The Hidden Benefits of Proposals
Why write proposals? The reason may seem obvious: You want to implement a new program, add services, or hire more staff, and you don’t have the money in your budget. In short, you need grant funds to grow. Here’s a not-so-obvious reason: You want to get your whole staff thinking about where you’re headed as an organization.
Remember the movie “Field of Dreams”? When writing proposals, a lot of organizations engage in wishful thinking—a “build-it-and-they-will come” approach. While this approach may work on the big screen, smart organizations get crystal clear first on what they will do to achieve their mission and deliver important services. They engage in solid project planning before going off in search of funds.
6 Benefits of Writing Proposals
If you write proposals in conjunction with strategic planning, grant writing can yield tremendous benefits for your organization even before your projects are funded. Here are some of the ways grant writing can help your organization do what it does best:
1. Increase clarity. As a part of your strategic plan, grant writing can be an integral part of your growth. Not only is it a way to secure funds, it can enhance your role in your community and your vision for the future.
2. Encourage staff participation. The grant-writing process requires team collaboration. As you gather the collective wisdom of your staff members, you increase their commitment to new projects and project outcomes. Grant writing can bring your staff and board members together, building a working environment of cooperation and team effectiveness.
3. Build partnerships. Many of today’s funders insist on broad-based project collaboration and frown on duplication of services, As a result, you must reach out to other community nonprofits that are working toward the cause you share in common. This process is a great opportunity to meet others who support your work and who will be willing to contribute concretely to your strategic ends.
4. Prepare for additional fundraising. Grant writing should be a part of your organization’s overall fundraising plan. Foundations frequently want to see evidence of other forms of fundraising—such as donor solicitation, events, and fee-based income—to ensure the long-term project sustainability. Additionally, a proposal for capacity building is more likely to receive funding if your organization can demonstrate it has successfully carried out a grant-funded project in the past.
5. Gain exposure. As you reach out to stakeholders and build alliances, your organization gains credibility and exposure in the community at-large. New and old community members get a chance to learn about you.
6. Ensure future success. Grant writing enhances your growth and ongoing strategic planning by enabling your organization to reach objectives and focus attention on outcomes. Having detailed your project’s methods and measurement tools in advance, you build accountability into every step of your work.
Planning for Success
When you integrate grant writing into your agency’s day-to-day work, there is no such thing as an unsuccessful proposal. Every proposal becomes a useful planning document that helps you further your mission. As a bonus, your finished proposal serves as a detailed template for project implementation once you receive funding.