But even when using a standard application, it’s still important to target your request to the foundation’s mission and current funding priorities. Otherwise, you commit the same faux pas as a job applicant who writes one cover letter and sends it out to 20 employers. They can tell, and it doesn’t work.
Choosing your Funder
- When you’re deciding what funder to submit a proposal to, it’s important to read their funding requirements, current priorities, and their mission. Make sure that your request aligns with their larger mission.
Where do I address this?
- Some funders have a specific section to address this. For example, the Philanthropy Northwest Common Grant Application, which is used by funders throughout Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming, includes a section that entitles “Appropriateness to the Funder’s Mission.” Here, you explain how your project or program meets this particular funder’s guidelines and criteria
- Even if the application does not include this section, you still need to address. You can weave in language throughout your application that refers to their mission and demonstrates your alignment. (For example: “Like the XYZ foundation, we are working to make the world a more just place. The proposed program does so by….”)
- Either way, make it clear that you’ve done your homework on the foundation and determined that you’re a good fit.
Most importantly, remember that foundations have missions too. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that foundations exist just to give out money. Don’t forget that they, like your organizations, are driven by a mission and are seeking to make a positive difference in areas that they find important. As an applicant, you need to make the case to them that your work helps achieve their mission. Ultimately, a successful grant proposal pitches that you have something to offer them.
This is the sixth in an eight-part series on grant writing from Aril Consulting.