Are you proposal ready? If not, what do you need to do to get there?
As fundraisers, we are all faced with two main constraints: our budget and time. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and the need to rush and churn out proposals. However, the art of proposal writing is not just in the narrative but is in the preparation, planning and research that needs to go beforehand.
Once we have that worked out, then it saves us time reinventing the wheel each time and enables us to tailor the proposals to the funders’ needs and format.
It is a competitive environment and it is important we take our funders – who are people like us – on a journey, making them empathise with what they read, even if it’s not part of their daily lives.
Start with the basics
I find it helpful to imagine you are telling a friend where you work, what your organisation does and why it does it. That is a great starting point as clearly whatever you chose to communicate in that instance feels instinctively important to you. It is about getting across the key message and all the operational details can be added when needed. They do not always need to know everything straight away.
Breaking down your services really helps with filtering out the output and outcomes and can open many categories for funding that you may have overlooked.
I always say play devil’s advocate and think about what you would need to know if you were the funder.
Make sure you understand your organisation’s vision, mission and objectives
The key factors to a good proposal are understanding your organisation, your values mission, vision, and objectives. What are your current fundraising strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities are you not tapping into and what are the barriers and challenges facing you? Also, what external factors can have an impact on your fundraising?
What is the outcome and long-term impact and how will you know it has worked? What impacts have you made so far? How do funders make a difference and in what way could they be transformational?
It is about engaging funders further with the core work that you do as well as single projects. Funders need a story, they need to understand who you are reaching, where you fit in filling that gap and most importantly why you are the right charity for the job.
At the end of the day, it is about convincing them why they should fund your organisation.