Nonprofit Program Design and Winning Grants

Nonprofit program design is a vital component to winning grants. Both foundation and government funders read a ton of grant applications. They can tell if a nonprofit program design is fully developed and is likely to be successful or not. You can’t wrap up a half-baked cookie as a good gift, and you can’t wrap up a half-baked program as a fundable grant.

The most important components of program design for your grant applications are:

  1. It all starts with the need in the community and the target population. The services proposed should be clearly linked to the need identified in the community.
  2. The services are designed to reduce barriers for program participants.
  3. The services are designed to address the social issue you are trying to solve, and there is reason to believe that these specific services will have an impact.
  4. You will be able to measure if these services are addressing the social issue you are trying to solve for your participants in your community.

I started my career in federal grants, where program design was the #1 factor of success. For example, one federal SAMHSA grant was to provide substance abuse prevention to college students. The program design needed to make sense for the target population of college students. The original proposed design was in person and phone call interventions. I helped the client brainstorm other approaches to reach college students like social media and text messages. We also built outcome measures around actually reducing problematic substance use among participants. With a program design that makes sense for the target population and metrics that showed the impact, this grant was fully funded and was one of only 20 awards across the whole country.

If you need help with your program design to win more grants, come talk to us.