University of Maryland alumni, staff, and students gathered together on October 17, 2019 for a Proposal Writing workshop hosted by Candid. Participants came with innovative ideas, new business models, and an eagerness to learn; and were given a presentation by Candid’s Community Outreach Manager, Elizabeth Madjlesi. Elizabeth taught participants about the ins and outs of proposal writing and how to leverage private giving to make a difference.
The presenting company, Candid, represents the merger of both Foundation Center and GuideStar – two powerful resources in the third sector. Now, as both organizations merge, Candid is able to equip nonprofit leaders with a host of resources all on the same platform. Candid’s goal is to find out where philanthropic money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. While they offer more than 70 products and services, Elizabeth took some time to highlight the top services to the UMD community, as well as offer advice on how to best use them as tools to propel individuals’ social impact projects forward.
The presentation lasted about two hours and covered questions from “what is a foundation?” to “how should I follow up after I submit a proposal?” and everything in between. Attendees learned how to prove credibility, how to attract certain funders, and how to be intentional in stating their project’s needs. While a similar presentation can be found online, here are a few of our biggest takeaways from the lesson:
- Always start with an outline. A proposal will be much easier to write if you have a basic framework drafted and you are able to focus in on your specific needs and wants.
- Focus on funder’s interests and guidelines. Typically funders are reading hundreds of applications, so if you are thoughtful about how you align with the funder’s mission, you are more likely to be awarded the grant.
- Make your proposal easy to read, clear, and concise. The person reading your proposal will most likely not be an expert on your project, so make it digestible and easy to read. It is not necessary to add excess materials or language, as funders already have a lot to move through. Sometimes less is more!
- Your outcomes must be measurable. Ensure that you know what you are committing to and that you will be able to report on it. Data matters!
- Get to know the other organizations in your field. Are there other organizations in your community doing similar work? Get to know them so you can better understand your community and recognize how to scale your own impact (and stand out!)
Interested in learning more?
Come to one of our Do Good Campus workshops! The Do Good Institute is constantly hosting programming that can help you scale up your ideas and turn ideas into impact. Keep up with us and sign up for our newsletter here.
Interested in further exploring Candid?
Check out their trainings, e-library, and nonprofit startup resources here! Along with being a database for grants in your area, they offer quick evaluations of your project and can calculate where you may have room for improvement.