Social Value Funding : The Heart, Mind, and Soul of Writing a Proposal

A person approaches you with a $100,000 check in his or her hand. They offer to sign it over to you, provided that you can convince them of how your company or organization will use the money to benefit your field of study and society as a whole.

What would you say to them?

The answer to this hypothetical is a great way to establish the core of a successful grant or funding proposal.

If you having trouble determining what you would say, it’s possible that the core of your business or organization is not focused on societal benefits. That’s okay, but you should consider what this means or doesn’t mean to your roll in the market place and your ability to connect with a funding organization. Consider a funding proposal as an opportunity to revise and revitalize your brand. If you are able to create a meaningful connection and actively influence people/judges through your proposal, you will be more successful. The best way to accomplish this is start with your heart.Business Meeting

Pre-Planning – Starting with the Heart

Establish your goals and the goals of your business or organization and see if they correlate. Grant proposals are a way to formulate your personal or professional ideals and making a compelling argument is essential to reach your goals. If they don’t match, focus on the goal that is most suited to the funding platform’s mission.

This is not the time to be mild, vague, dull, or restrictive. By providing concrete examples of what you hope to achieve with funding and describing methods you will use in actualizing your ideas, you may effectively distinguish yourself and your company/organization from the other potential funding recipients.

Planning & Drafting – Building with the Mind(s)

There is nothing worse than bouncing an idea or a dream off a room full of mirrors. Collaborate with your marketing and writing teams, or if you don’t have these departments, then utilize the colleagues or employees that do you have. Together, brainstorm and research where potential funding exists and define your central objective and method of persuasion. Outline the stages and delegate tasks to your team appropriately.  For example, if you have a sales department, have them research and gather leads. And if you have a producer, a writer, or a public relations department, have them develop some of the written content for your proposal.

A variety of opinions, aptitude, experience, and zeal have the ability to keep a planning team and the funding plan strong if and when problems arise. Also, by pulling resources and people to accomplish tasks required for a grant or funding platform proposal, you will improve synergy within your company or organization and increase overall productivity. Keep in mind, writing a proposal, or any new project for that matter, is just an extension of your current operations.

Finalization – Selling with the Soul (without selling your soul)

The most successful grantees and funding recipients in media, technology, healthcare, and community outreach all have one thing in common. Soul. Soul exists in the community and is dynamic. Companies and organizations are lifeless and static without people. By nurturing the motivation, passion, values and ethics of their consumers and community, a company or organization can be integrated into this like-mindedness and soul. If you are writing a proposal with a ‘hard sell’ or a ‘pick mine it is shiny’ (feature-based) approach, you will not receive any funding and probably will never be taken seriously.   The more you align your proposal with the demands and hopes of the community at large, the more likely you will receive funding.

It is important to have the courage to take a leap of faith every now and again. And even if you are not successful the first time, you are prepared for the next opportunity. And if someone by chance ever walks up to you with a check in hand searching for something meaningful to finance, you will know exactly what to say.