A Crash Course in Grant Writing
And there are a lot of groups and organizations with a lot of money that are ready/willing/able to fund the right project. What’s the ‘right’ project? The one they have an interest in funding. “Interests groups” know how important it is to get certain things accomplished (e.g., to get more minorities earning their master’s degree; to get more health care students to train in rural areas; to get more American Indians trained as health care professionals, etc.). Thus, if you have the passion to do a ‘good work’ — funders have the money to help you. They will be your partner in ‘problem solving.’
Here are the 7 components to a grant: (1) Project Title/Cover Page, (2) Project Overview, (3) Background Information/Statement of the Problem, (4) Project Detail, (5) Needed Resources, (6) Evaluation Plan, and (7) Appendices. Let’s look at each in turn:
==> Project Title/Cover Page–
· Be clear and unambiguous (do not make it “cute”).
· Clearly reflect the focus of your proposal.
· Do not attempt to use the title as an abstract of your entire proposal.
· Do not use fancy report covers, expensive binding, or other procedures that may send the message that you do things rather expensively!
· Includes signatures of key people in your organization (Department Head, Supervisor, Contracts Officer, etc.) and groups/organizations you will be collaborating with.
· Paint a quick picture for the reader of the key idea(s) of your project.
· Remove words from your title that really are not necessary for understanding.
· Should look professional and neat.
· Use only a single sentence for your title. If you simply can’t use one sentence, try using a two part title with the parts separated by a colon.
==> Project Overview–
· Be specific and concise.
· Do not go into detail on aspects of your proposal that are further clarified at a later point in your proposal.
· Establish the framework so that the rest of the proposal has a frame of reference.
· Highlight some of the interests of other organizations you will be collaborating with.
· Paint a picture of your proposal in the mind of the reader.
· Prepare the Project Overview after you have completed the entire proposal; let it be your last piece of writing and then insert it at the beginning of your proposal.
· Show your knowledge of the organization from which you are requesting funds.
· This is an Executive Summary.
==> Background Information/Statement of the Problem–
· Cite previous projects and studies that are similar to what you are proposing.
· Clearly indicate how the problems that will be addressed in your project will help the potential funding agency in fulfilling their own goals and objectives.
· Have a friend, outside of your area of focus/expertise, read your proposal to make sure that the language is readable.
· Include a well-documented statement of the need/problem that is the basis for your project.
· Keep the funding agency in your mind as a “cooperating partner” committed to the same concerns that you are.
· Make sure the potential funding agency is committed to the same needs/problems that your proposal addresses.
· Minimize the use of abbreviations, colloquial expressions, confusing language, jargon, redundant phrases, and trendy or “in” words.
· Show how your project will extend the work that has been previously done.
· Show the funding agency that you know what you are proposing because you are familiar with what has preceded you.
· This is a review of Relevant Literature.
· Use the problem statement to show that your proposed project is definitely needed and should be funded.
==> Project Detail: Goals and Objectives–
· Differentiate between your goals and your objectives – and include both.
· Insure that there is considerable overlap between the goals and objectives for your proposal and the goals and objectives of the funding organization.
· Present measurable objectives for your project; describe your objectives in measurable ways.
==> Project Detail: Clientèle–
· Clarify why it is important for the funding organization to be concerned about your clientele.
· Clearly indicate how assisting your clientele is in the best interests of the funding organization.
· Include specific information on the population or clientele that your project is focused on.
· Involve members of the clientele group in the preparation of the proposal.
· List the other agencies involved with this clientele group.
· Show that you have the support of the clientele group to move ahead with the project.
==> Project Detail: Methods–
· Be explicit and state exactly how the methods you have chosen will fulfill your project’s objectives and help deal with the needs/problems on which your proposal is focused.
· Clearly indicate how the methods that will be used will allow the outcomes of your project to have value for others beyond your project.
· Clearly present the innovative aspects of your idea.
· Include the collaborative relationships your project will be developing with other cooperating groups.
· Link the methods you describe in this section with the objectives you have previously defined.
· Show how the methods for your project encourage groups to join together in dealing with the issues/concerns your project addresses.
· Show how the specific methods you are proposing for your project are important to your unique clientele.
==> Project Detail: Staff/Administration–
· Clarify how each of the roles are essential to the success of the project.
· Describe the roles of the different people associated with your project and the importance of each.
· Include names, titles, experience, and qualifications of your key people.
· Show that you have excellent people who are committed to the project.
· Show the grantor that your people are working together as a part of a team.
==> Needed Resources: Personnel–
· Consider having a number of part-time staff rather than one or two full-time staff.
· Identify those people who will actually be paid from the grant.
· Include short descriptions of each of the people who will be involved in your project and supported by the funding.
· Notify people who you identify in your Personnel section and receive their approval before sending in the proposal.
==> Needed Resources: Facilities–
· Describe any existing facilities that will be used for the project.
· Indicate how much additional money the prospective funding agency would have to provide if these facilities were not donated.
· Provide a brief description of the facilities that will be used for the project.
==> Needed Resources: Equipment/Supplies/Communication–
· Do some research on the actual cost of the equipment you specify – don’t guess.
· Include funds for hosting some form of workshop where you can bring together other professionals who are interested in conducting a similar type of project in their area.
· List all types of equipment that may be needed for a funded project (e.g., computer/monitor/printer, desks/chairs/tables, intercom/office telephone system, lamps, photocopy machine, specialized equipment for fulfilling project objectives, tape recorder, telephone conferencing equipment, video cassette recorder and television monitor, letterhead stationery, etc.).
==> Needed Resources: Budget–
· Check with the agency to see if they have required budget categories that they want you to use.
· Consider asking for a small amount of funding for the first phase of the project.
· Have someone else in your organization review your budget to see how realistic you are.
· Make your budget realistic; think through exactly what you will need from the funding agency to carry out the project and establish your budget around this amount.
· Organize your budget around a set of meaningful categories that work for the project you are proposing (e.g., communication, consultants, equipment, evaluation, indirect costs, instruction, materials preparation, other expenses, personnel, rental of facilities, supplies, travel).
· Specify what you expect to achieve during this “minimal funding phase” and when you will be returning to the funding agency to ask for funds for the next phase.
==> Evaluation Plan–
· Describe how you will decide whether or not your project has been successful (i.e., achieved its objectives).
· If you plan to use a survey or questionnaire to help in evaluating the success of your project you may want to include in the Appendices a draft of what you are considering for the questionnaire/survey.
· Include a concern for (a) ways to gain feedback on the project while it is being conducted and (b) ways to show that the project fulfilled that which was originally proposed.
· Include some sense of concern for what goes on following the conclusion of the funding period.
· Make direct reference to your objectives in your evaluation plan.
· Show how other cooperating agencies will assist in continuing the project after the conclusion of the funding period.
· Show how the initiatives that have been started under the project will be sustained.
· Include a Dissemination Plan, Time Line, Letters of Support, Cooperating Agency Descriptions, and an Evaluation Instrument.
Now you have the basics.
The question is, “What project do you have a passion for, and are you ready to do the hard work to get it up and running?”
Mark Huttenlocker, M.A., is a family therapist and grant writer for non-profits. He works with parents of strong-willed, out-of-control teens and preteens. If your child is out-of-control and you’re at your wits end, then feel free to use Mark as your own personal parent-coach. Get permanent solutions to your child’s behavior problems within 15 seconds from now by visiting his website: http://www.MyOutOfControlTeen.com
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