I recently had the opportunity to attend a roundtable meeting in which employees from various granting organizations came to speak. They shared what they look for in a successful application and some tips that will definitely increase your chances of writing a successful proposal or application.
Here you have it, tips from the gatekeepers themselves.
First of all, the importance of community involvement was mentioned. There’s no better way to get involved than being a voice and instrument of change. Familiarize yourself with your local/municipal government. Build relationships with counselors and MP’s and attend meetings to share your opinion. The more you’re involved in the change process, the more committed you appear to your cause.
Another buzz word that was tossed around frequently was partnerships. I remember someone saying, matter-of-factly, that if your organization doesn’t have any partnerships, there’s a BIG problem. No partnerships displays poor leadership. These relationships signal to granting bodies that you are a team player. You are looking at creative solutions and using local resources in order to solve the problem.
Another area that granting bodies spend time assessing is your board of directors (BOD). What they are looking for? They look at your BOD to determine sustainability and diversity. Do the members normally complete a full term (given your organizations terms of reference) or is turnover high? Diversity on the board is also important. You want your board to somewhat reflect the diverse community of individuals your organization is serving. And of course a diverse collection of skills and capabilities among members should be present.
Lastly, something general you should take note of includes industry trends. Each year there are usually specific areas or problems that granting bodies want to focus their funding efforts on. Whether that be gender equality or traditionally marginalized groups. Make sure you’re aware of these trends to avoid missed opportunities for your organization. Before you invest your time and energy into preparing a 10 page proposal or application, consider these areas of focus. Improvement in these areas might just be the difference between receiving funding or not.