Non-Profit Project Presentation Examples
Research shows that successful grant applications include highly-specific and detailed information about how a program/project meshes with the grantor’s focus, information about how the nonprofit has already made an impact – and the additional impact that will be made by funding their current project, how the grant monies will be spent and by whom, and how the program/project will be quantitatively measured for success. Additionally, proving that the nonprofit has strong leadership in place and a solid financial base are also important. The more detailed and specific that these applications are, the more likely they are to earn the grants. Anecdotal evidence shows that applications that include evidence in the form of videos or photographs will be more likely to catch grant reviewers’ eyes, though no quantitative data to prove this could be found.
Examples of award-winning grant applications that have earned nonprofits significant awards include those from The Hidden Genius Project, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Citizens’ Climate Education, The Museum of Flight, the Center for Community Progress, and Working Films.
LARGE GRANTS FOR US NONPROFITS: OVERVIEW
Our research showed that the majority of large grants, like those of $1 M or more, are most often awarded to major organizations or institutions, like universities, national charities, or nonprofits serving in multiple regions (or serving multiple – or typically under-served – populations). The MacArthur Foundation, which awards a large selection of grants of varying amounts across a wide range of projects, is an example. In 2018 so far, their largest grant awards have gone to institutions like Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry ($500K) and Yale University School of Law ($800K).
Larger grants are much less likely to be granted to smaller, more-localized organizations serving smaller regions or populations. Of the organizations receiving the larger grants, many times these organizations received grant funding from the same grantors – in lower amounts – in previous years. For example, Kartemquin Films has won 10 grants from the MacArthur Foundation, including their first two awards, $200,000 and $75,000, which were both awarded in 2010. The film company received its largest grant from the foundation in 2017 – the $750,000 award for their Filmmaker Programs, “which provide holistic support to nonfiction filmmakers at all stages of their careers”. Since they are a film company, their proposals each included not only the required paperwork (typical grant proposal info), but also video representations of what the grant would support. Video seems to be one of the most common (added) elements seen in successful grant proposals, so we’ll talk more about this later within our case studies.
More information on what types of programs and organizations for the arts are funded in the US – as well as how they are funded and by whom – can be found in this publication from the National Endowment for the Arts. Though last-published in 2012, this publication is the premier informational for nonprofits to utilize in discovering the best ways to get funding for their programs.
In researching grant recipients, it became clear that there were very few granting organizations that provide the actual proposals submitted by organizations seeking grants, and the organizations submitting the proposals do not publish these either. Many of the full proposals publicly available for other organizations to use as examples for writing their own successful grants are from years outside the scope of your interest, like these from AZA for Conservation Grant Funds (CGF), which range from 2005 to 2013, for example. Additionally, others are for grant amounts much smaller than your identified target ($1M), like these from Brandeis ($350) or these from Imagine Fund ($5000).
Despite these findings, we were able to track down three proposals that met all your requirements. In each of these case studies (detailed in the first section below), both the granting organizations and the recipients are US-based, with the recipients being nonprofits, and the awards being $1M or more. We have detailed all publicly-available information on the proposals submitted to win these grants for you below.
LARGE GRANTS: PROPOSAL CASE STUDIES
These include grant recipients The Hidden Genius Project, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Citizen’s Climate Education. As noted previously, all publicly-available information is provided for you below.
CASE STUDY: THE HIDDEN GENIUS PROJECT
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $1 M
- OVERVIEW: In late 2017, The Hidden Genius Project, “an organization working to increase the representation of young black males in the [tech] industry, ” won a $1 M grant from Google Grants. This money will go toward helping the program expand into new cities, to hire/train additional staff, and to help the program grow. Google Grants learned about this project when they were in the Bay Area Top 10 for the 2015 Google Impact Challenge. The Hidden Genius Project won $500K in that competition (like many other large-grant recipients, they have won multiple grants from the same institution), and caught the eye of Google.org Principal Justin Steele – leading to the 2017 award.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: In addition to acing the traditional grant application (which was not publicly available), The Hidden Genius Project created a nearly-5-minute video detailing what their organization does and why they are worth funding. The video included testimonials from young men involved in the project and those working with the project (like the founders and educators), as well as specific information about what the participants learn about and experience during the 800-hour, 15-week program. It is professionally produced and includes video of the program in action, and explores how the participants not only get the tech-related experience they need to be successful, but also about how the program gives them a greater sense of belonging to a community and skills that will help them create success for the rest of their lives (like entrepreneurship). No other information could be located on the grant application submitted to win this award.
CASE STUDY: ANNIE E. CASE FOUNDATION
- GRANT YEAR: 2015
- GRANT AMOUNT: $4.5 M
- OVERVIEW: In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization “devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social, and health outcomes,” won a $4.5 M Social Innovation Fund Grant from the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS). This grant provided funding for the organization’s “Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential” program.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: The Corporation for National & Community Service provides full information on all submitted applications, including the Application Cover, the Application Narratives, and the Feedback given on their application. The narratives included 53 pages (of standard grant language) detailing everything about the program, including: program design (with rationale and approach), the reasons the program is necessary, the activities involved in the project, the expected outcomes, and what strategies and evidence will be used to gauge success. CNCS Reviewers provide specific feedback to organizations on the strengths and weaknesses of their applications, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their overall programs. For this application, strengths included: (A) Providing exceptional evidence the organization has the capacity to ensure the success of their program; (B) Having clear understanding of the steps necessary for the program to be successful – with a clear outline and plan relating to the steps; (C) Having a strong plan for providing technical assistance where needed; (D) Having a clear, detailed budget that includes projected costs; (E) Having a “well-defined narrative describing the history of their experiences in managing and supporting evaluations of past funded program models”; (F) Having identified and strong methodologies for evaluating the success of their program against the stated goals. Note: It does not appear that any other information or items were provided with the application for this grant.
CASE STUDY: CITIZENS’ CLIMATE EDUCATION
- GRANT YEAR: 2018
- GRANT AMOUNT: $1 M
- OVERVIEW: Citizens’ Climate Education, a “nonprofit that helped organize a bipartisan Congressional caucus on climate change,” won the $1 M, two-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation “to educate and empower citizens working on national solutions to climate change”. Like many other organizations, this large grant comes on the heels of a $500K grant awarded to the nonprofit from the MacArthur Foundation the previous year. The earlier grant allowed for the support of 1644 meetings with congresspersons, 4308 publications on the topic, and helped to triple congressional membership in the caucus in 2017.
- ELEMENTS OF THE PROPOSAL: Although a search of the nonprofit’s website, the MacArthur Foundation’s website, Probublica’s and Guidestar’s profiles of the nonprofit, no application could be found. It is clear that the nonprofit completed the standard grant application, and likely provided other media (like videos introducing their Citizens’ Climate Lobby, or other videos) to supplement it, but it is not clear just what they submitted. However, since this organization has won several MacArthur Foundation Grants, we turned to the grantor to find out what they require from organizations to which they award grants, in hopes of providing useful information for you. The MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions are significant grants given to advance progress and foster long-term impact on some of society’s biggest issues. These organizations must be working in fields related to the foundation’s goals, must show long track records of being successful, must “exhibit strong leadership and governance, have demonstrated impact that is likely to continue into the future, and are ready to implement a plan for expansion or sustainability”. Additionally, the organizations must prove they are financially secure and under “stable financial management,” as well as being “equipped to deploy resources at the scale of these grants” (in this case, this was provable through the nonprofit’s GuideStar and ProPublica profiles, as well as included – in detail – on the application). Organizations’ applications that detail each of these items clearly, and with plenty of proof, are sure to be successful in receiving the awards. No other information could be found on the application submitted by Citizen’s Climate Change for this grant.
ADDITIONAL FINDINGS / GRANT PROPOSALS
To augment these findings, we have included several other (less-detailed) case studies of nonprofits who have received smaller grants, along with the publicly-available information on their proposals. Although these grants were for lower amounts than you requested, as noted previously, our research showed that it is much more likely that a nonprofit of your size / focus will be likely to win smaller grants than larger ones. It is our hope that you find these additional case studies helpful.
CASE STUDY: THE MUSEUM OF FLIGHT
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $150k
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: GrantStation provides several examples of grant proposals that were successful in winning the grants. One of them, for The Museum of Flight Campaign, earned the nonprofit $150K toward refurbishing part of the museum. Their proposal was in the form of a letter (response to proposal) and included a detailed overview of the museum’s history, what the monies would be used for (why funding was needed), and the population served by the museum. It included a projected budget of the refurbishment project (though not very detailed, admittedly), images of previous restorations done at the museum, and an outline of the museum’s operating budget for the previous year. This was the least-detailed grant proposal we found, and it only included the basics, though it was enough to win the nonprofit the grant award.
CASE STUDY: CENTER FOR COMMUNITY PROGRESS
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $894K
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: The Center for Community Progress won a 2017 Arts & Culture Award from the Kresge Foundation. The Center for Community Progress is “the only national nonprofit dedicated eliminating blight … [and] works to ensure properties viewed as liabilities are transformed into assets that benefit vulnerable populations. This three-year grant provides project support to the center’s work to improve policies and programs that tackle vacant, abandoned and deteriorated properties in Detroit to strengthen traditional residential neighborhoods.” Although no submitted proposals could be found for this grant, it is clear that this organization’s application included information as detailed as what’s found on their website. It is certain they were easily able to prove that they have made a long-term impact already, are highly active in the areas in which the grant is focused, are led by a strong team, and are hold to high standards of accountability. Each of these is an important element in being successful in winning a grant.
CASE STUDY: WORKING FILMS
- GRANT YEAR: 2017
- GRANT AMOUNT: $900K
- OVERVIEW & ELEMENTS: The Wilmington-based nonprofit, which “uses short films and documentaries to raise public awareness on important issues” facing society, was awarded the grant “to launch a program to impact communities across the US through the use of film”. (WILMINGTON) The grant will focus on a new program, “Docs in Action” – which prioritizes funding for minority filmmakers – and will allow the nonprofit to fund its filmmakers for the first time. This nonprofit is “one of only 15 nonprofit organizations nationwide selected for the grant from the MacArthur Foundation Journalism and Media Program”. According to the MacArthur Foundation, to win this grant, the program would have had to prove, among other standard elements, that it encourages and supports “participatory civic media” – or films that are “designed to expand and accelerate citizens’ participation in our democracy”.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AWARD-WINNING GRANT PROPOSALS
In addition to the best practices provided in your other query, we strongly suggest that your grant proposals meet the following recommendations:
(1) ENSURE COMPATIBILITY: The most important aspect of successfully winning a grant is to ensure that your program or project is exactly-compatible with the grantor’s requirements. Identifying this information from the grantor’s website (like this example from the Arts.gov site) and the grant submission documentation – then tailoring your approach to show direct compatibility is key. For example, let’s say your organization was applying for a Culture Grant from the Hearst Foundation. Begin by reading the overview of what the grants fund, then check out the funding priorities of the grantor, as well as the funding limitations. Then, review the evaluation process grants will undergo, and review past grant recipients to see what they’ve done. Each of these steps will ensure that you are the best-prepared for writing your own grant application.
(2) MIRROR THE LANGUAGE: In addition to ensuring compatibility, your application should mirror the language in grant documentation as closely as possible. This allows grantors to see the direct correlation between what they want to fund – and your program/project.
(3) INCLUDE ALL NOTABLE ITEMS: Ensure that your application includes every item noted in the proposal documentation. For each item, make sure that you have included detailed explanations of how your program meets the requirements of the grantor, as well as specifically outlines how the monies will be used (and when / by whom), and how you will prove that you have met your goals as intended. Proving that your organization has already made measurable impact – and that your application includes how this has been done – and how it will be done if these grant monies are awarded – will be imperative to reaching success.
(4) BE SPECIFIC W/ GOALS & MEASUREMENTS: The more specific you are with your goals, not only in what you intended to achieve, but in how those goals match the grantor’s foci, is also highly important. Additionally, specifically proving how you will measure your achievements – and ensuring that your methods are sound, logical, and quantitative – are the keys here.
ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
Research does not turn up any significant findings about the types of proposals that are most successful in earning nonprofits large (or even small) grants. Alternatively, research shows that ensuring your grants meet specific qualifications (like those listed in the Recommendations section above) – and thoroughly outline that information within the application – has proven to be the best strategy for winning grants. One item of note is that several of the major grants found in our research included videos within their grant applications (along with the standard application documentation), though we were not able to find any definitive proof that this strategy is more successful than others.
There is no research to support that a particular type of application is more likely to win a grant than any other. Instead, grant-seekers should ensure that the grants they are vying for mirror what their intentions are with the monies, and that their methodologies in undertaking their projects – and proving those projects are worthwhile – are sound and thoroughly explained using language that mirrors the grant submission documentation.