Sections of this topic

    Every day, thousands of non-profit organizations, believing that their financial problems are soon to be over, generate/send proposals that receive, at best, a brief reading.

    Contrary to popular belief and unlike the grants Mr. Question-Mark touts in the TV ads, grants to non-profit organizations are not free money. Grants come with a variety of obligations. Corporations, foundations, and government agencies don’t just give it away. It takes more than mailing applications and waiting for the checks to arrive.

    To Get Funded, you must know how to tell your story. You need a well-written narrative that tells:
    • How and why and by whom your organization was created;
    • The community needs you have been serving and/or intend to serve;
    • Why there is a need to create/expand your program, and how you will do that;
    • How successful you’ve been; and,
    • Specific funding needs for all aspects of your operation.

    The vast majority of grantors want to see your audited financial reports and your budgets. They want to know where the rest of your funding is from, and you will need to prove that you are fiscally responsible, can be trusted, and that you operate in a business-like manner.

    Funders want to know who your leaders are — trustees, volunteers, and staff. And, they want to see if/how those people are financially supporting the organization.

    You must also be able to tell the funders:
    • How your mission/project(s) meets their guidelines;
    • How your mission/project(s) will make a significant difference to the community;
    • How their funding will help create a project/program that will become self-sustaining; (Remember, most funders don’t want to adopt you. Funding is designed to help you create something. You’ll then have to learn how to generate the ongoing funding by yourselves.) and,
    • In the case of corporate funding, how the relationship will benefit the corporation — how it will impact their bottom line.

    Have a question about starting or expanding your fundraising program? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll work to answer your question.