The late night TV commercials make it sound so easy – but the truth is – grants are NOT that easy to come by! Grants are not only tough to find – but even tougher to
qualify for – here’s some tips to give you an edge over the competition!
If your grant proposal is not complete and accurate according to the grantor’s specific guidelines – you won’t make it past the first qualifying round!
Here are a few tips for writing your grant proposal:
1. You may understand your business or concept inside out – but the person reading your proposal probably doesn’t. Explain your idea clearly and in as much detail as the form will allow. Have at least two other people OUTSIDE of your organization read the proposal and then ask them questions about your concept. If they don’t have a clear grasp of what you are trying to do – then the grants committee probably won’t either. And they won’t fund what they can’t comprehend.
2. The proposal must flow smoothly from beginning to end. If it doesn’t, the proposal won’t make sense. To avoid this situation, start with an outline that clearly follows each step of your plan…then you need to explain each point as fully as possible
to clairfy your business plan. Then – give the finished proposal to someone outside your field to read the proposal before you submit it. This process will help you to identify areas of the proposal that needed to be further clarified.
3. If you want your proposal to be taken seriously – show the funding committee that YOU take it seriously by carefully proofing it for spelling, typing and grammatical errors. Take time to have at least two other people proofread your proposal before you submit it – and then read it again yourself to make sure!
4. Take the time to research and evaluate the actual expenses – don’t estimate costs and funding needs, as this can result in a very inaccurate proposal. In a grant proposal, guesses just won’t make it. If a grant reviewer suspects that your financial sheet is not accurate – you just lost the grant. Find out exactly what kind of computer system you are going to need and exactly what the cost will be, then spell it out in the proposal exactly!
5. Make sure that your goals and objectives are clearly laid out and specific. If you say “I want this grant so that I can help the community” you won’t get nearly the credibility as you would by saying “This grant will allow us to buy 3 new computers, and create 2 part-time paid staff positions in an area where jobs for high school students and mothers with limited working hours are very difficult to find.”
6. Give yourself enough time! Don’t throw the proposal together in order to meet the deadline…. it shows. A good proposal package takes time to assemble and research properly. If you truly want the grant – then you need to spend the time to put the grant package together correctly, no shortcuts allowed.
7. Each grant program has a set of guidelines that must be followed EXACTLY, and without deviation! The first step in applying for any grant is to read and re-read the grantor’s guidelines. If it says that the grant MUST be submitted via the online form – don’t even bother to ask if you can fax it in. Unlike employment applications where it sometimes pays to be “original”, grant committees have rules in place for a specific reason, and they expect them to be followed to the letter. To do otherwise may mean that your application will be disqualified before it ever gets read.
8. Make sure that your proposal is what the funder actually finds! Don’t assume that just because there is a significant amount of money available, that they will fund anything submitted by anyone – the unfortunate fact is that funders are usually VERY specific in what they are looking for (and sometimes a bit odd, but that’s their choice!) and will rarely deviate from their “category”. You may have the very best green widget in the world – but if the grant is only for the makers of PURPLE WIDGETS – you won’t get the grant!
Grants are hard to find and VERY competitive – so put together the very best proposal possible and prove that you are the one that should get the money!