If your nonprofit would benefit from grant-writing support, consider joining a service-learning partnership offered by Professor Lisa Dush of DePaul University.
This partnership will connect your organization with graduate students in Prof. Dush’s Grant and Proposal Writing course, which draws students from DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse and Graduate Certificate in Strategic Writing and Advancement for Nonprofits. Over approximately 5-7 weeks, the students will work with three Chicago-area nonprofit organizations to develop materials that will be of use for these organizations’ grant-seeking efforts.
Is Your Organization Right for this Partnership?
Over the years, the course has partnered with a broad range of organizations, in terms of mission and budget. Funders typically support nonprofits only if they have a few years of programming behind them (ideally with outcomes data), a stable budget without grants, audited financials, and an active strategic plan. If your organization does not meet these criteria, the partnership will likely not be successful. The best partnerships—those that advance nonprofits toward funded proposals—are typically with organizations that have already done some LOI or grant writing, even if unsuccessfully so.
What Will Our Organization Get from this Partnership?
Several students from the class will complete the following tasks, with your input:
- Research the Foundation Directory Online to identify funders that are appropriate for your organization and to determine which funders should be a priority
- Start or update a spreadsheet for tracking grant opportunities and deadlines
- Write 2-3 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) to potential funders
Additionally, at least one student in the course will typically choose to extend their work with your organization in their final project, resulting in a draft grant proposal to a specific funder.
What is the Personnel and Time Commitment?
- Before F Sept. 2: have a 30-minute meeting (by phone or Zoom) with Prof. Dush, to discuss your organization’s current grant-seeking practices and your priorities for the partnership. Before or after that meeting, send Prof. Dush prior grant-seeking materials that will be helpful for orienting students and that you are willing to share.
- W Sept. 21, 6-8:00 pm: Attend a meeting (on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, Zoom possible) with Prof. Dush’s class, to meet the students, describe your organization’s work, and discuss project and funder priorities
- W Oct. 12, 6-8:00 pm: Attend a meeting (on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, Zoom possible) with Prof. Dush’s class, to debrief on students’ funder research and prioritize funders and projects for their LOI-writing task
- Between Oct. 12-Oct. 31: be available by email or Zoom to give feedback on students’ LOIs
- OPTIONAL: If you’d like to keep working with a student or small team of students to develop a full proposal, this will require approximately 3-7 hours of consulting and feedback time between Oct. 26 and Nov. 16. You are also welcome, but not required, to attend the students’ final presentations, which happen on W Nov. 9, from 6-8 pm.
How Do We Sign Up?
Additional details about Prof. Dush’s past nonprofit partnership courses are available online at https://lisadush.com/nonprofit-projects/.