There are many nonprofit organizations in your community who continuously seek funds to stay afloat.
As a life scientist, you have acquired most of the skills needed to successfully write a grant for a nonprofit. These include, researching, writing, editing and proofreading skills. But, where do you start? In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share some tips that will help you get started.
Know the nonprofits in your area. There are several websites that list hundreds of established US-based nonprofits. In my area, Great Nonprofits is a nonprofit organization itself, which represents the largest database of first-person stories about nonprofit organizations in Philly, and in nearby cities.
You can filter your search by issues such as Cancer, Bullying, Education, Immigration etc. You do not have to live in Philadelphia to learn about these nonprofits. Browse the list on their website, see the ratings, read the reviews.
Is there an organization that resonates with you? Carefully read their mission. Learn about the board members. Read as many reviews as possible. Learn about their needs.
What problem are they trying to solve? Not all nonprofits have their full mission statement on their websites. You may need to contact the organization directly to learn more about their mission.
To learn about the mission of one nonprofit in my community, I just walked into the office and started chatting with the receptionist. I commended them for what they are doing in the community, and stated that I’ll like to learn more about their goals. I briefly mentioned my background in grant writing.
The point? When it comes to nonprofits in your community, walk-ins can take you a long way. If your interpersonal skills are not that great, now is the time to start working on them.
Research grant makers. Now that you know the needs of your potential nonprofit, do some research on potential grant makers. Know their goals and objectives. What are their priorities? Who have they funded? Is geographical location a factor? What kind of projects do they fund? What are the eligibility criteria?
Write an inquiry letter to your nonprofit. This letter is different from an inquiry letter written to a grant maker, which, in essence, is a preliminary proposal (more on this in future posts).
In your letter of inquiry to your nonprofit, your aim is to convince the organization that you understand their needs. Offer to email your resume or CV. Do not include an attachment to a letter of inquiry. They may not open that email. Always wait for the green light before emailing an attachment.
If you have a writing sample, any writing piece you have written or contributed to, offer to email it to them. In your letter of inquiry, highlight the skills that qualify you for the task (researching, writing, editing and proofreading). End by stating you’ll like to meet with them to learn more about their needs.
Prepare for the informational meeting. Whether you get a face-to-face meeting or a telephone interview, be prepared. Review what you’ve learned about the nonprofit and the prospective grant maker. Anticipate questions and prepare convincing answers. Make a list of questions. Ask whether they have current project funders.
If they have not succeeded in getting an award, ask what they think the problem is. Research and offer a solution. You may include this in your follow-up/thank you letter. Find out if they have a budget for grant writing.
Some nonprofits may just be starting off. Don’t overlook these. If your circumstances permit, you may volunteer to write that first proposal to one grant maker for free. The benefits may far outweigh the financial loss. You get to include that proposal in your portfolio, regardless of whether it is funded or not. You get letters of recommendation. You may be hired by the organization or similar nonprofits.
After researching and identifying your nonprofit of choice, and some potential grant makers, you are ready to write the actual proposal, in some cases, the preliminary proposal. In future posts, I’ll share some important things you must include in a funding proposal. Until then, share this post, tweet and follow.
Christiana W. Davis, MD
Owner, Consult To Aspire