Strong agencies do their research homework both through the Web or printed directories, and through personal conversations with Foundation staff, whenever possible. We may be able to give you insights into emerging grant interests among our directors, the outcome of requests similar to yours in the past, or other information relevant to your proposed request.
Instead of providing only your own conclusions of need, give the reader the data from which to draw the conclusions that support your case. Don’t write, “Our neighborhood desperately needs a youth center.” Better to say, “According to the most recent Census estimates, 60% of our neighborhood’s residents are under the age of 18, and 85% live in poverty. Yet there are no afterschool programs, youth clubs, or public recreation centers of any kind within a five-mile radius.”
Describe in detail how the grant will benefit your clients. One technique is to translate dollars into service: “A grant of $25,000 would allow us to provide a daily, nutritious meal to the 100 children in our program for an entire year.”
Don’t devote your limited space discussing the agency’s history, for example, then give only cursory treatment to your program details and results. And if you do cite achievements, they should be recent ones.
Avoid hyperbole, flowery language, jargon unique to your field, and overt flattery such as, “We are deeply honored to submit a request.” Supporting charities is our business, and we can’t do it without you.
It is helpful to compose the narrative sections of your request in Word instead of typing directly in the boxes provided in the online applications. You may then copy and paste the information into the application. But don’t rely solely on your word processor’s spell-check function. Among other limitations, it cannot distinguish between homonyms, or detect a similar but misplaced word (as in the case of one grantseeker writing that her agency fulfilled the Foundation’s interest in “serving the indignant”). To print a copy of the completed application, scroll to the top of the form and click on Application Packet next to the PDF icon.
The duration of the review process—from submission of an LOI to a grant decision—is six months, and grant payments are made anywhere between one and twelve months after the date of award. Be sure you understand when your agency actually needs the grant funds, to ensure that you are submitting with enough lead time.