Dear fellow missionaries,

I recently was asked to review a “letter of intent/project description” written by a missionary for a project that serves women and children.  The form allowed for 1 page of writing.

You can imagine my surprise (and concern) to find, upon review, that nearly one-half of the letter was taken up describing the missionary’s congregation, its history of serving women and children, and its commitment to this part of the world.

While the commitment of one’s congregation is important, that importance should only be highlighted after the foundation knows what the project is.  Then the missionary can suggest that they are just the right people to make the project work.

To focus the grant applicant on the important issues first, our recently-launched Grant Writing 101 course included a process called NSMO (pronounced  “nizmo”).  Use NSMO as your guide for the core of your project description and then add on other attractive elements-such as your congregation’s commitment-after establishing this core description first.

N is for Need.  Give the foundation an understanding of the compelling nature of the need that the project will address.  Indicate, where possible, that this compelling need is currently unmet by any other project or missionary presence.

      EXAMPLE:  The incidence of HIV in the rural area of Country X is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

S is for Solution.  Establish clearly and with conviction that your project offers a solution to this need, based on your review, the endorsement of the people it will serve, and objective data available to you.

      EXAMPLE:  A multi-media campaign will greatly increase of awareness of HIV prevention strategies.

M is for Method.  While ‘method’ may seem like the same as solution, it is more specific.  It lets the foundation know that among the possible project choices, the one you have chosen is deemed to be the best. 

      EXAMPLE: The use of media is shown to capture a larger audience than in-clinic education.

O is for Outcomes.  Where possible, the result of implementing your project should always be measurable and these outcomes will be reported back to the foundation.

      EXAMPLE:  We estimate that 10,000 women and 5,000 men were exposed to the campaign.

NSMO is a framework that can and should be applied to every application request, letter of intent, abstract, or full application document.  It will help you organize your thoughts and may even cause you to rethink or refine the project you hope to get funded.

MPS sends its best wishes to you and your amazing work serving others!