How to Write a Proposal for Funding

One of the most important skills a fundraising campaign organizer can develop is the ability to describe a project in such a way as to make the reader care. Motivating an outsider who supports your project in an abstract sense to contribute to it financially is no easy task. It requires a clear, emotionally poignant pitch that impresses upon the reader their role in reversing a social ill. Crowdfunding is a powerful fundraising tool, but strategizing is key. A compelling fundraising proposal can hugely benefit your campaign. Here are some tips to help get you started!

  1. Write Your Finest Crowdfunding Proposal

    Think of the text you write on your crowdfunding page as your campaign's fundraising proposal. It should include all of the information necessary for a potential supporter to make an informed decision about donating to your cause. Through photos, video, and a compelling description of your work, you need to convince potential donors to trust you, care about your cause, and feel empowered to take action. Make sure to cover the following:

    • Explain your project. Describe what you plan to do in as much detail as possible without bogging down your prose. Make sure the reader has a clear understanding of your vision as well as how you plan to achieve it.
    • Convey the importance of your project to the reader. Why is it relevant? What major issue do you plan to address, and how what specific steps will your campaign take address it?
    • Who is impacted by your work? Put a human face on the suffering you plan to relieve. Make the issue personal by including stories and photos of the people who the donor will help. It's easy to ignore an online request for money, but it's harder to ignore a personal entreaty.
    • Introduce yourself to supporters. Explain who are you and why you're qualified to take on your project. Because crowdfunding campaigns are not subject to the kind of oversight that nonprofits are, and because people are often viewing your page from all over the world, it is extremely important to build trust with your supporters and convey your sincere commitment to the cause.
  2. Writing Your Grant Proposal

    Consider applying for funding through a grant from a foundation. Supplement the money you raise through personal donations with funds specifically devoted to the support of worthy causes like yours. Should you win the grant, ask that the money be disbursed directly as a donation to your crowdfunding campaign. Here are some tips for writing the most compelling possible grant proposal:

    • Do your research. Look for foundations that share similar values, and look into the types of grants that most closely suit your project. There are countless foundations out there with money to give, so talk to people who work in fundraising and educate yourself online before you take any action. Pay attention to the requirements, too, such as what groups and projects qualify for the funding, how long the proposal should be, and when you need to submit it.
    • Cover all the basics. Like the copy you wrote for your crowdfunding page, your grant proposal should cover the “what,” “who,” and “why” thoroughly. Make sure your proposal includes: a synopsis of your work so far; an explanation of what makes your work unique from that of groups or individuals with similar projects; what you expect to accomplish with the funds and how; who you are, what your qualifications are, and who else you're working with; and an explanation of how your project will survive if it doesn't receive the grant or after the allocated money has been used.
    • Clearly this is a long list of of points to hit, but avoid rattling off answers one after another. Remember that your proposal is a piece of persuasive writing and should provide a compelling, coherent argument for why your campaign should receive the grant. Make sure your piece flows naturally.
    • Include specific financial information, including a budgeted plan (and explanation!) for the use of the money. And attach audited financial documentation as well as proof of your 503(c) status.
  3. How Grants Can Benefit Your Crowdfunding Campaign

    In addition to personal donations, grants can be a great tool to keep your campaign energized and provide large amounts of funding from a single source. Now that you know the basics of writing a grant proposal, we've compiled a list of some of the helpful ways to use your grant:

    • Grants provide potential donors with a degree of social proof. As we mentioned earlier, in order to make a donation, a supporter needs to trust that you will use his or her money efficiently and to benefit the cause you advertised. A grant serves as a public distinction of your legitimacy as a trustworthy campaign organizing, running a fundraiser that the foundation deemed worthy of its money. This is powerful social proof, so publicize your grant over social media and on your campaign page!
    • Apply for a grant that offers donation matching! A grant that promises to match personal donations up to a certain amount provides a powerful incentive for supporters to take immediate action. Donation matching not only provides a form of social proof, but it gives the donor a sense of heightened satisfaction; how great does it feel to know that when you gave back, you secured twice as much money for an important cause than the amount you parted with?

Donations Granted

With these and other suggestions from our Fundraising Tips page, you're sure to get started on the right track. And be sure to look for resources specifically related to your cause. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty; writing a convincing fundraising proposal is just one step on the path to crowdfunding success!