Today's blog post covers the creation of good grant writing habits. As you become proficient in the art (yes, it is an art) of writing grant proposals, you will notice that some parts of the process are repetitive; you'll do them again each time. This is good; it means you're covering all the basics. But I'd like to list a few things that have become habits for me, check them off if you are finding yourself doing these things over and over as you become an experienced grant writer.
Here are a few good habits to cultivate:
1. Research the grant being offered. Make sure your situation and your problem matches very closely with the purpose for which the grant is being awarded. Don't waste a huge amount of time submitting applications to organizations that would never fund a grant for the type of project you have in mind. If their area of interest and list of past grants awarded does not align with what you are planning, move on to another potential source. A company that provides grants for high school dropouts is not going to give a grant to a school for a pre-school playground no matter how persuasive your narrative may be.
2. Follow the directions of the grantor for format and submission. If they say submit a letter before you apply, you MUST submit one. If the deadline is on August 15th, don't mail it on August 16th (in fact, mail it on the 10th and get a signed receipt). If they say use a 12-point font, make sure your word processing software is set on 12-point type. If you can't follow the simple directions that grantors give you, chances are you won't be receiving their grant money.
3. Do not try to impress with beautiful prose and big words (unless a word actually nails a concept that cannot be explained using any other word). Grant applications are not about impressing anyone. Your application doesn't have to be boring. It can express your enthusiasm for starting a new program or solving a problem, but stay focused. Lay out your needs, support your case with statistical information if you have it, and address how you’ll put your plan into operation if you get the money you need to fund it. Then be sure to tell them how you will measure your success (assessment) and how you will publicize your project - grantors love seeing their names in print.
4. Don't leave any part of an application blank. If you don't understand parts of the application or what information is being sought, pick up the phone and call the grantor's office. People from granting agencies would much rather answer your questions than read an inappropriate application. In fact, a phone call is always a good idea before submission so they can connect a name to an application. If the grantor has a meet-and-greet opportunity, be there; and leave your 6-inch heels behind. Try a black suit and pearls, boring but appropriate. Lose the pearls if you're a man.
5. Proofread, then proofread again, get someone else to read your application, and then proofread it again. Typos and errors are distracting when you read grant applications. It's easy to tell when an application is complete and proofed appropriately. Mistakes indicate to a grantor that you don't care enough to take the time to make the application correct, not to mention stand out from the crowd.
6. Send your application the way they request. These days, granting agencies are requesting online submissions. They do not want paper copies in the mail (but sometimes they will want both, read their fine print). If you've ever worked on a direct federal grant you will be smiling at this one, the government digital application is horrifying. Apologies if it has been improved but, it strikes fear into the hearts of grant writers to have to submit through the grants.gov portal.
Tell me if I've missed some good ones (habits, I mean). Your process of putting together a grant application may differ from mine, but I'll bet the habits I mention here are in your routine as well. Comment on this post, we love to hear from you.
Current Grant Opportunities
D.E.W. Foundation Grants from the Dale and Edna Walsh Foundation- Giving nationally, DEW contributes to medical, relief, welfare, education, community service, ministries and environmental programs, and arts organizations. All organizations must submit a letter of inquiry (LOI) to be considered for funding.
States: All States
Total Amount: $400,000.00 - $900,000.00
Average Amount: $5,000.00 - $30,000.00
Address: 6461 Valley Wood Drive, Reno, NV 89523
Website: The Dale and Edna Walsh Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Other
Program Areas: Adult Literacy, After-School, Arts, At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Disabilities, Facilities/Maintenance, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE, Homeless, Math, Reading, Safe/Drug Free Schools, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, Special Education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Youth Grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation- USATF Foundation considers providing opportunities for youth athletes to compete in track & field, a top priority. We encourage youth track clubs and programs from all areas of the United States to apply for financial assistance. The Foundation favors the use of grant money to expand existing youth programs/clubs, to provide additional competitive opportunities for children and to enhance the experience for all participants.
States: All States
Address: 132 East Washington Street, Suite 800 Indianapolis, IN 46204
Website: USA Track and Field Foundation
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Program Areas: After School, At-Risk/Character, Health/PE