I had a meeting recently at a large funding organization that makes grants by committees that are dedicated to various parts of the world, such as an Africa Committee, a Latin America Committee, et cetera.

At one point in our meeting, one of the committee directors, without any prompting from me, simply stated that “I wish more applications would give me a feeling for the needs and challenges they confront in their ministry, I want to understand what it is really like where they are working.”

The funder’s desire, for us to “give them a feeling” concerns how we describe the SETTING of our Project Application.   It is quite understandable for each of you to take this for granted, because it is something that you live each day, BUT do not underestimate the need, even for sophisticated funders such as I was meeting with, for an informative description of the setting in which you work.

I provide two illustrations below, which capture the two important elements you need to include as you describe the setting of your Project Proposal: 1. The uniqueness of your setting and 2. The vital and unmet need your project addresses.

Here are examples of what I refer to, using fictional congregations and locations. I have highlighted what I think is the language that speaks to the uniqueness and vitality I mention above:


The Sisters of Missionary Heart seek a grant to support their school in Missionville, a remote town in XYZ Mission Country. Missionville has only 1 paved road and is 45 miles from the nearest village. Sisters of the Missionary Heart are the only qualified teachers in this area, where the literacy rate is estimated to be at only 25%. Without formal education the children of Missionville have virtually no chance of future employment and will most likely remain subsistence farmers like their parents, continuing a cycle of poverty and hunger.


The Brothers of Kindness seek a grant to establish a medical clinic in a distressed area of Giantville, a city of nearly 10 million people in XYZ country.   The Brothers work in Forgottenland, an overlooked area of Giantville populated by slums and other shanty-style shacks. Since the Brothers arrived in 2007 they have not witnessed any medical personnel visiting the families of Forgottenland, where a simple wound often leads to dangerous infection because of lack of medical care. The Brothers have located a centrally located facility where the clinic could be established and have also engaged several physicians and nurses who would be willing to make monthly visits to provide “Clinic Weekends” for the sick of Forgottenland.

Don’t forget, even the smartest grant-makers with the largest hearts do not understand the reality of your mission as you do- they need your help and your descriptions to enter the SETTING and appreciate the value of your proposal.

As always, our most hopeful regards and gratitude for all that you do!