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The Importance of Community Support

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Of all the elements that must find their way into a grant proposal, there’s one that may get overlooked. This is the element of community support. Include it and you’ll strengthen your proposal; leave it out and you may get a rejection letter.

If all things are equal in two proposals, and one clearly demonstrates community support, that’s the one that will get funded. Why is community support so important to funders? Consider the grantors’ purpose, mission, and funding priorities. They not only have a philanthropic mission to serve the community, but a desire to make an impact in the community.

When your organization makes an impact in the lives of those you serve, what do you do about it? Do you quietly go about your business? Or do you let everyone know? By informing the community of your success—your clients, your donors, your members, potential donors, local media, your industry, your website, your newsletter, your volunteers, your staff, etc.—you’re also taking a huge step to gaining community support. People can’t support your organization if they don’t know about the wonderful things you do. Don’t save all your accomplishments for grant applications and a year-end report! Get the word out in ways that fit your organization’s personality and mission.

Kids enjoying nature trail

How do you articulate community support in a grant proposal?

You want to highlight support relating to your proposal. Say the proposal is for developing a new hiking trail. You’d mention the number of trail users you already have, the number of hits to your trail web site, the other community organizations that support trail use and who endorse the project, comments from surveys that support the need for more trails, the number of members who’ve signed up to receive trail updates, how many years your Trail Volunteer Program has been active and how many participate. Perhaps you have an annual race on the trail, give the highlights of community support for that event. Give whatever details show that trails matter in your community and that trails impact the quality of life of residents.

The grantor isn’t only supporting a trail, they are supporting the people who will develop it, manage it, and especially those who will use it. Again it’s about convincing the donor of the significant long-term impact they can potentially make by awarding your organization a grant.


Let’s Talk About Mission Part II

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Now that you know the importance of identifying your organization’s mission, let me stress once more that mission will come up again and again when you write grant proposals. Not only that, but mission will be front and center when dealing with donors, sponsors, and grant funders. And believe it or not, mission is or should be on every piece of collateral material, advertising, and social media your organization uses. Organizations that are effective at emphasizing their mission this way will draw many supporters and advocates of the mission to them. And we all know how critical community support is to our organization’s vitality.

Hospice care

It’s important to note that if your organization has a wimpy, or vague, or uninspiring mission statement, or if your current mission statement is no longer reflective of all you do, then it’s time to rewrite it. Do not resist. It’s worth spending the time to have a kick-butt mission statement. It’s actually imperative that you do. Click here for an article on creating a mission statement. Click here for another article on writing a mission statement.