No one likes a whiner. If your grant proposal always begins with a negative picture and you use the same tired phrases or statistics to show need, you could be whining at your grant prospects, instead of encouraging them to cooperate with you in success.
Which one of these lead sentences makes you feel good about a mission to keep children in school?
1. “Over 20,000 school children in (your town) drop out of school each year. 64% of them engage in criminal activity, and 3% die as a result of that criminal activity”
2. “In the past year, 6100 more children successfully graduated from (your area)’s schools thanks to donor support of our “Stay In School, Succeed in Life” Program. Our donors take great personal satisfaction in knowing they were a major part of that success.”
Donors get from dozens to thousands of appeals each year, depending on their size and scope. They already recognize the need. They would not be donors unless they wanted to help, so start your proposal with a positive. Let them know that donors participating in your program have been able to have a positive impact. There is usually a place in every proposal for a statement of need. That’s the place to include the justification for the program, and to include the negatives you are trying to reverse. Leading off with a positive statement in either the executive summary or the program description sets a positive tone for the whole proposal.
Leading with a picture of success or achievement immediately improves the grant reviewer’s mood. It is human nature to want to be on a winning team that solves problems, so present your program as a success, not as a “thumb in the dike”.