Tips for proposal writers and nonprofits

Richard Hendry, Program Officer with the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, gave an informative and, as always, entertaining, talk at the Dec. 6 meeting of the Charleston Area Grant Professionals (CAGP). His practical and very useful advice for grant writers and nonprofits, is always well-received at CAGP meetings. The talk was titled: "10 Things Non-Profits Say That Drive Me Nuts."

He emphasized that the proposal for a grant should be for a service that fills a niche that no one else fills. In other words, it creatively fills a need and does not duplicate what others are doing.

Other points:

-- Avoid including excess printed materials such as brochures and pamphlets with the proposal. Keep proposals concise and provide exactly what is asked for by the grantmaker.

-- Engage board members in actions that can advance the work of the nonprofit or organization.

-- Avoid voluminous and overly ambitious strategic plans

-- Be visible out in the community and let people know what you are doing. Don't be the "best kept secret in town."

-- Use library resources such as the Foundation Center grants database to research new prospects for grant sources that might not have been considered or even known about before. Don't just get training, but actively use the database.

-- There is money out there for operational expenses.

-- Avoid the latest buzz words and sweeping generalities.

-- Be careful to craft a good mission statement that hones in on the mission without vague, feel-good generalities that could apply to any number of other organizations or mission statements.

-- Don't depend on one or two major funding sources.

-- Explore and get ideas and useful information from the Web page of SCANPO (The South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations) and also the Web page for the Coastal Community Foundation (

-- It's good to go to professional meetings but don't rely on them or overdo it.