5 mistakes you can avoid with funder research

Posted on January 3, 2013


5 grantwriting mistakes to avoid with funder research

Good research is the best way to prepare for writing a grant request. It takes valuable time to gather credible, up-to-date information. But you must know your funder before you write a single word.

No time for research? Here are 5 mistakes you won’t know you’re making

Mistake #1 – Mission mismatch.
Proposing a project outside the funder’s mission is the kiss of death. Don’t assume that you’re a great match because you share a town with a funder or you received a grant a few years ago. Make sure you have current information about where the funder is focused.

Mistake #2 – Wrong contact.
Board members and foundation staff change. Be sure you have recent contact information before sending that request. (I included this tip because I once offended a program officer by addressing a proposal to her predecessor. In her words, “There’s no excuse for that kind of mistake.” Ouch!)

Mistake #3 – Terrible timing.
If you don’t read the guidelines, you won’t know that you’ve missed the deadline. Or that your request won’t be considered for six more months. Or that funding is no longer available.

Mistake #4 – Industry ignorance.
If you’re approaching a corporate funder, you should have a basic understanding of its business. This knowledge will help you identify the best matches between your organizations. It’s also important to understand who your prospect’s competitors are; A company may not be enthusiastic about supporting a signature program named after a rival business.

Mistake #5 – Format failure.
Does the funder want the request in two pages or less? Don’t send a novel. Did the funder request six attachments? Make sure to include them. Heed any advice a funder provides in its guidelines about length, format and attachments. That’s easy stuff that can help save you and the funder time.

Every funder is different. So the degree to which these mistakes will affect your request depends on who you’re approaching. Even with more forgiving funders, it’s best to minimize these mistakes with good solid research up front.

I’m sure I’ve missed some…Are there other mistakes that good research helped you to avoid?