Grant Writing

Updated: Nov 10, 2016

What is grant writing? Let's begin with breaking the phrase into its basic components. We all know what writing is. Now, grant or grant proposal can be summed up as "Hi, give me the money". Grant writing varies across disciplines; nevertheless, mutual aspect for all is that it always emerges from an idea.

Grant writing refers to the practice of completing an application process for funding provided by an institution such as a government department, corporation, foundation or trust. Such application processes are often referred to as either grant "proposals" or "submissions". Successful grant writing requires a clear understanding of grantsmanship. While the principles and fundamentals of grantsmanship apply broadly, it is important to know the target and to be able to tune the language appropriately. Understanding the creation process of a grant proposal is a big part of the success in grant writing. Successful grant writing requires a clear understanding of grantsmanship. Let's define what Grantsmanship is: Grantsmanship is the art of acquiring peer-reviewed research funding.

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Structure and Outline of Grant Writing

Prepare: Agree on the problem and understand your own background:

  • History
  • Community
  • Capacity
  • Mission
  • Needs
  • Programming
  • Readiness
  • Future direction

It is critical to know your own structure as well as focusing on the funder's priorities. Conduct a research about other projects being funded by this agency. Note how your request fits the funder's requirements and incorporate it into your proposal: covering letter, summary, conclusion.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" Benjamin Franklin.

Approach. Read the advice given to you by the Funding Agency. You need to build a strong "case for support". It is that which will convince the funding givers whether to grant your request. A "case for support" is the bulk of materials underpinning your funding endeavor – a central detail for anybody seeking funding. An application must fit into a specific funding opening. Most unsuccessful proposals have failed just because they neglected to match this part.

Propose. Think of your proposal as a sales pitch: 

  • Active sentence structure is better than passive
  • Compact and to the point words and sentences (not too short though)
  • Short paragraphs (4-5 sentences)
  • Avoid jargon and clichés
  • Try to avoid idioms and figures of speech
  • Concrete, plain language
  • Maximize text readability with structure and spaces

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Writing a Successful Grant Proposal

Cover letter. Put thought and time into designing the first page: this is the summary of the whole of your grant proposal; that is the first and sometimes the only page anyone will read. Make sure not to blabber; talk to the point: 

  • What do you want to do
  • Why is that important
  • Why will you succeed
  • How much will it cost

Problem statement. What problem within the community do you wish to address? Use graphs, data, and statistics: exact points will benefit your proposal. Demonstrating a real-life story of an individual or a group can add a personal view to it.

Goals. What do you aim to achieve on the bigger scale? Expand your view to the larger perspective; realize and present to the potential funder how the outcomes will affect a wider social goal.

Project program. Now is the time to be specific. Get to the nitty-gritty of the exact implementation of your research/action plan. Zoom-in on the pinpoints of your planned activities and their execution.

Budget. Understand your budget needs not only per activities but also in terms of personnel and expenses. Ask for an amount adequate to the size of your organization and project.

Self-Evaluation. A very important detail in the grant proposal writing is presenting the tools with which you are prepared to evaluate the execution process; these are your stepping stones verifying that your goals and objectives are being met and fulfilled.

Additional Funding. List any other funding you've been given or currently applying for.

Organizational Background. Provide a brief description of the organization's history, expertise, accomplishments and the capacity to implement the work you are looking to fund.

Literature review. The literature review reflects upon your readiness of thorough study and investigation of the field of your grant proposal, thus pointing out your credibility on the subject.

To sum up, to write a successful grant proposal be willing to invest a lot of time and effort. Clarity is the key when addressing the problem and how your organization is going to fix it. Has your mind set on the large goal as well as on the actualities? Define and refine your action plan and the budget. It is always good to remember that you are merely a vehicle for delivering the funding money to a social zone which needs it most. Show your expertise with proofs of deeds and literature published or read.

Grant Writing Tips 

Tip 1. To maximize your chances of success when applying for grant make sure your important bits and bobs are in place and valid:

  • Resumes and elucidations are updated and relevant to the project
  • Lists and references are current and veracious
  • Licenses, certification, and inspections are up-to-date
  • Evaluation and self-evaluation tools are compiled

Tip 2. It always looks good when you are providing evidence for your ability to manage funds well within your organization: good bookkeeping and properly run accounts.

Tip 3. Funders might also be interested in organization's policies, such as Health and Safety, Employment, Equal Opportunities, etc.

Tip 4. As goes with any written piece, re-write, again and again, re-writing, again and again, will eventually make it better.

Tip 5. Keep in mind that the judging panel consists of experts in your field and those who aren't; use plain language. 

Tip 6. The panel sees lots and lots of proposals, so you better make yours grab their attention within the first minute. Your best preliminary judges are your family, colleagues, and friends. Give it to them for a read and listen attentively to their comments. If they didn't understand something, rewrite it and let them read it again, do so until it is clear. Don't hesitate to approach them; it won't take long to read; for most committee members it'll take less than ten minutes.

Do's And Don'ts of Grant Writing

DO'S   

   • Do a good research on the funding body before approaching; make sure your request is suitable for the funder's conditions. 
    Do conduct a thorough read through the guidelines provided by the funding corporation. 
    Do invest time in studying past grants of the funding givers.
    Do talk exhaustively about your program. Show its preparedness and capability, link ideas to reality.
    Do proofread your grant application a few times. 

DON'TS   

   • Don't make mistakes in grammar, guidelines and readability.
    Don't ask for more money than the foundation is willing to give. That is, make sure your request fits the offer. 
   • Don't wait until the deadline scratches your nose to begin writing. Prepare your "case for support" in advance. Keep any correspondence related to undertaken projects, so you can use it later as your "publications" when applying for the relevant funding. 
    Don't put your organization's urgencies first. This isn't about you, but it is about a burning need within the community, which you can answer to with your action; to be able to do so you need the money.
    Don't base your monetary conclusions on estimations. Be precise with how much you ask for, deriving the amounts from facts rather than guesses.

Hundreds and thousands of proposals being sent out every year; most of them are worthy and wish to promote a higher cause; would be great if all of them were answered positively, but this isn't the reality of it. By using the scheme detailed in this article - implementing the PAP (Prepare, Approach, Propose) steps, taking on board the tips given and following closely the do's and don'ts – you are making sure to give your proposal best shot at being read fully and answered positively. Don't worry if you hadn't received funding before, it might play for your advantage; stay calm also if you had, since that shows positive and trustworthy record.

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