Simplifying Your Grant Process
The journey to winning a grant can be undeniably tedious, from finding grant(s) that are a good fit for your organization to writing the proposal and to managing the fund when you are awarded – it can all be draining!
"If you want to be seen, you have to put yourself out there – it's that simple!"
– Karin Fossum
When you search for your NGO or social enterprise on Google, what do you see?
As simple as this sounds, it can be the deal breaker to determine if you will win the next grant you apply for. Why? One of the biggest things funders look out for in a grant proposal is a track record of your achievements. A Google search is often the starting point for funders to confirm your credibility while assessing your grant proposal or application.
Many social impact organisations assume that just because they are doing something good, every funder would believe they are. Unfortunately, that's not the case. There has to be solid proof of what you have achieved; your track record has to be on record. And if you are to stand a chance of winning grant funding, potential funders must believe that you are creating real impact.
In this article, I will be walking you through four innovative ways you can show your traction to increase your chances for funding.
Social Media is the 21st century gold-mine. More than half of the world's population – approximately 4.7 billion people – use social media for at least 2 hours a day. This makes social media the biggest platform to showcase your traction.
Merriam Webster defines social media as "electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)". Basically, social media is a platform where users generate content that they share with other users. Among the top social media channels today are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Putting up your achievements on social media gives it wide exposure, as users can engage with your content and even repost it within their own networks. Also, social media pages rank high on Google search – so when funders search for you, what you post on social media would come up quickly.
Besides, your beneficiaries can also create real-time testimonials on social media. For instance, Nacklyn schools featured their video on YouTube detailing how Grant Master helped them to catalyse their impact.
Have you organised an outreach? Take pictures and videos of the event and upload them on social media. That way, when you state in your grant application that you have carried out so and so number of outreaches benefitting XY people, your funders can find the evidence.
For instance, Grant Master recently helped a client win over USD 450,000 and here's how we documented it on Instagram.
Request your beneficiaries to generate content that supports your impact.
For example, you might be an organization providing support for girls in Africa, and one of your recent projects might have been to distribute pads to 1,000 secondary school girls. You can then encourage these girls to post a picture of themselves and the pad on Instagram. Even if only 50 girls do this, it will go a long way to show that your work is credible.
As an NGO or social enterprise, you do not have to be on all social media channels. Absolutely not! Apart from thinning out your resources, it will be less likely to yield results. I would suggest that you use YouTube to archive important video coverage of programs, while Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are perfect for micro blogging. LinkedIn is also a fantastic platform – but I would discuss it in detail under the next heading.
Before I even proceed, there are two must-haves for your organization:
A website is to today's organisation what dressing up is for a person. In other words, your website makes a very powerful first impression on the funder. Without a website, your organisation might seem like a fraud. Meanwhile, having a poor website that does not showcase what you do effectively can have a similar effect.
Here's an example of what a great website looks like: HelpMum.
As a guide, your home page should clearly outline your mission and vision statement, and your traction. In addition, it should have an easily navigable UI/UX design for a user to learn more about your story, projects, team, and even donate! HelpMum absolutely killed this.
Your organization should have a LinkedIn profile, but your team members MUST have a LinkedIn profile. In today's world, a solid and highly optimised LinkedIn profile is literally compulsory for professionals. How else would a grant funder like UNESCO confirm that there is a person called Eket Udoma from Cameroon that established the Udoma Girls Education Project in 2015?!!!
Besides, some funders explicitly request for LinkedIn profiles of team members. Asides from establishing your credibility, LinkedIn virtually acts as a professional CV. What's more, it ranks well on Google search!
Politicians know that there is no better PR than press coverage – and you should too. That is why they would invite press houses and organize ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the littlest projects. As a social impact organization, position your impact to be in the news.
This could be through press releases, writing opinion pieces or columns featuring your work for local newspapers, or if you can afford it: press conferences.
E-Newsletters can be a great way to keep records of your achievements. With e-newsletters, you do not have to put in so much effort, especially if you do not have the resources to manage your website or social media actively. All you have to do is to use electronic blogging or CRM platforms like MailChimp, Substack, Medium or Mailerlite to send periodic multimedia updates of your work to partners and subscribers. These platforms are usually Freemium (they have both free and pro versions). Each newsletter you send would have a unique link which you can later add as reference to your applications.
Meanwhile, you can receive weekly info on grant alerts and grant writing tips on Grant Master's e-newsletter. Subscribe here:
To sum it up, your chances of winning grants as an NGO or social enterprise depends on your ability to show credible impact. It is essential that you put your work out there so potential funders can take you seriously. Get on social media. Ensure you have a good website and LinkedIn visibility for your team. Make the most of press coverage and newsletter. By all means, record your track record!