Grant writing is no easy feat. Especially when you’re faced with a large application process that requires supporting documentation and evidence. Grant writing takes time, perseverance and dedication. Watch an interview with Dr. Laureen Husband where she gives a verbal overview of the grant process & how to be successful in your local area. In addition, by following these tips below, you’ll be ready for your next grant submission.
- Determine why you require funding
Before you apply for any funding opportunity, decide what the grant will be applied to and used for. To increase your chances of being funded, clearly describe the need that your project will meet in the community and how it will make a significant impact for good. By finding out this element of your project or your idea, you’ll reveal its likelihood of success, and even determine if it’s something already being covered. If it’s something that is already being covered, are you proposing to add new or additional elements? It’s vital to establish a case for support.
- Ensure eligibility
It would be heartbreaking to start or submit an application only to realize after so much hard work that your organization is not eligible. To avoid this, research the funding providers guidelines to identify what criteria they have established for eligibility. Sometimes, you have to make sure that your organization’s mission is in alignment with the work the funders are looking to support. Ensure you meet the criteria before applying. If you’re still unsure after reviewing the application, see if there is a contact provided for you to reach out to get clarity.
- Rally community and legitimate support
The more people who know and support what you’re doing, the better. Some grants ask for letters of support, so it’s best to connect with your community and show how your project or idea will benefit more than just one person. The value of your application is always increased significantly with the inclusion of community support, statistics, and evidence of the problem and sometimes solution. As you do your work, always think about who you can collaborate with because it is those individuals and organizations that will be able to add value and strengthen your application.
- Research the funding body and previous grant recipients
To increase your chances of success, research the funder and see what types of organizations they have funded in the past. If you have time, reach out to those recipients, and ask questions about their work and even go as far as asking them very specific questions about their grant writing experience for the applicable funding opportunity for lessons learned. Some funders are transparent about previous grants awarded and the types of answers they were looking for. Understanding the driving forces or the strategic goal behind a funding body will influence your case for support. Funders are looking to fund work that advances “their” causes whatever they may be.
- Be proactive about grants
Do not procrastinate and wait to write a grant at the last minute. The longer you have to prepare for a grant application, the more high-quality your submission will be. Review and revise the application format to meet the specifications of the request for funding (RFP). Ensure you set a realistic timeframe for each requirement and start gathering your assets, research, supporting documents, etc. ahead of time. The whole application process won’t seem as daunting if you’re proactive and organized. If you are able, join a grant sourcing platform like Grant Hub or Grant Watch which will help you know about funding opportunities ahead of time. If you miss a grant but know when it is typically released, jot that on your calendar for the upcoming year so that you will be able to apply for it in the future.
- Set some realistic goals and ideas for your application
Make sure your application is SMART – that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Besides writing a great proposal ensuring all the parameters in the RFP are covered, you are also proposing a project that you believe should receive funding over others. You also want to ensure your idea is unique for the issue you are trying to solve for. Some governmental agencies and foundations such as the CDC, Health and Human Services and others sometimes dictate what programs they would like applicants to replicate. Read the grant guidelines and ensure your organization and the community you serve are a great fit for the funding opportunity. Use this information to develop a compelling case for funding.
- A good budget always helps
Use the budget as an opportunity to demonstrate that your project or idea is well-planned, well-conceived, cost-effective and feasible. A well-developed budget will highlight how achievable your goals are and where the funding income will be applied. Include quotes where required, and list all sources of income, with matching income/expenditure totals. Make sure your budget is detailed and that everything outlined will be used in your project to support the work you are proposing. Be sure your math adds up, your budget makes sense and it supports the objectives you’re proposing to accomplish. If your grant proposal even hints at the possibility you’re a bad steward of money, your proposal will be eliminated.
- Write the proposal with life and passion
Remember that your grant will be reviewed by individuals who most likely know nothing about you or your organization. A case filled with enthusiasm will not only help drive points home, but it will standout amongst other applications. In saying that, you need to write for someone who may have limited time, so make sure those ideas maintain a clear and concise tone of voice. Don’t lose your passion. Use up-to-date data with clear language, and follow any complex points with a sentence that sums up the big picture. A grant application is about convincing your project or idea is exciting and worthy of funding. With that said, be sure to meet the writing specifications for page numbers or set number of words.
- Revise, revise again and revise with colleagues or outsiders
To develop a clear and concise application that communicates your project or idea effectively and passionately, there is no room for spelling or grammatical errors, or vague ideas. Use your network to provide a fresh set of eyes and help you address areas you may have left out. Ask those you trust to recommend a reviewer who can be impartial to help you with editing. Take feedback with an open mind, if there is something your “reviewer” is struggling with understanding, chances are so will the assigned grant reviewers. Be willing to rewrite for clarity and understanding. The best grant proposals are easy to read, concise and understandable. If they specify page length, page margins, typeface, etc., be sure to follow the specifications. They may not make sense to you or seem important, but not adhering to their requirements will most like get your application tossed aside. Do not go to all that work just to have your proposal rejected because of logistics.
- Submit ahead of time
Always plan to submit the application ahead of time using the guidelines provided. Remember, there are others out there who are also working to submit their applications. You want to avoid waiting until the last minute to avoid any unexpected errors, technical issues or life events that might prevent you from submitting on time. In addition, the stress associated with waiting until the last minute is not worth it!