Capacity Building Grants 101 (Part III)

(Just a heads up that this blog post is part of a series. If you have not already done so, make sure you read Capacity Building Grants 101 (Parts I and II) to find out more about Capacity Building Grants).

Hey everyone,

We’ve finally made it to Part III which centers all around best practices for writing Capacity Building Grants. I am going to break this one down into 3 parts, all are key to building an ideal Capacity Building Grant proposal. In order to put together a successful proposal, you have to Know Your Organization, Know Your Community, and Know Your Commitment Level.

What does it mean to know my organization?

Sit down with your board and dig deep! Ask yourself and your board, what is it about your nonprofit that makes it the best at what it does, or at least on that trajectory? What need does your nonprofit fill? Why do you need funding right now? All are important questions that a prospective funder will ask. If possible show what you’ve already done successfully by demonstrating results- bring in anecdotes and surveys from participants, and letters of support, to show what you are doing is working! Once you know what you are doing differently, start thinking about what you want your goals to be for the upcoming Fiscal Year.

Know Your Community:

Once you have expressed, from both your plan in Part I and organizational self-assessment in Part II, your plan moving forward, make sure to review where you can involve others in the community. Funders love to see collaboration efforts, whether it be between your organization and another nonprofit, your org and an underserved community, or your org and some established funders. I have a client that is a theatre that offers showings free to the community, to allow those that are otherwise not able to pay, to be able to attend. Another client of mine lets girls participate on “need-based scholarship” to help girls in underserved communities have the opportunity to participate in their after-school program. Beyond just providing money to a nonprofit, funders want to know they are helping to build a legacy, that you are building something that will provide for generations. When thinking about expansion, consider community expansion as well.

How do I know what my commitment level is?

A lot of funders want to know not only that you are committed to moving forward on the growth goals you are proposing, but also that there is efficacy tracking, and that there is a sustainability plan. If you are going to promise surveys, make sure that you can follow through on this, even if it means delegating this process out (I do make surveys for a couple of my clients!) and that you are analyzing the data. If you see something that is going right in your organization, like a certain part of your after-school program curriculum that really makes the difference for your teens that participate, bring that out and really capitalize on growing that, and be able to point to what specifically is going right. If you are going to make a position self-sustaining, or be able to pay rent a year later for a facility they might be helping you out with, make sure you have a concrete plan for other donors, fundraising and partnerships you can obtain to keep this going. Bottom line: don’t over-promise and under deliver. It’s important you represent what you can do, and make your organization look good, don’t over-extend yourself!

Janet Gonzales