What's New?

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Good news: the foundation has given you a grant, you’ve spent the money and now it’s time to submit an application for another award. This is an opportunity to create a “new top” for your story—a new headline, a fresh look at the challenges, a record of what’s been done and how that sets you up for what comes next. It’s also a chance to avoid sounding like “here we are again.”


The majority of grants are for one year so what can you highlight that tells the funder how you’ve used the money to move your program ahead? It’s relatively easier if the award letter or other agreement spells out what you were to have accomplished. Be sure that you report on things that were a part of the original set of expectations.


But if there’s no such award letter with specifics, what can you say about your work that shows a funder how far you’ve come? Perhaps you’ve reached more participants, enrolled more students, introduced your program to a new group. Maybe you’ve increased audience size, presented your program to a more diverse group of clients.


Did you add key staff, purchase and begin using new equipment, introduce new software that improves your performance? Did local laws or regulations change in a way that helped or hindered your work? How have you and your clients dealt with Covid-related issues?


If your grant from last year was based on your understanding of particular client situations or circumstances, how have they changed in a year? What’s new about the people you are in business to serve? In your proposal, demonstrate that you’ve tracked the impact of the pandemic on your clients and not just on your own staff.


Perhaps the most important thing to feature in a renewal proposal is forward motion—progress, however you measure it—toward the goals and objectives your organization exists to serve. We all know it’s been a tough year, we all know there have been setbacks and false starts and surprises. What’s important to tell your funder is what you did in spite of these challenges. It’s important to demonstrate your flexibility, your capacity for change and improvisation and your determination to keep working through the confusion.


Thomas Boyd is Chief Editorial Consultant for The Grantsmanship Center
and an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations.

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