Whenever I’m working as a grant reviewer, I can always tell when an applicant is trying to hide the fact that they are unqualified for a particular grant. They tend to tell you everything THEY want you to know, but nothing of what was asked for. In particular, they boast about all the great work they’re doing, whether it’s relevant to the proposal or not.
For those applicants their favorite section is the organizational history. And it should be yours too.
This is the section that allows you to go all in by tooting your own horn. This is where you get to brag about your organization, your programs, and your staff.
Every grant will ask about your organization’s background because they want to determine your credibility and capacity to implement the type of program in which you are applying. This section is typically referred to as the organizational history, organizational background, or organizational capacity.
Here are some components that should be included in this section:
- Mission Statement – describes the purpose of your organization. It’s the core activity your organization was formed to do.
- Vision Statement – describes the ultimate objective of your organization. What is the “pie in the sky” goal you want to accomplish?
- Staff Credentials – list the credentials and educational background of your key personnel. You only need to identify the personnel relevant to the project you’re proposing (i.e. Executive Director, Program Director, Evaluator, etc.)
- Organization’s Experience – indicate the organization’s experience serving the target population and experience running your type of program. This demonstrates credibility and it’s especially important if you’re working with a very specific population (i.e. at risk youth, mentally and physically disabled individuals, substance abusers, non-English speaking individuals, etc.)
- Accreditations and Certifications – describe any special accreditations or certifications that your organization holds that are relevant to the project.
- Years in Operation – include how long your organization has been in operation. An extensive history speaks to your experience and credibility. If you are newly formed, discuss the relevant experience of the founder prior to forming the organization.
- Community Partners – describe any community partnerships with established organizations. This demonstrates the community buy-in and assures the funder of sustainability after the grant award expires. You can also lean on the experience of your community partners if your organization is newly formed.
- Fiscal Capacity – include a statement about the financial capacity of the organization. Indicate your financial history and experience managing budgets equivalent to the funding you’re requesting, especially if it’s a request for major funding. You also want to indicate if your organization has regular independent audits and follows standard accounting principles.
These are the basic elements that need to be included in your organization’s background.
If you’re submitting a major proposal, then you should have at least one full page describing your organization. If you’re submitting to a foundation, or writing a simple letter of intent or case statement, then two to three paragraphs should suffice.
Finally, once you write a great organizational statement you can cut and paste it into any proposal, as appropriate. The bulk of this information will always remain the same.
If you’d like to learn more about writing grants, my NEW course – Strategic Storytelling: The Secret to Being a Successful Grant Writer – is open for registration.
Until next time…
Peace & Blessings!