1. Wrong Organization: Non-Profit organizations and Private Foundations want to know that an individual has thought about their funding needs and how their interests match up. Choosing the correct foundation can be a snap if you can find it. The biggest challenge to day is locating these organizations and contacting them in a professional manner. Grant Seeker Pro makes this a no-brainer with our one of a kind online application creator.
2. Follow the Instructions!!! In our book Grant Seeker Pro we repeatedly show you examples of proposals where the individual was given a specific set of instructions to follow and they either misunderstood, decided they had a better way or just decided not to follow instructions. These people will not be approved.
3. Deadlines: After an initial contact is made with an organization and they decide that they want additional information from you then there is no excuse not to provide within the time frame given.
4. Outcomes not provided: Government funders, foundations and corporate donors are increasingly asking non-profits to demonstrate the potential outcomes or benefits of their grant proposal. Besides showing the direct benefit or your work, include information about the positive impact on the community as a whole, as well as any potential benefits for the future.
5. Duplication of service: Being unique is one of those intangibles that sparks the interest of donors, so you must attempt to differentiate or distinguish yourself from other service providers. Outline clearly how your programs differ from others; present any unique demographic or constituencies you represent; detail changes to your program over time; and explain how the funds will help to address emerging social needs.
6. Blanket proposals or fishing expeditions: These kinds of proposals tell a funder that you don't care about their time or background - and grant officers are expert at spotting them. Granters donate, they do not speculate.
7. Sustainability not anticipated: Every class of donor wants to see that some thought, planning and strategic analysis has been undertaken that shows your organization is aiming for greater self-sufficiency. Sustainability runs parallel to the development of funding relationships and partnerships. Many donors will ask flat out: how do you plan to sustain this initiative over time?
8. Unrealistic expectations: A non-profit organization needs to assess which foundation is more likely to fund larger requests. A small foundation may have a history of giving grants in the $5,000 range. This would not be the right foundation to ask for a million dollars. It also takes time to build an ongoing relationship with a donor, particularly when you're asking for a great deal of money. Just because your cause is important does not make your organization their highest funding priority.
9. Inaccurate, vague or generally poor writing: Errors in financial accounting, for example, gravely undermine your credibility. Vague or inaccurate proposals also make it difficult for a grant officer to review and evaluate your proposal, even though they may see huge value in what you do. Try to keep in mind that a successful proposal will engage the reader and hold their interest, while demonstrating a compelling reason why your organization should be supported.
10.No donor recognition: Many donors - particularly corporate donors - will want to know how their contribution will be appreciated or recognized. This increases their confidence that recognition for their contribution will be forthcoming. Overlooking donor recognition is one of the most common and easy to avoid errors.
BIG Picture: Few things in this world are guaranteed. But one thing is certain: avoid the pitfalls of the Top 10 and you will dramatically increase your grant proposal success ratio.
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