Arrgh! What to say? Alaskans requesting Tier 1 grants sometimes struggle with the narrative portion of the application. In this blog post, Senior Program Associate Jeff Baird offers sound advise on the nuances of the Tier 1 narrative.

One of my favorite duties is fielding inquiries from nonprofit partners and helping weigh the pros and cons of a potential Tier 1 request. A question that commonly comes up during these discussions is what to include in the project narrative.

The online application has two sections dedicated to discussing the request: the “project description” and “needs and status” sections. Both parts can be brief (500 words or less). The former asks what you plan to do, and the latter asks for a description of the current situation and how this request will improve it. While there is no single correct way to write a project narrative, we do look for specific information when reviewing applications. Below are some tips to consider when drafting these sections, particularly for capital, and capacity building requests.

• The “project description” section is probably the shortest of the two: this is a high-level view of what will be done as a result of the grant. For example, in a request for a new van, describe what will be purchased and whether this is a vehicle replacement or addition.

• The “needs and status” section is where the bulk of your effort might best be spent. Start off by describing the current situation and explain why it presents challenges to the organization/clients. Next, describe what you are asking for and explain how this request will improve the situation. Rasmuson Foundation invests in projects that provide broad benefits to Alaskans, so it’s important to articulate how the project does this. While applicants do a great job describing need, the Foundation wants to also understand how the project benefits or makes a difference in the lives of Alaskans. Last, describe the systems your nonprofit has in place to care for the item once funded. If asking for something that would normally require business planning, let us know have one. Requests for equipment or vehicles should discuss where the items will be stored, how they will be cared for and if funds are being set aside for maintenance and replacement.

So there you have it, the nuances of a Tier 1 narrative. If you have any questions about this, give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss your project with you.