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Mission Matters Insights

Avoiding Inconsistencies in Nonprofit Grant Proposals

November 28, 2014

The first glimpse potential funders have of your nonprofit---and it could be the last if you are not careful!

Successful grant proposals depend on thorough planning and attention to detail. Potential donors will be looking for any inconsistencies—glaring mistakes make funders question the reliability of your proposal, and moreover the dependability of your nonprofit organization as a whole.

5 Areas where issues are likely to arise:

  1. The program plan- Be sure to limit the amount of people planning and drafting the proposal. Having too many people contributing directly to the set-up of the proposal will result in numerous titles used for the same staff position, ideas that don’t correlate with program outcomes, numbers and projected quantities that vary between paragraphs, etc. It is vital to have various opinions and viewpoints, but when it comes to actually writing the proposal, stick to one writer-it will prevent inconsistencies in the final document.
  2. Statistics- Make sure all your data lines up. Double check to make sure that you have all the right numbers, and take time to ensure that one figure does not contradict another. Make sure the numbers are consistent throughout the entire document.
  3. Budget- If you make adjustments to the budget right before the proposal goes out don’t forget to alter the document accordingly! The reviewer will have a hard time reading through your proposal if numbers vary throughout the different sections of the document. Make sure that there are CLEAR dollar amounts for the requested grant, the total project cost, matching contributions, and the organizational budget.
  4. Information placement- Your proposal should read easily and flow in a consistent manner. Reviewers will notice when information that should be in one section shows up in another. If you are discussing the problem that the grant will hopefully fix, stick to outlining the problem—don’t wander off to discuss the program that will fix it.
  5. Writing technique- Much like proper placement of information, your writing style should be clear and consistent. Keep an active voice through the proposal—don’t change midway from first person to third person, for example. Your proposal will be more influential if you stick to a confident active voice.

Be sure to review!

Potential funders will sometimes find inconsistencies and immediately reject your proposal altogether—don’t bank on the funders allowing you to correct the discrepancies. Be sure to correct any errors or irregularities in your budget outline or statistical analysis. Confirm that you have all the necessary information that a potential funder will need to make a decision about your proposal. Above all make sure your program goal is clearly outlined and that all your succeeding information pertains to this objective!

Questions? Contact any member of our Not-for-profit Services Team.

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