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New Year, New Narrative

Kick off 2022 with a Strong Grant Narrative

Welcome to 2022! I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions, but I recently read an article that suggested doing away with resolutions and instead choosing your own theme for the new year.

This resonates with me. I have so many ideas of things I want to accomplish in every aspect of my life (work, family, self, spiritual, etc.) but sometimes life happens, and I don’t get to them all. Instead of feeling like I’ve failed, I appreciate that I can choose my theme and accomplish what I’m able to as long as it connects back to my theme. If I choose to do so, I'll revisit those ideas using next year's theme.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that my theme for 2022 is COMMIT. Why commit? Well, that's personal, but one of my goals is to commit more time to helping nonprofits achieve their fundraising goals even if they aren’t able to hire dedicated support professionals. With that in mind, I’ve decided that for the first several months of 2022, I am going to be offering a blog series called “New Year, New Narrative”.

In my work, I have come across many nonprofits that submit grants without really understanding what is needed to make an application technically strong (of course, relationship building is one way to strengthen an application and those tips can be found in this past blog post). And honestly, sometimes a weak proposal happens simply because the nonprofit team doesn’t fully understand the components of a grant proposal. So, for the next several months (I haven’t decided yet how many months so stick with me), I’m going to take us through some tips on strengthening your grant narrative.

Before we begin, you need to determine the type of grant you’re submitting – program or project. What’s the difference?

Project-based grant proposals:

  • Focused on requests that benefit a specific project (playground, art supplies, etc.)

  • Funding is restricted

  • Often requires significant input from staff as project requests aren’t always able to be duplicated (depending on the size of the project)

  • Can be difficult to determine the needs and outcomes for a project

  • Because of the focus on the moment, can be hard to show long-term impact

Program-based grant proposals:

  • Focused on requests that benefit an ongoing program (providing case management to prevent homelessness, youth empowerment afterschool program, etc.)

  • Easier to obtain unrestricted funding that will benefit the entire program (and yes, this includes salaries!)

  • May require more program staff input during the beginning stages, but not as much going forward (I also like to create grant templates for ease of request duplication)

  • Funders are more likely to invest in a well-supported program than a project that may or may not continue past the initial funding

  • Easier to determine and provide data to support the needs, outcomes, and budget of a program (and show the impact of the program now and in the future)

Take some time this month to determine which type of grant you are submitting and if it's really working for your organization. Obviously, every funder and organization is different, but by making the switch to program-based grant requests, I have increased my award rate, thus increasing the impact my clients are having in their communities.

Hope you will stop back here on February 1st for the next installment in the “New Year, New Narrative” blog series!!


If you need some assistance with your organization's grant program, reach out to me to schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation to start the conversation about your needs and if I might be able to help (either through coaching or writing).


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Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant Jessica
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