• Tina Crouse

THE IMPACT LEAK – Grant writing: Good, Better, Best!

Updated: Nov 13

- What impacts the good we do?


Almost all nonprofit staff participate in grant writing by providing information for the proposal. Well, that’s how it should be; however, there are some organizations where it’s

‘all hands on deck’. Bad idea and even worse proposals.


From start to finish, a proposal needs a strategic approach. We mentioned that in a previous post and even provided a Download the Strategic Approach Worksheet (part of our ongoing Better Grant Writing blog post series). But it also needs an explanation of how to provide the ‘most’ to the funder without over-promising and returning the least.


When a funder puts out a RFP, they provide a list of criteria. Just meeting the criteria won’t get you the funding. Many orgs make this mistake right at the beginning. The criteria is the minimum needed to be awarded the grant but why should a funder give to those who are putting in the least? They don’t. In addition to the minimum criteria, they are looking for innovation, cost efficiency, discovery of new needs or new connections to a specific population. MOST nonprofits can do this but they fail to write about it in the proposal because they are too focused on meeting the minimum requirements. Others don’t meet the minimum but they try a persuasive, ‘our clients need it the most’ approach which doesn’t get them funding either. This is mostly because the first reader of the proposal is technology, not a human, and there are no algorithm matches for ‘x will happen to y if you don’t fund us’, none, ZERO, so this approach gets you nothing as well.


As the grant writer for your organization, your expertise is best suited to bringing out the most from your program managers and service delivery staff. They know how to deliver the programming and what can be achieved with the proper resources. It’s your job to get the resources. When you address how the program best meets the funder’s desires, you will be taking the proposal development closer to achieving that all important success – dollars.


A tool that helps staff to clearly see all that they can offer to a funder is a Good, Better, Best Chart. Using this type of simple tool allows staff to support the proposal development with specific information that enhances your submission. Even with limited word counts, you will be able to express your organization’s advanced skills and capacity thus making you a stronger candidate than organizations that submit the minimum. Not only are we all capable of more, we are often already doing it. Specifying and Emphasizing how your organization is best suited to use the funds will convince funders more than pleas or verbose box filling.


Doing a Good, Better, Best Analysis will make you a stronger candidate!

DOWNLOAD the worksheet here!

Download button

As a final thought, I’ll use an analogy that I’ve often used to express what Good, Better, Best means to funders and nonprofits. Imagine you are a bakery and the funder puts out a call for a chocolate cake. You can bake a chocolate cake, every bakery can (Minimum). Your cake has 3 layers and includes a fudge center (Better). Your cake is beautiful, it towers above the other cakes, it has sprinkles and has been the top favourite of customers for the past 5 years (Best). Well folks, which cake would you buy?



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Written By Tina Crouse

Tina Crouse is the CEO of ANSWER.it, a tech4good social enterprise on a mission to strengthen the nonprofit sector. Tina's career has spanned more than 2 decades in the charitable sector with a specialty in grant development.  She has created a number of ‘firsts’ in Canada and has worked at 3 tech companies, heading up 2 social enterprises.

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