Five keys to writing a successful grant proposal Presented by Ron Flavin
Ron Flavin • As a professional grant writer has brought in more than $110 million in grants over 10 years; • Serves as a grant reviewer for state grant programs in Florida, Arkansas and others; • Serves as a grant reviewer for Federal funding agencies including DOE; HHS; USDA; RUS email@example.com 561-723-4079
Overview • Every day, foundations and funding agencies are swamped with grant proposals, the majority of which never get funded. Why do some proposals get funded and others don't?
Key issue • An uncertain economic climate has changed the fund-raising landscape. Budgets are increasingly being cut and more organizations and agencies are seeking assistance through grants. Bottom line: More people are competing for a smaller pool of dollars
Most common mistake • Not following the directions exactly is the number one mistake people make in writing a grant proposal. The majority of grant proposals get rejected because the writer did not follow the instructions. • Each section of the proposal accounts for a certain number of points. • By omitting or overlooking a section of the proposal, you automatically lose those points. • In a competitive environment, every point counts
Other common mistakes • The proposal is not aligned to the funding agency’s priorities • The outcomes are not quantifiable • The proposal writer makes assumptions about the reviewers’ knowledge • Using a template or boilerplate • Using a ‘shotgun’ approach
Key #1 • Follow the directions: Not following the funder’s instructions is the number one reason most grant proposals don’t get funded • Never omit information requested or leave out a required section of the proposal guidelines • Follow the instructions exactly • Even if it feels like you are being asked to provide information you’ve already discussed in an earlier section, include the requested information where it is requested
Key #1-continued • Grant mapping can help you to make sure you don’t leave anything out • Grant mapping is an outlining technique that if used properly, can significantly boost a grant proposal’s chances of winning an award • Grant mapping helps to ensure that no element of the proposal goes unaddressed
Key #2 • Match: Be certain that your organization, program or project are aligned to the funding agency's priorities and/or geographic restrictions • If your entity is not eligible to apply, the proposal won’t get reviewed • If your project is not aligned to the funding agency’s goals and priorities, the proposal will not get reviewed • If you are not located in the geographic area served by the funder, your proposal won’t get reviewed
Key #3 • Be succinct: People reviewing grants don’t generally review grants for a living. Most of them have day jobs and review the grants in their spare time. • They are pressed for time and appreciate it when a grant writer gets to the point • Reviewers aren’t impressed by fancy words and phrases—make your proposal readable • Include plenty of white space • Make it easy for the reviewer to find relevant information--include a table of contents identifying key elements of the proposal
Key #4 • Provide measurable outcomes: A successful grant proposal includes clearly-stated outcomes that can be measured and quantified. If you can not quantify (measure) the outcome then it's not measurable and you should head back to the drawing board. Here are some examples of measurable outcomes: We will conduct five outreach sessions in year one; The program will reach 100 disadvantaged youth over six months; At least 75% of program participants will achieve a passing score on the ABC standardized test;
Key #5 • Include a plan to evaluate your project: Funders are interested in outcomes--you need to demonstrate how and when you are going to measure your progress. For example, if you say that your program will serve 100 disadvantaged youth then you need to explain how you will track the number served (sign-in sheets, activity logs, etc.). If you say that participants are going to improve their knowledge or skill level then you need to tell them how and when you're going to test these things.