Grant Writing is always difficult and competitive. In a pandemic or other emergency situation, it can seem outright impossible! During emergencies, grant writers are tasked to make their proposals stand out and shine within a context of great global urgency and scant resources.
That does not mean you cannot still win grants, only that you have to try harder.
Here are 6 tips to make your grant proposals stand out amidst increased competition during coronavirus or any pandemic.
1. Address the Pandemic First Thing in Your Grant Text
Make sure your proposal, first thing in the initial abstract or summary, acknowledges the pandemic. Too many nonprofits are recycling their old requests and spitting them out to new potential funders without revising the funding request.
This makes you seem unprepared at best. It can also seem like you are not considering the fact that decision-making for grants has become incredibly challenging.
- We know that the COVID pandemic is creating a strain on funding resources and appreciate your consideration.
- COVID has been especially hard on our program recipients because…
- We have already seen a decrease in revenue from our individual donor base and need additional community support to get us through COVID.
2. Demonstrate the Urgency of Your Cause
It is always important to make the case that funding for your work is urgent. During a pandemic, it is mandatory. You will not receive funding if you cannot show that your work is critical, right now.
- Our work is always critical, but now during the COVID pandemic crisis we have become the sole lifeline for our community.
- We have seen a two-fold increase in requests for program support while our donor base has reduced.
- If we do not replace our lost earned income revenue from having to close our community coffee shop for 4 months, we will have to start letting staff go.
3. Outline Your Contingency Plan in the Grant
If your work is not particularly urgent during the coronavirus, that does not mean it is unimportant. But you do need to show that you have thought through your contingency for service delivery. Also, you need to show that the funding is still important to receive, right now, to be able to deliver your programs in the future. Here are a few examples.
- We might have to push back delivery of our school-based programs to the new year, but we want to be poised to “double down” when we can indeed recommence.
- We need to have X amount of funding in place by the end of the year to be able to plan our spring and summer programming. X number of children will miss out otherwise and fall even further behind on their cognitive development.
- While we cannot deliver our full programming schedule, we are working to adapt at least part of it to virtual platforms to reach those most in need.
4. Show that You Have Already Applied Frugality and Adaptability
Every nonprofit and organization in the world is making difficult decisions right now, streamlining budgets, program and staff. You need to show that you have done the same!
- We already applied our organizational needs assessment and are streamlining our operations in the coming year.
- We sold one of our 3 retreat centers to create an emergency reserve fund to mitigate a potential loss in donations.
- We are working to transition our 2 major fundraising events to online, virtual fundraisers to save on costs and make them more sustainable.
5. Prove that You are Working Together with Other Organizations
Show that you are being creative and pooling resources with others in your community to get through these difficult times. The question about working with collaborators is now not only commonplace but standard in grant proposals.
To stand out, do not just say “we partner with X, X, and X.” Say HOW you partner with X, X and X to maximize your individual efforts. For examples:
- We work with 3 different local schools to maximize our marketing efforts and pool our volunteer resources.
- We partner with X lodge to share office space and cut our operating costs in half.
- In our collaboration, X and X provide the scientific expertise while we contribute our educational expertise, offering a holistic community-based service.
6. Be Sincere and Emotional in Your Grant Proposal
This is the time to make an emotional appeal, even in an academic grant proposal. Try as hard as you can to be sincere and evoke an emotional response, on a personal or communal level. Add video or written testimonials as well!
- I have worked my entire life in this field and have never felt such an urgency.
- It means wonders to the people that we serve, though seemingly a few, to be able to access these courses for free (add video or written testimonial).
- In times like these, just the little bit of hope we can offer families means so much to them.
In summary, make your proposal stand out and you will likely still have a good chance at success. You want to be honest about how the pandemic is affecting you and what your plans are to address it. Do not ignore the problem or overstate it, but outline how you are adapting and why it is urgent you receive consideration for a grant amongst hundreds of others!
Learn more about grants here.