Top 5 Most Frequent Mistakes 1) Trying to fit a social service project into an economic development box Although we do give points for contributing to the quality of life for Humboldt Residents, the primary purpose of the fund is economic development and that should be the purpose of your project. Economic development as a side benefit is not a strong project for Headwaters. For example, a project to provide emergency shelter for the homeless. This is a critical community project but the purpose is not to improve the economy and create jobs – even in the long term. 2) Trying to hide the project’s purpose behind dense academic or scientific language in an attempt to impress the Headwaters Fund Board and/or being too verbose The Headwaters Fund Board wants to understand the story of what you want to accomplish and why – not an academic treatise on the background of the field you are applying for a grant in. Avoid “grant speak” and jargon. 3) Wild or improbable unsubstantiated projections for the benefits of your project. We have heard things like “this project will benefit every single person in Humboldt county’s economic situation” or “This could easily create 100’s of jobs in the next few years.” Job creation claims should be substantiated and outcomes of the project concrete and preferably measurable. You can describe the qualitative benefits – how you will improve the quality of life for residents, but some aspects of our outcomes should be quantitative. 4) Lack of private industry support Successful proposals must show the support of the business sector. This is typically demonstrated through letters of support. You may include up to 5 letters of support with your proposal and these are very important in demonstrating that you have widespread community support for the project and are collaborating with the private sector . 5) Proposals which are really asking for ongoing operating support for your organization. We know this is a hard one for non-profits and understand how frustrating it is to find operational funding. However, the Headwaters Fund, like most funders does not want to fund ongoing staff salaries and overhead. We limit our overhead cost in project budgets to 12%. Your project should be something which is a new or expanded program which will become sustainable after the period of the grant funding.
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