When it comes to the non-profit sector it is important to remember that you are dealing with one of the largest industries in Canada. In fact, in 2004 Statistics Canada published the following information through The National Survey of Non-profit and Voluntary Organizations:
“With revenues totalling $112 billion, non-profit and voluntary organizations play a substantial role in the Canadian economy (currently 8.7% of Canada’s total GDP). Non-profit and voluntary organizations are also significant employers, with paid staff totalling just over 2 million people”.
Also, within the non-profit sector there are over 11,000 federally registered foundations that have combined assets of more than $91 billion dollars. Most important of course, is the fact that these foundations award more than $7 billion in grants to Canadian charities every year.
As you would imagine, any industry this large has developed its own culture and protocols. That means that there are industry-standard expectations when it comes to applying for grants from foundations. That can sound a little intimidating, but in fact, the exact opposite is true. Because their expectations are so straightforward and clear, foundations are not hard to approach at all. In fact, every foundation requires the same basic information and expects a similar format when applying to them for funding. With a little training, a little practice, and a little perseverance, any charity can apply to these giants of philanthropy – even if you have never written a grant before.
In fact, Grant Advance Solutions has taken advantage of these common expectations and industry-standard practices through the development of our signature feature, Document Generator. This “step-by-step, learn-as-you-do,” approach has made learning how to write Letters of Inquiry and Grant Proposal an enjoyable experience versus a dreaded chore with confusion, mystery, and uncertainty. We have simply used the elements that are common for every standard document to help you organize your correspondence and ensure that your application is professional and meets all industry-standard expectations.
For example, let’s say you have identified a fantastic foundation to approach for funding. You have done your research and you know that your mission and values align perfectly with those of the foundation. But you have never approached them before, you don’t know any of the people serving on the board of directors, and you haven’t been invited to submit a proposal. How do you get your foot in the door?
Well, in this case, the approved strategy is to send a Letter of Inquiry simply asking for permission to submit a proposal. But what is a Letter of Inquiry? How long should it be? What information do they want me to include? What should I not include? Since this is your very first contact with a potential funder, you really want to make sure that you do this right!
Document Generator walks you through all 6 components of a standard Letter of Inquiry (9 steps in a full proposal) and tells you exactly what a foundation is expecting to receive in your document. We also provide examples of successful submissions that have been provided by our generous community of clients who are only too happy to help others succeed. Using this tool, you can create a “Master” Letter of Inquiry (or Grant Proposal) and apply it to every foundation that you identified as a potential match. This is important, because the Letter of Inquiry has a fairly low approval rating (just being honest). For that reason, you need to send out a lot of Letters of Inquiry. No problem there, with proper research you easily identified hundreds of foundations that are already supporting organizations just like yours. But you don’t really have the time to write hundreds of Letters of Inquiry. Instead, you create one Master document and later, you customize it to address each specific foundation personally.
Document Generator adds all the identified foundations to your project. It then provides you with the correct director to whom you want to address your letter (usually the Executive Director, President, or Board Chairperson). You then adjust your requested ASK amount using our Smart Tags to an amount that corresponds with the average grant amount that each foundation historically awards (yes, we provide that information as well). If you want to dive deeper, you can explore their foundation profile page to see what other sectors they support and modify your Master Document by adding a paragraph or two to enhance how closely you reflect the foundation’s mission and values.
At no time do we ever provide a “template” that is generic and ineffective. We show you how to express you vision and your passion in your words and then give you the ability to customize every Letter of Inquiry (or Proposal) in such a way that it reflects the language and values of the organization that you applying to for funding.
Our Document Generator also inserts your logo, your branding, your signature, and your unique style to every request you create. Nevertheless, the time savings are unbelievable. Using this process, you can easily knock off 90% of the time it typically takes to apply to half a dozen foundations while increasing the number or organizations you apply to 200 or more well-matched foundations.
Document Generator even shows you how to prepare a grant budget and automates the creation of a unique budget for every foundation in your project list.
Does it get any simpler than that?