Where are you going and why should I follow you? When a business seeks funding from banks or other investors, they are often required to present a very firm, and concise, business plan that outlines all aspects of their proposed endeavors. Writing a grant is no different…However in the nonprofit world the “business plan” is otherwise known as the “Case for Support.”
Organizations interested in developing impressive and competitive proposals must establish frameworks to help them present the most important information, as well establish a strong argument towards the validity and merit of their projects and programs.
The Case of the Support helps to develop such a framework that will provide essential information to ensure anyone reading it will understand its subject matter. So to help you with your next grant proposal, consider creating a case for support for the project you need to have funded. Below are the key elements of a case for support.
This is your chance to provide an emotional opening to the project. Something that captivates the reader, intrigues them and makes them want to read further. The introduction conveys to the reader that your organization is legitimate and is a worthwhile investment.
Organization Mission and Vision…State why you exist and what you are trying to do as an organization.
Organization/Project History…Some ride the fence on whether this section should be included. I believe that when one is asking for money they have the burden of proving their ability to operate. One that can prove they have done so for a long period of time establishes more credibility. For newer organizations with a short history, focus on key highlights that have helped you survive so far and that give good indication of a bright future.
The key is to be brief in this section and not bore the reader with a history lesson. Just state what is most important to prove your organization’s validity.
Lastly, if your project has a history, you want to provide insight into this as well.
This is the section you will want to spend most your time on in order to ensure you effectively and accurately explain the key reasons why your project is important and necessary.
The Problem…Here is where to inform the reader of gaps, issues, problems, etc. that your project is specifically addressing.
The Solution…Your project, concept, idea for which you are requesting funding…THIS is the solution, of course.
The Impact…This section will include all the data, stats and other information that will successfully show the reader how your project will successfully provide impact and change.
Goals and Objectives…Outline your plan of action including what the specific goals of your project may be in addition to strategies and objectives for accomplishing them.
Programs and Services…What other programs and services do you currently offer and how are they applicable? Does the project strengthen the impact and expand the reach of existing services? How does the proposed project fit within your existing offering?
Collaboration…Outline details and highlight key collaborative efforts your project will introduce.
Fundraising…Provide information about your fundraising plan - What is the total project budget, what other funding sources are you pursuing, how are the funds being allocated and when do you anticipate receiving and spending project dollars.
Facilities and Service Delivery…Include a list of facilities and service delivery locations in order to provide a detailed overview of your capacity to implement and administer the proposed project.
Finances…Include information about the current and past financial condition of your agency. What are the allocation percentages of your total organization include information about your balance sheet and profit and loss statements.
Planning and Evaluation…Provide information how you will effectively implement aforementioned project goals and objectives and then accurately gauge its impact.
Governance…Include a list of your board members, their roles, occupations, contact information and length/terms of service.
Staffing…This section provides information about key staff who will be some level of responsibility in the management of your project. You should include a brief bio with information about their work history and competencies that are specifically relevant to the project.
Now is your chance to make an impactful call to action for readers…This is where you reiterate the most important aspects of your proposal and why it should be invested in.
Once your case for support has been established you now have a document that is the go to for anyone to learn about your project…This can be used to inform, establish consistent language and communication between staff, board and other stakeholders and used in bits and pieces to create grant proposals and letters of inquiry.
Next week we will give you a sample case for support and show you how it can be used to create an effective letter of inquiry. Stay tuned.