Successful Grant Proposals

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8).

Israel wanted to know how they could please God. Would he be satisfied with burnt offerings of year-old calves (Micah 6:6b), or thousands of rams “with ten thousand rivers of olive oil” (Micah 6:7a)? They even asked if they should offer their firstborn sons as a sacrifice to God (Micah 6:7b). What exactly did God want from them? The answer to their sin problem wasn’t more religion but changed hearts, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.”
Submitting grant proposals can be intimidating. What does the foundation require in their grant application? Are there any magic words to guarantee a positive response? Should you submit the results of your last physical and a note from your doctor? Would including photos of your children increase your chances? Grant makers are interested in these five items

Share the problem.
Some problems are easy to understand. The prophet Agabus foretold of a great famine spreading throughout the whole world (see Acts 11:27-30). Natural disasters cause people to dig a little deeper because the needs are so great. Your problem might not make the headlines, but it may be even more critical. “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11).

Share your plan to address the problem (activity).
Their solution was straightforward. “The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea” (Acts 17:29). Your solution has three possible elements (1) people, (2) program, or (3) property. Your plan must make business sense.

Share why this activity will make a difference (relevance).
Relevant strategies are helpful and on point. The disciple sent their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. Foundations want to know you have the strategy and capacity to accomplish your goal. It’s not enough just to have activity, you must produce results. What data will prove your solution works?

Share what you expect to happen because of your activity (impact).
Foundations are outcome-focused and want their grants to be catalysts for change. Your outcome isn’t the new building or even the new program, it’s how these tools will produce tangible results in the lives of those you serve.

Share a specific request.
Foundations want to know what you want. They are not the expert on your issue you, you are. Ask for a specific amount. They might not give that amount, but they want a number. A good rule of thumb is to not ask for more than 10% of the goal. Thankfully, there are exceptions to every rule.

Think About This: Treat grant makers like major donors and seek to reach out to them personally. Your personal touch might lift your proposal to the top of the list.

Response: Father, please give me wisdom to navigate our foundation strategy. Help me identify and approach the foundations whose giving interest aligns with our mission.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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