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Grant Proposals Must Promote Funders Goals, Not Yours, in Grant Writing Fund Raising

The bad news about grant proposal writing is that grant makers will never fund what you want them to. They only fund what they want to fund.

They fund projects that further their mission.

They fund initiatives that meet their priorities.

They don't award grants because they have money to give away. They award grants because they have goals to attain.

Which means the biggest mistake you can make as a non-profit organization seeking a grant is asking grant makers to fund something they will never fund. Doing so wastes a tremendous amount of your time and little of theirs because your proposal will land in the shredder without delay.

Here are a few of the reasons that grant makers have given for why a grant proposal failed to meet their criteria:

  1. "The organization does not meet our priorities." Avoid this one by researching what the grant maker's priorities are.

  • "The organization is not located in our geographic area of funding." This rejection is easy to avoid. Read the guidelines before applying.

  • "The proposed budget is not within our funding range." Avoid this rejection by examining the size of grants that the grant maker has awarded to similar organizations.

  • The majority of sources for grants (governments, foundations, corporations and individuals) know who they will give money to and who they won't, and they've done you a favour by putting their bias in writing. A little homework (or a lot) will tell you:

    • who can apply for funds
    • how to apply
    • how the money must be spent
    • how the grant maker will evaluate your proposal

    Remember, just because a funder has money to give away in grants doesn't mean your project or organization will get any. Your project, however innovative or necessary, will not receive a penny of funding from a funder whose interests and goals do not match yours.

    About the author
    Alan Sharpe publishes Direct Mail Fundraising Today, the free, weekly email newsletter that helps non-profit organizations raise funds, build relationships and retain loyal donors. Alan is the author of Breakthrough Fundraising Letters and 25 handbooks on direct mail fundraising. Alan is also a speaker and workshop leader who delivers public seminars and teleseminars on direct mail fundraising. Sign up for Alan's newsletter at

    2007 Alan Sharpe. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the "About the author" message).