By Jay Maharjan on October 5, 2007

One of the classic mistakes that most non-profit organizations make while applying for grants is that they do not follow proper guidelines. “ About 90 percent of applicants are rejected just for not following the required guidelines,” says Elana Edelstein, Assistant Director of Communications, Marketing and Foundation at Glendale College. She was directly responsible for writing grant proposals for the last 4 years – raising over $ 3 million.

The process of grant writing has many resemblances to writing a business plan.

Come up with a game plan
: You really need to have a complete game plan. This includes understanding your program and its core needs. When you write a business plan, if you are not sure of what you want, the chances are that Venture Capitalists (VCs) and Banks will not find you credible. Same goes for writing grant proposals. If an applicant doesn’t do a thorough homework, the organization is perceived as not well managed and not having a clear mission.

Attend a grant writing seminar:Short-term grant-writing seminars like Grantmanship Training offer tremendous insights that can be applied to your strategy immediately.

Come up with a sound financial plan: It is extremely important to come up with a practical financial plan. Projections need to make sense and you need to have a clear plan on how you are going to spend the money.

Research is the key: As I mention in my Business Plan Basics posts, take time to do a thorough research. Conduct competitive analysis. Separate your proposal from the rest and outline clearly and precisely why your organization is better than the others. This includes studying your competitors’ business plans, their tax returns, and most importantly the sources of the grants that they received. “The first step that you want to do is to go after the same group of donors who previously offered grants to your competitors.” says Elana Edelstein.

Follow the guidelines: Always follow the guidelines. You need to follow much stricter guidelines when applying for grants. “You improve your chances tremendously just by following the guidelines.” adds Elana Edelstein.

Internet is your friend: Make most out of the resources that you have available at your fingertips. Grantsmanship Centers website is one of the best resources available out there on the Internet.

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