Writing Funding Proposals
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Incorporation and Charitable Status Information
A BIA board of management is a corporation consisting of directors established by the municipality. Most funders require that agencies be incorporated. An incorporated organization has legal status and gains some liability protection. Incorporation is a legal process, which requires an organization to develop a constitution and by-laws. Goals and objectives also have to be established.
As well, the incorporated organization must have a board of management representative of the community in terms of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
A BIA is not a non-profit organization nor can it obtain charitable status. It is best to inform potential funders of the BIA status and confirm your eligibility before preparing your funding request.
In some cases funders will allow existing incorporated organizations to act as a trustee for developing organizations not yet ready for incorporation. This arrangement allows new organizations to develop under the guidance of an experienced organization and to eventually become an independent entity later.
Contact and Gain the Interest of Appropriate Potential Funders
Let the appropriate funders know about your organization and try to catch their interest by doing the following:
- Ask a lot of questions about the way the funding process works and invite your contact to learn more about your organization
- Invite funders to special events or to meet with volunteers and staff at general board meetings
Your ultimate goal is to get the potential funder to actually invest in your organization. This can be achieved through:
- a donation or grant for specified operating and/or capital projects
- goods in-kind such as provision of office equipment and supplies, free publicity about your services, assistance in coordinating a public relations strategy and staff to assist your organization
What to do Before Applying for Funds
- Establish fundraising goals and objectives
- Define the need for funding for your organization
- Identify and research all possible funding sources
- Contact and gain the interest of appropriate potential supporters
Note: BIAs are not eligible for charitable status. You may consider working in partnership with an organization that has charitable status.
In fundraising, strategy means developing a comprehensive financial plan for raising the funds needed to achieve the organizational objectives, and using the necessary resources to achieve the objective. This is the responsibility of the Board of Management.
Establish Fundraising Goals and Objectives
Before approaching potential funders, you must agree on the following:
- how much funding is needed
- the type of funding which is required
- a desired financial and organizational target.
This is done during your budget process. Your committee must then decide on the type of funding which will assist the organization to provide its programs and services. For example, some organizations may want to target only the private sector or government.
Your organization should obtain the most diverse funding base as possible. Funders generally like to contribute towards services where there are other interested funders. Your organization should attempt to obtain a good mix of private, public and foundation funds for your initiative.
Another possible goal for your committee is to raise funds internally (for example: internal fundraising such as special events, and donations). This can be done using staff and volunteers. When a funder sees that your organization and the community are committed to supporting your services, they are better convinced that your organization is stable and your services are needed.
Fundraising is an ongoing and often frustrating process; more proposals will be written than funds received. A commitment to a regular and annual fundraising process will help to ensure a secure funding base for your project. Long-term and short-term objectives for fundraising should be established.
Define the Funding Needs of Your Organization
Once your board and committee have agreed upon the goals and objectives of your fundraising approach, it is essential to target the areas where funding is needed. This will assist you in identifying possible funding sources. It is critical that you document the need for funding. Conveying a strong need for your service may aid in expressing a convincing argument for funding consideration. Documentation can include statistics, needs assessments and other supporting documents.
Identify and Research all Possible Funding Sources
Five elements are essential for developing and implementing an effective fundraising strategy:
- Identify potential donors
- Research potential donors
- Gain the interest of potential donors
- Involve them in your program
- Get them to invest in your organization.
Identifying potential donors mean looking for any and all conceivable funders who are likely to have an interest in funding your program. Donors could include:
- public sector
- large corporations
- small businesses
- charitable foundations
Organizations should determine the priorities of potential funders. This means that they should obtain program descriptions, eligibility criteria, application forms and submission deadlines. Identify a key contact person working for each potential funder who is knowledgeable about the application process, the funding priorities and the kind of information being sought from applicants.
Funding Proposals – Critical Areas
- ten steps to a comprehensive funding proposal
- summary sheet
- demonstration of the organization’s credibility
- definition of needs
- identification objectives and evaluation process
- description of programs
- sound financial management
Your application is your opportunity to prove and demonstrate the uniqueness, efficiency, effectiveness, credibility and dependability of your organization. You are selling your idea or service to the funder and it’s important that the need for funding and the ability of the agency to deliver the service comes across strongly, concisely and clearly.
Ten Steps to a Comprehensive Funding Proposal
The following outlines the major areas which should be included in a detailed funding proposal. Please note, some funders do not require all of these items; others require items that are not included. It’s always important to ensure that all of the funders’ questions are answered before providing supplementary information. Funders do not judge submissions on the quantity of information, but on the quality of the required information.
- Identify the specific project or services for which the organization is seeking financial support through this funding submission
- Include a table of contents that indicates the sections and sub-sections of the proposal, with page references
- Spend whatever time is necessary to write an interesting and easily readable summary sheet
- Prepare an introduction that conveys the credibility of the organization in a compelling manner
- Describe the identified need(s) this particular proposal will address
- State the short and long-term objectives to be achieved by the proposed project
- Describe the programs /services to be delivered in order to achieve the objectives
- Build in an evaluation component that will demonstrate the degree to which the method of service delivery is achieving the objectives
- Describe the organization’s system of financial management that discusses the methods of financial accounting, financial control and financial reporting. Be sure to outline a plan for fundraising that extends beyond the grant period currently being pursued. If possible, attach a copy of the audited financial statement for the previous fiscal year at the end of the funding proposal
- Provide a proposed budget that focuses on the specific project or services for which funds are being sought, and indicate clearly the total amount of money being requested.
Include a one-page synopsis of your proposal at the very beginning of your submission. This is sometimes done through a covering letter to the funder. The summary sheet should refer briefly to each of the following items:
- Organization name and address
- Statement about organizational objectives
- Achievements which demonstrate the credibility of the organization and what has been accomplished to date
- Identify the needs the organization addresses
- State the activities or programs provided
- The scope of the program for which funds are being sought
- A clear statement about the total projected cost of the proposal, any funds already received from other sources and the exact amount being requested in this funding submission
How your request fits into the priorities of the funder.
Spend the time necessary to make this an interesting and easily readable summary, as this will encourage the funder to read the whole proposal.
Grant Application Self-Evaluation Form
- Can you explain why your project is important enough to be funded?
- Do you have tangible, practical solutions to the problems you state need solving?
- Do you have the necessary qualifications to undertake this project?
- Can you measure the results of your project?
- Can you list the project’s benefits on a per unit cost?
- Do you have the supporting documents for your proposal?
If you get funding to undertake this project, are you in the position to continue running your organization and managing your other programs?
Staff Salaries and Functional Breakdowns
- Structure of organization
- List of board of directors
- Audited financial statement
- Supporting documents including a business plan
- Summary sheet
- Purpose of organization
- Organizational goals and objectives
- Year of incorporation and charitable number
- Description of area
- Needs definition
- Program/service description
- Service and volunteer statistics
- Evaluation procedures
- Demonstration of sound financial management practices