Online Parent Support Chat

25.5.07

Top 25 Tips for Grant Writers

I've written many grants for non-profit organizations. In an attempt to help members of Online Parent Support who may have a project they need funded, I've listed some tips that will help yield a successful proposal outcome:

1. Before your search even begins, you must have a project that you wish to fund. What is it that you want to accomplish? Any project you support must align with the needs of your beneficiaries. Grant providers want to clearly see the necessity of your program.

2. Start by searching for grants online and library resources.

3. Start the process early. It can take months, in some instances a year or more, before you receive any funds.

4. Investigate local government agencies, educational and civic organizations, and businesses as possible sources of funding.

5. Look for funding sources whose philosophy and focus are consistent with your project’s goals and objectives.

6. Don’t limit yourself to a single funding source. Contact those funders who are the best matches based on your research.

7. Speak personally with a contact person involved with the funding who can answer your questions and provide advice and guidance. Develop a relationship with your contact person and keep the lines of communication open throughout the application process.

8. Ask how projects are reviewed, how decisions are made, and how and when funding is dispersed.

9. Be a grant reviewer. You’ll get an insight into how the process works and also what it is like to be a reader. Once you have read 15-20 proposals, you will find your own approach to grant writing will change dramatically.

10. Follow the grantor’s instructions - exactly. Spend time at the beginning going over the instructions in detail.

11. Have only one author--with lots of helpers. Get others to write parts, which require knowledge or expertise you don't have. But then take their work and rewrite it in your words and make sure the concepts, time frames, terminology, etc. are the same throughout.

12. Make the final deadline earlier than required. Always set your final deadline at least two days earlier than what is required so you can have enough time to send in more copies if your first mailing gets lost.

13. Have a reasonable, detailed budget. Do your homework on costs prior to submitting your application.

14. Match the budget to the grant. The reviewer will look to see if the budget actually is carrying out what the application proposes.

15. Cite research that supports the program for which you are requesting funding.

16. Have someone who is not involved in the project in any way read and critique your draft application.

17. Set aside plenty of time. Do not underestimate the amount of time required to write a competitive application. Plan to spend three to four weeks full time at work writing, and be able to set aside another 40-50 hours of overtime.

18. Write a grant that is friendly to your reader. The reviewers are reading your proposal at nights or on weekends.

19. Try proposing a project that puts a fresh spin on an existing idea -- be innovative, creative and educational. Private foundations often seek creative solutions to problems/needs, but they usually do not wish to fund risky projects.

20. Have an evaluation plan. Grantors want to know if the projects they fund are successful--that your project is meeting its goals.

21. Formulate your plan. Begin with a written account of the project's:

·background. Document the need for your project with demographics, test results, and anecdotal evidence.
·goals and objectives. Make sure they are specific and measurable.
·mission statement. Identify the project’s potential outcome.
·planned assessment tool(s). Be specific.
·required materials, supplies, and personnel.
·timeline.
·total cost.

22. The proposal must be written in sufficient detail to allow reviewers to understand:

·evaluation and dissemination plans;
·if the project personnel have the necessary expertise to accomplish the goals and objectives;
·the impact and cost effectiveness of the project;
·the potential of the project to improve people’s lives; and
·what the project hopes to accomplish.

23. If your project is rejected, ask the grantor for reviewer comments. The comments can offer invaluable tips for improving your future grant applications.

24. Write a ‘thank you note’ - even if your project is not funded initially.

25. Never give up. With each proposal that is declined, you gain more expertise, which makes it more likely that your next proposal will be accepted.

Good luck,

Mark
Online Parent Support

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