I use a template for my grant applications. To some degree, all applications are the same. The grantor wants to know things about your school and your project. Some applications are more difficult than others because they may demand a certain page count and formatting may be very specific, but generally they want the same information.
Here is Neva's list of sections (template) for grant writing:
- Abstract (consider writing your abstract last; it will allow for more concise, project specific information)
- Problem Statement or Significance of Project
- Project Purpose (overall goal and specific objectives)
- Research Design or Work Plan (activities and timelines)
- Applicant Qualifications and Capabilities, Demographics
- Evaluation Plan - Assessments
- Budget (summary and justifications - refer back to the design/work plan)
- Sustainability (how will you pay for the program when the grant is gone?)
- Appendix (everything else)
This, in a nutshell, is the information grantors want to have in their hands before they can make educated decisions about which grants to support. Applications may differ (e.g., an application may not allow an appendix, or the problem statement and project purpose may be combined and called something like "scope of project"), but generally this is the required information they need.
I have written many, many grant narratives. I keep a binder for each one of the sections listed above. When I get a new application, I take a look at the subject area we are trying to address and pull out the sections one by one to copy verbiage into the new application. My binder for "Research Design and Work Plan" is further divided into subjects like math, reading, after school, STEM, special education and miscellaneous (not too many of those).
Obviously, it's made easier now with computers; I can just cut and paste from an old narrative into a new narrative. Of course, it will need to be updated and tweaked to make sense for a new funding stream, but basically it's cut and paste. This makes it so much easier to apply for multiple grants that will support a big project. In my experience it will take more than one supporter to fully fund a big project. Be careful here, some grantors want to be sole supporter; they don't want to share the glory with others, so be sure you are in communication with your main supporter to avoid collisions.
For things like demographics (statistics that describe your town or population), I have a statement all prepared that reflects newest census figures. Demographics are usually provided in "applicant qualifications and capabilities." I get my updated population figures from NCES, National Center of Education Statistics. Your state department of education and www.census.gov can provide corroboration for your numbers.
To find your school district on the site, go to "Data and Tools," "Search Tools," then "Search for Public School Districts." This is a federal website, so your district name is very important (it's very literal) in the search string you use. Try typing in your town name. It may bring up all the schools in your town, including privates, but your district will be in the list. Then drill down and bring out the statistics that will bolster your statement of need for applicant qualifications. Keep your NCES district number handy, it will save time down the road.
Once you have this demographics statement complete, just keep it and copy and paste it into your narratives—it will save you so much time and headaches.
After a while, grant writing becomes somewhat automatic. Of course, you'll have grantors that want special information to meet their needs, but you'll have it all in a binder (or on a memory stick), right?
Other grant templates you might like better:
- Grant Writers Online
- Legal Action Center
- Peaceful Playgrounds - good site for this elusive funding category
Do you have any tips to help streamline the process?