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These are the last six steps of a 12-step process for planning a proposal to win a grant from a private foundation:


1. Structure. Conduct further research about your prioritized foundations. Use directories, databases, and foundation websites to identify each prospect’s founder, board members, and trustees. Review websites and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990-PF filings for lists of recent grantees. Compare and contrast the grantees with your organization. Locate and review recent news articles about grants awarded by your prioritized foundations.


2. Prepare. Create three proposal frameworks. If the foundation publishes them, create a file or checklist of its review criteria and proposal content requirements. Create a second one of your project’s key selling points as they relate to the foundation’s criteria. Lastly, create one for each foundation’s publishing, transmission, and submission requirements.


3. Present. Compile a set of questions for each foundation, create a project presentation team, and arrange to call or visit your prioritized foundations. Always be sure they welcome such calls or visits before making them. Consider your readiness, the timing, and the potential benefits and risks of making direct contact with each foundation. Be certain to have one of your upper level executives serve on your team. Describe your project and sell its core ideas. Ask questions for clarification and record the answers. Follow each site visit quickly with a personalized brief note signed by an executive administrator.


4. Refine. Revise your project after your calls or visits, if you made any. Incorporate insights you gained from doing your research and preparing your three frameworks. Also incorporate insights you acquired through all contact with any representatives of each foundation.


5. Develop. Fully develop the plans for the project. Establish organizational capacity, substantiate needs, formulate goals and objectives, specify key activities, develop timelines, identify appropriate staff, articulate evaluation plans, and delineate budgets. Include appropriate attachments or appendices such as itemized budgets, board members, evidence of non-profit or other legal status, most recent annual financial audit report, and annual report.


6. Deliver. Write and submit a letter of inquiry or a full proposal consistent with each foundation’s preferences, requirements, and expectations. Acknowledge and respect the foundation’s funding decisions after its review of your proposal.


Later posts will provide extensive glossaries of terms used in writing winning grant proposals.


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