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Application Components: Organizational Capacity

The bottom line here is not to be afraid to brag. Your neighborhood association has unique assets that no other organization does. Find the ones that relate to your proposal and describe them in detail here.

This is the thirteenth article in a series on grant writing. Read the introduction to the entire series.

Now that you have illuminated the need, described how your program addresses the need, and described how you will measure your impact, you need to prove that your organization is capable of delivering on the proposed program. New organizations should highlight the skills and experience of volunteers and members of the neighborhood association. Are any of your people uniquely qualified to administer the program through training and education? Have they administered programs like this before? Are they recognized in a related field? Anything you can point to in order to showcase personnel expertise and experience is useful here. If you are applying for an established program that you would like to expand, you can highlight successful past experiences to make a strong case. If the proposed program has received funding from other sources in the past, it is good practice to discuss your ability to manage funding and execute programs as promised successfully.

This is also a good place to showcase the dedication to the cause of the people in your organization. Most neighborhood associations rely heavily on volunteers, and a reviewer may be of the opinion that volunteers are not as reliable as paid staff. Not only can you help the reviewer understand that your volunteers are dedicated, but turn that dedication into an asset in the proposal. What other programs have your volunteers or members diligently participated in? Have members and neighbors tried to address the need in other ways? Do you have regular meetings that are well attended? Any proof you have that there will be dedication to the program will help the reviewer understand you have the workforce and passion to get the job done.

The organizational capacity section is also a good place to highlight community support for your association or program. Do you have a large number of volunteers and members in your neighborhood association? Do you have any unique assets that will help deliver a high-quality program? Do you have other sources of funding to help with sustainability? That last question is particularly of interest to most funders. You are more likely to receive funding if you have already secured other sources. Funders want to know that your program is sustainable and most do not want to be the only source of funding. Some funders will even require that you provide a match in cash or other resources. The good news is, even if you do not have a lot of cash to contribute, you probably have in-kind resources to match. In-kind resources are volunteers, existing assets like equipment or buildings, and donated professional services. Not only are these great items to think about for matching, but they highlight community support and demonstrate sustainability.

You may have the instinct to point out that you are in great need of funding and downplay any other assets to help with the “need” of the program. But remember, the funder is not interested in helping your organization overcome their needs, they are interested in helping overcome the community’s needs. The more likely it seems that you have the resources to make a meaningful impact, the more likely you are to receive funding.