of my project? And perhaps most important—just what makes a “good” grant application?
Fortunately, our expert Grants Manager, Tara Matthews, knows exactly what makes an application stand out from the crowd. Here are her top 5 tips to increase your chances of receiving funding—and getting to that all-important “yes”:
1) Make sure that your funding request directly correlates to the goals that are outlined in the application.
When you apply for a grant, first make sure to have specific end goals–or positive outcomes–in mind for the project. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I hope my project will achieve?
- How can I translate those hoped-for achievements into specific project goals?
- How will the funding I’m requesting help meet those goals?
Then, make sure that the funding you’re asking for will help you in achieving those specific goals. In other words, your plan should directly address the issue you are working to solve, and your budget should directly support the plan that you describe in your application.
Here’s an example of how to think about those questions if your project is, for instance, to open an after-school program for youth.
- What do I expect my project to achieve?
My project will achieve getting youth off the streets after school.
- How can I translate that hoped-for achievement into specific goals?
My projects goals are to decrease youth-led crime in my community and to help young people who have already been involved in crime.
- How will the funding I’m requesting help meet that goal?
I am requesting $1,000 to pay for educational materials for three crime-prevention classes a week for six weeks for 10 young people in Chicago who have previously been involved in criminal activity.
Identifying your goals gives reviewers a sense of your hopes and priorities for your work and allows them to realistically assess your proposed plan against these goals.
2) Demonstrate how you want your project to develop over the next 1 to 2 years.
The goals you listed in part C of the last step should be realistic and attainable and should ideally also reflect how you want your project to develop over the next 1 to 2 years.
In the example of the after-school program, you would continue by sharing your short and long-term goals for the program. Examples would be:
- Recruit 5 more volunteers by the end of the year
- Service 20 youth in each class by 2020
- Expand program to run 4 days a week by 2021
3) Recognize that we are stronger together … community partnerships are important.
The Pollination Project believes that community-originated solutions are often the most impactful, and the more you can demonstrate that your project is part of a larger community initiative, the more attractive your grant proposal will be.
In the example of the after-school program above, if you were able to make connections to a local school or community center where the classes could be held, your application would be stronger.
4) Have a plan of sustainability.
We want to support projects that are going to both succeed in the long-term and have outcomes that ripple out into the community and world at large. With that in mind, think about how your project will be impacted once the funds are exhausted and how you will be able to continue the work. Our grantmaking team will be looking for a clear plan which shows how you intend to fund the work that you carry out using this grant, if awarded.
A good plan of sustainability would include a realistic knowledge of different opportunities to support your work, including both financial support and non-financial, in-kind support. This could include funding sources such as other foundations, crowdfunding, or other ways of generating income such as the sale of goods, which would be invested back into the project. You would also provide realistic estimates for your plan and let us know what you have done so far to research, apply for, or secure ongoing support for your work.
In the example of the after-school program, you could list other non-profit or governmental organizations that you’ve researched and have applied for additional funding or highlight resources that are being given to you, such as program supplies or a meeting space.
5) Remember our values!
The Pollination Project does not support projects which directly conflict with our mission and values, such as those that involve the farming of any animals or the use of animal products of any kind – including, but not limited to, meat, dairy, leather, and wool. We also cannot support projects which use GMO seeds; synthetic/chemical fertilizers; and/or pesticides, fungicides, and other similar products which are harmful to the environment and to those who use them.
By following these 5 tips, you’ll create a more compelling grant application. Good luck!