A Resource Guide to Grant Writing
Steps to Successful Grant Writing
1. Identify the Project
Break it into smaller projects, distinct steps. Be able to describe the proposed project in a series of steps / bullets with a feasible time frame to achieving your goals.
2. Engage Appropriate Stakeholders
Members of local government, private sector partners, community groups. Identify how the project will impact them — seek their support through letters, in kind resources and engagement on the project.
3. Create a Project Team
Create a project team to assemble the grant. This includes a person to write the grant, a person with technical expertise about the proposed project and appropriate leaders who will be able to sell the project as well as give the final sign off.
4. Brainstorm about Possible Funders
How do the components of the project (e.g., greenspace creation, bike paths) match to funders? Does the project have economic development, community engagement, public works, parks and recreation or other components that can attract a different sort of funding? It is important to think strategically about how parts of a project can be funded.
Your Grant Application
NOTE: guidelines vary, but they are generally some version of:
- Executive Summary
- Statement of Need (what is your justification for this project)
- Objectives (what are you going to accomplish)
- Action Plan/Methodology
- Evaluation Procedure (How will you prove success?)
- Funding (what amount of money do you need for what activities?)
- Sustainability (what happens after the grant?)
- Summary (this is what you are going to do and how it is going to change the world)
Create a Plan of Action
- Identify the target audience for a grant (agency, office, personnel).
- Describe the activities to achieve the desired outcome.
- Justify the project — how is it a product of long term planning or part of a larger picture (e.g. included as a part of a comprehensive plan)?
- Create a timetable for activities.
- Develop a realistic budget for the project (is part of the project already funded, do you have in-kind support?).
- Identify Funders.
- Does the funding opportunity/mission fit with the goals of your organization (and vice versa — is your program compatible with the mission of the funder)?
- Is there a required match?
- Do you have internal (within your organization) and external (stakeholders) support?
- Do you have / can you create a relationship with the funder?
- How time consuming is it to write and/or manage the grant — will it be worth it?
- Are past awards within the scope of what you need?
- Is your award type/region of the country, etc. — attractive to the funder?
- Talk to the Grant officer.
- Ensure that you have read the description and application.
- Ask about common mistakes that applicants make.
- Briefly describe your project and get some feedback about how you can pitch it.
- Ask if your application will be competitive.
Create an Evaluation Framework
Grant makers increasingly want to know how grantees will measure results. Therefore, it is important to include a solid evaluation framework as a part of your application. What are you planning to do, how are you doing it; why are you doing it? — present in an easy-to-understand manner.
- Develop evaluation criteria.
- Why are you evaluating?
- Where does evaluation start?
- What questions should be asked?
- What data needs to be collected?
- How can the data be analyzed (in what manner, by whom?)
- What conclusions will be drawn from the data?
- How are results communicated?
- What are the next steps . . . how can sustainability be ensured from evaluation?
Discuss Project Sustainability
- What will happen to the life of this project after funding ends? Will it be self-financing, what resources will ensure its sustainability?
- Write the grant.
Who should review and critique your application?
- Editor: to read the text.
- Financial person: to double check the numbers.
- Critic: to make sure it all makes sense.
What Funders Look for During an Evaluation
NOTE: Evaluation specifics vary, depending on program requirements, but in general the following apply:
- Required Forms
- Minimum matching funds
- Submitted on time
- Consistency between budget and narrative
- Proposed activities respond to documented need
- Applicant can deliver what the funding agency wants and what the grant proposal promises
- Grant funds will be managed properly
- Applicant can demonstrate and measure results
Resources referenced here are ones that provide basic information on evaluation and evaluation methods used in the social sciences.
Bureau of Justice Assistance( http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/evaluation/)
Find useful resources for planning and implementing program evaluations and for developing program performance measures.
Center for Social Research Methods (http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/index.htm)
This Web site provides a wealth of information about social science research methods, as well as links to other information Web sites.
Joint Committee Standards (http://www.wmich.edu/evalctr/jc/JC-Home.htm)
This site provides a summary of standards for evaluation to help in designing, managing and reviewing evaluation studies.
United Way of America: Outcome Measurement Resource Network (http://national.unitedway.org/outcomes/resources/mpo/)
This Web site provides an overview of a manual for measuring program outcomes and some illustrative excerpts.
The Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook
This handbook provides a framework for thinking about project evaluation and outlines a blueprint for designing and conducting evaluations.