Tips for Successful Grant Writing
Writing the Proposal
Proposals should answer the following questions:
- Who, what, where, why, when (and how long), how, and how much?
- Every component of a program proposal is interconnected to every other component. Be sure all proposal components are linked with one another.
Write your abstract last. It should be a synopsis of your program. Include:
- Your organization’s history, credibility, mission, overall agency goals, and size.
- Tell why you are asking for this grant money and what it will do. State the overall goals and objectives of the program.
- Report your successes (track record) of similar endeavors.
State the problem and need for the proposed program.
- Currently, what does the program do?
- What is the problem? Use relevant data, statistics, and anecdotal information.
- How can this program help solve the problem? Be realistic.
- Be candid about potential problems and your strategy for addressing them.
Goals, Objectives, Activities, Timeline, and Evaluation
Goals: What do you hope to accomplish with this specific program? (Example: Reduce the number of children killed taking non-prescribed medication.)
Objectives: What specifically do you want to change? (Example: Reduce health related injuries among children ages 0-8 from 65% to 50% by April 2013.)
Activities: What activities will you conduct to meet your objectives and ultimately, your goal(s)?
Timeline: How long will each activity take and who will conduct each activity?
Evaluations: How will you measure whether each activity has been accomplished (process evaluation), how you will measure whether the objectives have successfully been met (outcome evaluation)?
- Make your budget realistic (don’t pare it down or include in-kind costs if this is not realistic).
- Include only those items that are allowed. If a funder doesn’t pay for equipment costing more than $500, don’t include it in your budget.
- Make your budget specific and appropriate. Include all of the relevant costs for the program.
- Include enough information so the reviewer knows who is being budgeted, for how much, and the % of FTE of each person budgeted. For supplies include how many, how much per unit, etc.
- Include all required costs, i.e., mandated meetings, etc.
- Don’t make assumptions. Always include a justification for every line in the budget.
- How you will sustain this program once funding from this grant is over?
- Read the proposal instructions first. Never begin your proposal without knowing exactly what is required.
- Prepare a checklist of things you need to do to appropriately complete the grant.
- Outline your proposal before you begin writing it.
- Build evaluation criteria into your proposal (process measures and outcome measures).
- Use the format suggested.
- Prepare yourself mentally before you begin writing your proposal.
- Write clearly, concisely, and professionally (don’t use acronyms or other jargon without first providing an explanation of its meaning).
- Make your proposals upbeat, positive, and interesting.
- Write as if you have already been funded for the grant and are explaining what you will be doing (We will implement…).
- Include everything you are asked to include.
- Say it succinctly but don’t make assumptions.
- Commit only to activities you can fulfill.
- Make your work neat. Leave enough white space (don’t clutter up your pages with too many words, small margins, or small font sizes).
- Use visuals when possible.
- Time your work so you are finished at least 3 days before the proposal is due.
- Stay within the page, margin, and font size limit stated.
- Read and edit your proposal in its entirety.
- Have someone not familiar with your program read the proposal for clarity.
10 Reasons Proposals Get Rejected
- Program activities are not based on best practices.
- Proposals are unclear or missing required information.
- Need has not be adequately identified in the proposal.
- Programs are not well thought out. Portions are inconsistent with one another.
- Proposals are too ambitious for the amount of time and/or money requested or proposals are not ambitious enough for the amount of time and/or money requested.
- Budget is vague, inconsistent, or unrealistic.
- Staff expertise is not conducive to program activities.
- Program has a bad track record for completing activities.
- Proposals are submitted after the due date (a deadline is a deadline).
- Proposal submitter has good ideas but the proposal is written poorly. This is the number one reason program proposals for Kids’ Plates funds are rejected.