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Has Anyone Ever Written A Grant Proposal?


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I am a client at a nonprofit that serves mainly the homeless and the formerly homeless (I fall in the latter category). One of the services they offer is free use of clothes washers and dryers.

 

If you don’t think that’s important, just think about the last time you sat on public transit and the stench reached you several rows away as soon as a reeking homeless person got on. If you had an extremely limited or no income, would you prioritize food or laundry?

 

 

The machines that the facility has are old, inefficient and often break down due to heavy use (as well as some abuse). They really need to replace them with industrial-grade machines that are energy efficient.

 

There is a major oil refinery in the area that likes to brag about all the good the company does for the area. Jobs, employee volunteering, and grant making. This is to counter decades of bad publicity from refinery fires, chemical releases, attempts at meddling with local politics, and the general bad image of the entire oil industry.

 

They do fund a lot of programs in the area, including the Rescue Mission I stayed at frequently when I was homeless and an interfaith religious charity that also assisted me. They brag about a 3D printer lab they donated to a high school too. But the nonprofit I go to for therapy is not one of those organizations.

 

 

I would like to try writing a Grant Proposal, but I’ve never done one before. No one at the nonprofit seems to have written one either. I was told you need to have special training in the art of Grant Writing.

 

Has anyone else done it? How difficult is it to do?

 

 

When I first became homeless, I applied for Social Security Disability benefits by myself because I thought that’s how it’s done. I later found out that several of the nonprofits I used have people on staff who were specifically trained on Social Security benefits applications and that you weren’t supposed to apply without knowing what keywords and phrases to use. I was told I probably wouldn’t win my case since I didn’t have the training to do it..

 

But, I guess I did okay because I eventually did win my case (Depression and Anxiety).

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It depends on the request and the potential donor. My suggestion's to contact the company first, find out what department or person would handle a request for funding, and contact them. Do so before sending in anything. They may have specific guidelines you may need to follow. A cold request is often ignored or can get lost in bureaucracy.

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It depends on the request and the potential donor. My suggestion's to contact the company first, find out what department or person would handle a request for funding, and contact them. Do so before sending in anything. They may have specific guidelines you may need to follow. A cold request is often ignored or can get lost in bureaucracy.

 

I had already planned to do that.

 

Are there certain phrases or terms that work better than others? Does a non-college graduate with a collegiate-level vocabulary have any chance of success?

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I had already planned to do that.

 

Are there certain phrases or terms that work better than others? Does a non-college graduate with a collegiate-level vocabulary have any chance of success?

Unless they have specific guidelines, Id' keep it reasonably short. Introduce yourself and the organization, tell them how much you're asking for and what you plan to do with the money, and then tell them what they'll get in exchange (good publicity, the laundry room being named after them, their name being mentioned in newsletters/websites.or anything else you can think of.) Be positive and respectful. Remember you want something from them and they have no obligation to help. We used to joke it was institutional begging whenever we requested money from another organization.

 

Forget the college education bit. It's irrelevant as long as you can communicate clearly and concisely.

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Drought,

 

I have never been involved with the grant process directly, but what Carlos said is point on.  I was involved with grants being reviewed and authorized for public safety improvement, fire departments specificly.  One of my best friends was on the review board that met in DC twice a year to grant millions of (don't kill the messenger) federal dollars to small fire departments around the nation.  What he told me was that the applicants that included a short simple description of the needs went much farther than the formal application.  Now this was federal money so the formal paperwork had to be there and match the specific requirements for that grant session, IE: safety equipment, communications equipment, public education etc...  But the short personal. well writen adders made the choices much easier for him.  He wanted to help people, not government.  What I am saying is to contact the company and see what, if any, requirements they have.  Be honest and friendly and do your best to comply with any specifics they have.  Write a short, but specific request with a detailed description of how the money will be spent.  Ask how and/or offer to recognise the generosity of the company.  Like Carlos said, name part of the facility, newsletters, web pages, simple posters saying THANKS COMPANY XXX for their aid, etc...  A small amount of  honest action can carry you many miles.  Good Luck, and let us know the outcome :).

Edited by wenmale64
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Yes- I have written great many.

 

In my experience, grant proposals mean absolutely nothing. I have never actually seen any evidence that grant proposals are ever actually read or their merits considered.

 

Grants get funded based on a complex formula that includes family relations, in-laws, political cronies, old fraternity brothers and whether or not the granting authority, be it university, state or congressional, thinks the research or project is cool. 

 

Then the lucky project is funded for 25% of the requested funds so that it will fail completely.

 

Good luck. 

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Drought,

 

I have never been infolved with the grant process directly, but what Carlos said is point on.  I was involved with grants being reviewed and authorized for public safety improvement, fire departments specificly.  One of my best friends was on the review board that met in DC twice a year to grant millions of (don't kill the messenger) federal dollars to small fire departments around the nation.  What he told me was that the applicants that included a short simple description of the needs went much farther than the formal application.  Now this was federal money so the formal paperwork had to be there and match the specific requirements for that grant session, IE: safety equipment, communications equipment, public education etc...  But the short personal. well writen adders made the choices much easier for him.  He wanted to help people, not government.  What I am saying is to contact the company and see what, if any, requirements they have.  Be honest and friendly and do your best to comply with any specifics they have.  Write a short, but specific request with a detailed description of how the money will be spent.  Ask how and/or offer to recognise the generosity of the company.  Like Carlos said, name part of the facility, newsletters, web pages, simple posters saying THANKS COMPANY XXX for their aid, etc...  A small amount of  honest action can carry you many miles.  Good Luck, and let us know the outcome :).

 

I am only a client, not a staff member, so there isn’t much I can offer the company.

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Well, I did this free thingy: http://marketplace.foundationcenter.org/Training/Self-Paced-eLearning

 

I'm just jumping into the pond of grant/proposal writing, specifically in the area of historical preservation and historical societies. So my experience may be different because the audience is - historical societies usually don't have any money and their benefactors do, but they tend to be very localized in interest.

 

The course I linked is pretty basic, but goes through what a lot of organizations want when they get a proposal from a nonprofit. Might be worth it for you to take a look.

 

They also have an online course in proposal writing for $225.00. I haven't taken that leap, but based on the content of the free one, they sure want me to!

 

Good luck!

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Drought,

 

As a client you can still talk with the staff and administration and give them your thoughts.  View this as research and pay it forward.  With the approval of the appropriate people, you could write out the proposal and let them read, sign and forward to the company.  Grants are very often overlooked because people feel they either don't have the time or don't know how to do exactly what you have inquired about.  You now have a bit of insight.  Step forward my friend  :).

Edited by wenmale64
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Drought,

 

As a client you can still talk with the staff and administration and give them your thoughts.  View this as research and pay it forward.  With the approval of the appropriate people, you could write out the proposal and let them read, sign and forward to the company.  Grants are very often overlooked because people feel they either don't have the time or don't know how to do exactly what you have inquired about.  You now have a bit of insight.  Step forward my friend  :).

 

That’s pretty much what I planned to do.

 

The staff at the nonprofit I use are not the most educated people out there. They have all pretty much had the same background, moving from homeless client with minimal training to staff (GED, with Community College a slight possibility). This is typical of most of the staff at the organizations I dealt with as a homeless person. The two exceptions being government agencies (probably community college graduates) and religious groups where a small handful have a much more advanced education with one being a Doctor of Divinity. My self education is wider and deeper than the majority of them.

 

 

I have moderate confidence in my ability to successfully apply. Aside from the doctoral candidates who provide psychological therapy and their supervisor, I am the best educated at that location by far, clients included.

 

 

Having someone who has dealt with addiction and homelessness is a big help when dealing with most of the clients. They can read bs with their eyes closed.

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Thank you all for your considerate and helpful responses.

 

 

Now I just have to overcome one of my longterm mental disabilities (procrastination, doubt, anxiety, and depression) and do more research on what they require. ;-)

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