Today's blog post is contributed by Kristal Johnson, who is a member of the Grants Professionals Association and a Grant Peer Reviewer with the United Way of Greater Houston. Learn more about her services at http://kgrantwriter.com. and check out her NPA session The Needs Assessment: Connecting Your Data and Nonprofit Story.

Your chances of securing funding for your programs dramatically increase if you submit a strong grant proposal that describes your program in descriptive detail. Here are a few strategies to help you in your proposal writing process:

1.      Keep your focus

When writing your grant proposal, keep your focus on what's important. The grant proposal should be less about you and your project and more about how you can help your client meet their goals.  Specifically, focus on how you can help solve a problem that is important to them.

2.      Make your own checklist of required materials

Take the time to make a list of all the requirements, even those forgotten from the provided checklist.Grant applications come with a checklist that details all of the proposal requirements, but you may find some of the proposal requirements are located in different places within the proposal packet.Make your own checklist rather than just relying on what comes with the grant application.

3.      Answer reader questions

You could write a convincing proposal for a good idea but be rejected if it isn’t explicit how your idea lines up with the funder’s priorities.Make sure the link between your program idea and the benefit to the community is very clear. Also, make sure there is a match between the funder's interests and priorities and the way you describe your program.  It is important to make sure your proposal has lasting impact. Specifically, the reader wants to be able to find the answers to their questions quickly. The way you do that is to make sure your proposal is convincing and leaves no lingering questions for the reader.

4.      Make sure all proposal parts are interconnected

Make sure your stated goals are reflected in everything you propose. In your proposal, your goals and objectives should resonate through your entire proposal.  Is what you’re proposing achievable within the timeframe you've allowed? Is your budget realistic and within the parameters of the funder’s range? Is the whole picture clear to the funder?

5.      Ask for the right amount of money

If they have awarded proposals within a certain range, it would be wise to request money within that range.Take some time to review the funder's history to see what they have awarded in the past. Of course your budget has to be based on the needs of your project, but you are more likely to receive funding if your needs fit into what the funder has previously awarded.  

These are a few good strategies you can use to strengthen your proposal. The best way to make sure your proposal is strong is to ask someone else to read through your proposal before submitting. An extra set of eyes can help catch things you wouldn’t have noticed yourself.