Grant Proposals Tell Stories & Donor-Centered Planned Giving

Sections of this topic

    1. April 27th was National Tell a Story Day
    by Jayme Sokolow

    What, you may ask, is the connection between National Tell a Story Day and grant proposals? A great deal, at least from my perspective.

    Stories are universal because we use stories to create meaning. When you cite a statistic or make an argument, often your listener’s eyes glaze over. But when you tell a good story, you engage, entertain, and make a point.

    Although grant guidelines often make sustained storytelling difficult in proposals, there are always opportunities for short stories or anecdotes to help support your argument(s).

    When you tell stories in proposals, you engage reviewers just as you do when you chat with colleagues at the office or talk with friends over dinner.

    I recommend that you follow these six tips for telling better stories in your proposals. They are based on a recent Grammerly post on “Storytelling 101” that appeared in the May 5, 2014, Huffington Post.

    Show, Don’t Tell: Don’t just tell the reviewer what to think – paint a vivid picture through a good story and your point will be richer and more impactful.

    Be Specific: Engaging stories provide their readers with vivid details. Tell a good story in your proposal by providing rich details, and making your point come alive.

    Engage the senses: In your proposals, tell stories that engage all the senses. Make a point and be as vivid as possible without becoming florid.

    Be concise: Cut out unnecessary words, avoid repetition, and get to the point quickly. Your distracted reviewers will appreciate it.

    Cut out most of the adverbs and be sparing with adjectives: Don’t rely too much on words that end with “ly” (adverbs) or modifiers (adjectives).

    Proofread: Nothing destroys confidence in a story or a proposal like too many typos and grammatical errors. Proofread carefully.

    Stories can engage those busy reviewers who are easily distracted. Tell a story that holds the reader/reviewer, and your grant proposals will become more compelling.

    Dr. Jayme Sokolow, founder, and president of The Development Source, Inc.,
    helps nonprofit organizations develop
    successful proposals to government agencies
    Contact Jayme Sokolow.
    Look for Jayme’s ebook on
    Finding & Getting Federal Government Grants.
    It’s part of
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks
    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

    2. Donor-Centered Planned Giving – Part II
    by John Elbare

    Look at your donor stewardship process and imagine how it feels to be a donor to your organization. Are they thanked promptly and properly? Are they kept informed about your service goals and results? Are they invited to tour your facility or meet with your CEO? Are you doing everything you can to help them feel part of the mission?

    A good way to measure how well you are building relationships with your donors is to measure your donor lapse rate. It should go down as you improve your stewardship. The lower your donor lapse rate, the more loyal donors you will develop, and planned gifts are made mostly by loyal donors. You need to grow your base of loyal donors.

    Next, keep an eye on your growing pool of loyal donors and look for opportunities to begin cultivating relationships on a personal basis. You can do this by visiting with them, learning about their concerns and values, understanding why they care about your mission, and then – when the time is right – propose a planned gift idea that is perfectly aligned with their values and charitable goals.

    Done this way, planned giving becomes routine and productive. Your donors will appreciate the opportunity to help in a significant way.

    The hardest part is getting your own organization to understand the value planned giving and the need to invest in it now for donations that will arrive several years in the future.

    Done right, planned giving is not a side-line to the other fund development activities. Instead, planned giving is the big prize that is earned at the end of the donor development process. Get your organization to understand the donor development process, and you will finally be on a clear path toward raising the all the funds your organization needs.

    John Elbare, CFP, has spent the last 30 years helping non-profits raise more money
    through large, planned gifts. He shows them how to add
    an effective planned giving strategy to their current fund raising effort
    without a lot of extra expense or staff.

    You can contact him at John Elbare, CFP .
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks?

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

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