With competition as fierce as it is for grant dollars, it’s advisable to ensure that grant funders know without a shadow of a doubt that your proposal is worthy of funding.  But I see so many nonprofits make the mistake of assuming that funders know about their struggles and challenges and they do little to fully inform the funder and back their claims up with concrete evidence.

Not that this is you, (gasp!) but in the off chance that you’re looking for ways to beef up your proposal’s credibility, I humbly submit five ways to provide it:

Use clear statistics that support your argument. Be very specific in providing data on your target population and the problem you’re trying to address.  Statistics as they relate to your specific area of concern are much more persuasive than general data.  For example, don’t only use national data to support your claim.  Get closer to home and provide stats that support your argument.

Use comparative statistics whenever possible. Know of an organization that did what you want to do and was successful at it?  If your organizations are similar and have similar challenges in your communities, show grant funders what the other organization did that was similar to what you want to do and provide the statistics that prove that project was a success.

Use quotes from well-respected authority figures. There should be people in your area of expertise that could provide a good quote for you to include.  Just don’t forget when you use quotes to provide the source and backup information explaining why they are considered an authority on the subject.

Use current data. The internet makes it so easy for us to find information on our subject – which can be a good thing.  It can also be bad when you provide out-of-date information or use links that no longer work.  Be sure to only use current and relevant data from reputable sources.

Use touching stories of people you serve. While heartwarming, emotional real-life stories are most effective when balanced against hard data.  While I encourage using one or two in your proposal, don’t overdo it.  And use the other methods suggested here to provide the concrete data to balance the emotion.

While these are good, solid ways to incorporate credibility into your grant proposal, there are certainly more.  How about you share them with me here?