When visiting with an individual who may be a potential contributor to your organization, it is important to put yourself in their mindset, to walk in their shoes, so to speak. And when writing a grant proposal, it is important to yourself in the mindset of that grant making organization. What are they looking for? What do they consider to be strengths of a nonprofit? What are the values and strategic priorities that they hold dear?.
The Kresge Foundation is large and prominent national funder. On their website, they lay out the nine core values that they look for in all applicants (Source here). These are the core values that they hold dear as an institution, and what they want other organizations to reflect:
- Creating opportunity – How does your organization’s work expand opportunities and support for low-income people in order to improve their quality of life and enable them to participate more fully in the economic mainstream?
- Community impact – How will your organization and the proposed project benefit the larger community?
- Institutional transformation – Does your proposed project have the capacity to profoundly influence the overall organization and its operations? How?
- Risk – Tell us how your organization is using new and possibly untested approaches for addressing the needs or tensions of communities in flux. For example, have you developed new ways to broaden access to new immigrant communities?
- Environmental conservation – Describe how your project incorporates sustainable building practices, embodies the principles of sound land-use planning, and promotes environmental stewardship and/or historic preservation.
- Innovation – How might your project advance best practices in a particular field?
- Collaboration – Describe your organization’s promise for bringing multi-party, interdisciplinary approaches to problems that defy solution by a single sector.
- Under served geography – How has your project addressed locations with high concentrations of need and low financial capacity, such as poor rural areas or cities with a minimal tax base?
- Diversity – Describe how your organization’s staff and board reflect the racial, ethnic and gender composition of the population they serve.
These nine values ought to be universal to all nonprofits, no matter what industry or issues you focus on. One theme that I see common among the nine values is a sense of creativity, or innovation. What makes your group stand out from the pack? The other value is impact. How well do you serve the community that you purport to serve? How are you making a difference?
Source: Kresge Foundation