Extreme Questions for Very Competitive Proposals

Questions, questions and more questions. By the time you prepare most grant applications you’ve had enough. And, for most applications, answering the required questions is more than plenty. But, when you face tough competition, you will want to think above and beyond any requirements and discover (and articulate) the unique possibilities your proposal offers.

To commence, use the list below. While the questions were developed to help a new coalition plan for a community center, they are universal enough to stimulate your thinking.

About The Customers You Will Serve

How will customers learn about you? Identify six sources from the most to least likely.
What are the three most common reasons they contact you?
On average, how old are they? What is their family situation?
Where do they live and work?
What is their income?
How will they get to your facility?
What fees will you charge?
On average, how long will you organization stay in contact with them?

About Outcomes

In what five ways will this proposal help your customers? Other family members? Other community members? How will their lives be changed?
How will you measure this? When? Be specific include instruments, timing and your schedule for data analysis.
Since any nonprofit can offer only a limited set of services. Why did you choose the ones you did? What did you eliminate? Why?
If you provide an array of services, which ones are most critical to success?

Collaborative Questions

In what five ways, will this project/grant help others in the community? (Don’t forget its impact on other nonprofits.)
Imagine, then list, the inter-agency synergies you anticipate.
Territorial issues between nonprofits can be challenging. How will you ensure that you will work well with others?
Likewise, what boundaries will you establish to protect your organization

Long-Term Impact

How can this grant/project serve as a model for others in your community?
How can this grant/project serve as a model for other groups outside the area? (Needed for national and regional applications)
How is your proposal new and cutting edge?

Agency Questions

Why should this funder, given their many choices, fund your organization? List ten reasons. Prioritize them according to the funder’s goals.
What are your long-term, big picture goals for this project in your organization? How will it help your community to be a better place?
What proves this project is viable? And sustainable?
What mechanism will you use to share what you learn?

In most cases, answering all these additional questions in your application will constitute TMI.* But knowing the answers will help you to write confident, in-depth responses. Your discoveries will increase your competitiveness and once you receive the grant, they will provide you with the implementation details to succeed.

*Too much information

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For other sources of nonprofit income to augment your grant opportunities, read this article, Can Your Organization Obtain More Income?