As a fundraiser, your goal is to win the attention of potential donors and convince them to give to your cause. To accomplish this, you’ll need to come up with a succinct description of your organization’s accomplishments. Because many grant writers believe they have to summarize every element of their complete proposal in less than 250 words to make it compelling, the summary section of a grant proposal might appear very overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be at that level of difficulity! On the contrary, with an easy-to-follow plan and a few helpful suggestions, your next summary section may be the most engaging you’ve ever composed.
Purpose of Summary, And How Do You Create One?
Let’s begin by discussing why we need to produce a grant proposal summary, before we go into how to do it.
The outline may form the donor’s first impression of your grant proposal. The purpose of the summary is to persuade and sell your solution. Your summary should be appealing, convincing, “knock their socks off,” and help the donor decide right away whether they want to work with you and invest in your organization.
This conclusion brings your idea to life and entices the donor to learn more about your project or initiative. It’s not about attempting to describe your entire grant application in detail for them; that would be too much, too soon, but the other components of your application should start to fill in any gaps.
Components of a Summary
We’ve compiled a list of the five fundamental components we believe you should think about when crafting your summary.
#1 – Beginning
Have you ever been stuck in a book or a film and, after a few pages or minutes, had an unpleasant feeling that it would be terrible or that it wasn’t your style? It happens, and it’s remarkable how quickly we’re ready to move on to something else if the beginning few sentences of our summary are uninteresting, wrong, or ineffective.
Likewise, if the first few lines of your compelling fundraising letters are boring, unhelpful, or simply inaccurate (as they so frequently are), a donor may choose to skip over you to the following proposal.
Your opening should grab their attention and be compelling. To do this, we propose that you avoid anything about your company in your introduction and make it all about the tale’s protagonist. Because grant reviewers are people with human feelings and emotions, please find a way to connect with them and get them to pay attention. Make them immediately fall in love with your hero by engaging them emotionally in order to achieve your fundraising goal.
In a previous How to build a strong donor relationship using technology | CommunityForce blog article, we revealed how to tell your grant application’s powerful story in the most successful manner possible. We referred to the “hero” who personifies the clients or community you serve and is at the heart of your narrative. They’re the characters that drive your tale and those whose needs need to be met by your funding. Make sure donors understand why your hero requires assistance or a solution to a problem before diving into your opening.
#2 – The Problem
The “Problem” is the portion of the summary where you should clearly demonstrate your knowledge of your clients’ or community’s need. You should define what problem exists and explain why it requires an immediate response in a clear and concise manner. The summary may contain some of your most important research and evidence that it uncovers in writing.
Make certain that your attention remains focused on the hero of the narrative and the necessity they fulfill, rather than on your company.
#3 – The Solution
This is where your business can make a difference. Like most grant writers, you’ll probably want to give the whole thing in one sitting to ensure that the donor understands everything. The primary reason for writing a proposal summary is to entice the reader to read further. It’s not the place for all of the information. Still, it’s where you should pull back the curtain slightly so they can see enough that they are intrigued while also making clear what the organization plans to do if charitable donations become available.
Make sure that your solution is written at a high level of detail, that you avoid using acronyms to keep your reader from being alienated, and that anybody, even if they are unfamiliar with the term “business,” can see how your solution works and how it addresses the problem stated in the introduction.
This summary portion may also be used to highlight the cost of the solution and the financial demand you will be making on the donor. You won’t have any opportunity to walk them through your project’s or program’s total budget in this section, just as you wouldn’t in other parts of the summary. Still, you will be able to explain what significant portions of your solution cost and how much of an impact your donor will have on that solution. If you’ve got more partners, contributors, or investors involved, now would be a good time to let them know.
#4 – The Credibility
What kind of credibility or authority does your organization have in order to effectively bring the solution? When preparing your summary for prospective donors, make sure it demonstrates that your team is qualified and able to manage the program or project, as well as how your experience and leadership set you apart from other organizations that may cater to the same target group.
The summary would be even more effective if you highlighted a few key reasons why the firm will be successful in completing this project and generating a greater social impact for participants.
#5 – The Donor
The final component of the summary gives space for the grant writer to connect the project’s goals with how they align with the donor’s purpose or mission. As with everything else in the document, clearly and concisely demonstrate how your organization’s work complements what the donor wants to achieve. To illustrate how collaboration makes sense, you’ll need to be familiar with the donor’s goals, objectives, and overall purpose for their fund. This will help your summary solidify for a donor that a genuine difference may be made together.
Summary, How & When?
When and how should you write your summary? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. On both sides, there are successful grant writers. However, some people find it more straightforward and more effective to complete the summary first since it becomes the foundation for the rest of their application in that case.
Others believe it is best to put off writing the conclusion until later so they can be sure to express the main ideas of the proposal adequately. Because proposals go through many modifications and iterations, we would most often choose to wait until the other parts of the proposal are complete.
When you start, it’s about figuring out what works best with your style. Then, as you continue to develop your writing skills, you’ll probably discover a rhythm for yourself. In the world of grant proposals, if you’re just getting started, we recommend trying both methods to see which one suits your approach best.
Creating an Impactful Impression
Your theory forms your donors’ first impression of you. It’s your chance to impress them and entice them about the opportunity your organization is proposing with a concise yet impactful document with a direct mail. You will be able to grab their attention quickly, demonstrate that you understand the problem, suggest a viable solution, and show how your program or project aligns with their goals and objectives if you include all of the components discussed in this blog article. These are the ingredients you’ll need to make a solid and enduring impression on your donor, one that will entice them to dig deeper into your complete proposal and one that might lead to the funding you require to effectuate change in your neighborhood.
Whether you’re a startup organization or a leading corporation, CommunityForce provides fully customizable, all-in-one online grant management solutions to maximize your efficiency, simplify complex processes, and improve collaboration so you can focus on increasing your impact. We’ve helped organizations streamline their entire process no matter the size and scope of their giving.