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The Secret to Writing Successful Grant Proposals

The Secret to Writing Successful Grant Proposals

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The Secret to Writing Successful Grant Proposals

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  1. The Secret to Writing Successful Grant Proposals By Chris Whitehead TSYS Department of Computer Science Columbus State University Fall 2005

  2. Preface • The Grant Institute • • • (888) 824-4424

  3. Overview • Types of grants and sources of funding • The most important components of any grant proposal • Why projects get funded and why proposals fail • The grant proposal development process • Grant proposal resources • How to build a grant proposal team • The 10 most common elements of a winning proposal and how to improve your chances of getting funded • Specifics in writing the grant proposal • What to do when your grant proposal gets funded • What to do when your grant proposal doesn’t get funded

  4. Common Type of Grants • General purpose or operating support grants • Program or project support grants • Planning grants • Seed money or start-up grants • Management or technical assistance grants • Facilities and equipment grants • Endowment grants • Program-related investments (PRIs) (loans)

  5. Sources of Funding • Federal • Foundations (in Georgia) • Corporate • Individual

  6. Important Components • Expertise • Put this expertise into a need • Build a strategic plan • Of institution • Research agenda • Focus • Politics

  7. Pieces of the Grant Proposal Puzzle • Institutional description • Need • Plan of operation • Goal • Objectives • Activities/methodology • Key Personnel • Cost/budget • Dissemination of results • Sustainability

  8. The Five Ws • Whoam I? (the organization/institute I represent) • What is my project? • Why do I need the money? • When do I need the money? • Who will benefit? • Who will implement the project? • Where will the funds be directed? • What is my evaluation plan?

  9. Why Projects get Funded • Social value • Economic value • Project is a model • Powerful partners • Statistical evidence • Specific about a need • Highly credible researchers or requesters

  10. Why Grant Proposals Fail • Technical issues – 25% • Misspelled words or grammatical errors • Contact the program officer

  11. Grant Proposal Development Process • Research sources • Obtain announcement • Form team • Develop need, goals & objectives • Write first draft proposal • Proofread • Team meeting • Write revision • Submit proposal

  12. Resources • Federal Register (periodical) • • Foundation Center ( • Chronicle of Higher Education • Chronicle of Philanthropy • Community of Science • Grant Training Center • • • American Council of Learned Societies ( • • National Institutes of Health ( • National Science Foundation ( • Fundraising in an Electronic Age (book)

  13. Where to Find Personal Donors • Look in society page of newspaper • Don’t approach individual donors or foundations without going through university first

  14. Building the Team • Stakeholders • Content people - experts • Partners • Budget officer • Supervisor • Evaluators • Editor

  15. 10 Common Elements of a Winning Proposal • Clearly defines needs • Clearly describes what will be done • Presents the material in a logical manner • Written in positive terms • Does not overuse jargon • Presents detailed budgets that match the proposed program • Gives something back • Follows all the guidelines in the RFP • Professional looking • Not too short or long

  16. Elements of a Successful Research Proposal • Clearly written • Objectives stated clearly • Presents a clear plan for carrying out research • Spells out specifically and clearly the methodology and resources • Specifies innovation • States the following: • This is what I will do • This is how I will do it • This is what I have done • This is what is being done now

  17. Improving Your Chances of Success • Avoid the I am famous; therefore I will get the grantsyndrome • Never complain about lack of resources • Set realistic timelines • Let colleagues review the grant before submitting it • Remember that the review process is not blind • Resubmit grant if not funded the first time for persistence pays off

  18. Improving Your Chances of Success (cont) • To improve funding chances remember to: • Pick a good topic • Be explicit in design and focus on quality • Speak directly to the issue • Add a senior collaborator as co-PI/consultant • Talk to program officer in advance • Carefully use reviews to revise submissions • Work on something you are excited about

  19. Improving Your Chances of Success (cont) • Get other people to read the proposal • Become a reader • Have a variety of people on the grant team • Don’t be self-serving—serve the community • Write a succinct question or problem statement

  20. Institutional Description • Paraphrase mission statement • Macro then micro • Talk about strengths • Incorporate the organization’s strategic plan • Do a needs assessment to validate the need • Gear the description towards the need without specifying the need • How does the project or research fit in? • Partnerships always get more attention

  21. Needs Statement • Tell the story in a compelling, convincing, clear and specific manner • Answer the following questions: • What is the problem of my project? • What is missing in solving the problem? • What does it take to solve the problem? • It’s not about the money – it’s about the program • Provide evidence • Surveys • Case studies • Maps • Statistical data • Models

  22. Needs Statement (cont) • For a research project, needs should be based on literature review • When you put in the proposal, remember that you won’t be there to answer potential questions • Why you, and only you, should get these funds

  23. Goals, Objectives and Outcomes • Goal • The purpose of the program • Objectives • Measurable result that will achieve the program • Outcomes • What will change and how you will know?

  24. Goals, Objectives and Outcomes • To begin writing your goals, objectives, and outcomes, answer the following questions: • What is the purpose of your program? • How will you achieve the purpose of your program? • What will change? • How will you know that substantive and important changes have taken place?

  25. Goals • Should be one or two • The general overall issue to be solved - the big umbrella • Usually begins with an active verb: • Enhance • Augment • Expand • Increase • Strengthen • Improve • Promote • For researchers, it’s the aim: • Expand the knowledge of • To establish • To create

  26. Objectives • Objectives • Have to be SMART • S – specific • M – measurable • A – achievable • R – realistic • T – time bound • Multiple objectives should support the goal • Also start with action verbs • Little umbrellas • Under these are activities • The objectives are made up of activities • Can put in a table or in a Gantt chart

  27. Timelines • A realistic assessment of time to meet goals • How long do you need to achieve your goals and why (one year, two, etc.)? • Outline the time it will take to achieve your goal • Why did you decide on this timeline? • What is the timeline for spending the funds? • Will you use graphics to describe the timeline? • Gantt chart (Microsoft Project or Excel) • Calendar of activities • Program schema

  28. Evaluation • How the project will be measured and the results given to the donor • Quantitative evaluation = hard data • Qualitative evaluation = soft data (e.g., opinions, individual stories, surveys) • Questions to ask: • What results will be evaluated in your project? • How will you evaluate the results? • Who will evaluate the results? • When will the evaluation take place? • What hard data will you use? • What soft data will you use?

  29. Evaluation (cont) • The evaluation is key • You cannot tell the donor you’ve been successful without the evaluation • Must be multi-faceted • Talk about past successes • Put evaluation instruments in appendix • Take objectives to Institutional Research office and ask them to help develop evaluation instruments

  30. Evaluation (cont) • Everything that you are doing will need to be evaluated in terms of how it supports the goal and objectives • Look at what other similar organizations are using for evaluation • Use an external evaluator has part of team • Ask program officer to recommend an external evaluator

  31. Evaluation (cont) • • • •

  32. The Logic Model • Starts with an amount of money and then builds the activities, evaluation, and results given that sum •

  33. Key Personal • Who will be involved in the project and why are they qualified for this project • Questions to ask: • Who will be involved in your project? • What will be the function of those involved? • What are the qualifications of the personnel?

  34. Key Personal (cont) • People involved in the program • Project director • Content people • Anyone directly involved in running the project • Place resumes or CVs in appendix (project director first; others in alphabetical order) • If 30 people, take five strongest (a sample of those involved are…) • Highlight educational and experiential qualifications • Only include those people getting paid by the grant

  35. The Budget • Budgets vary according to donor and must reflect the donor’s specifications • Questions to ask: • How much do you need to accomplish your goals? • What are the budget items? (e.g., personnel, fringe benefits, equipment, space, consultants, etc.) • What costs will you contribute? • How much does your institution charge (indirect costs)?

  36. The Budget (cont) • Personnel • Include only the salaries and percentages of people working directly on the project • Other direct costs • Consulting • Transportation • Employee benefits • In-kind gifts • Contributions – if necessary, estimate these • Indirect costs • What an organization charges for their lights, our time, the carpet, the bookkeeper, etc.

  37. The Budget (cont) • See example “Pleasant Valley Community Center” budget • Clean • Footnoting • Personnel costs • Salaries • Fringe benefits (38% for CSU) • Check HR for value of benefits • Include faculty salaries (and possibly even fringe benefits) as from institution to show support if matching required or encouraged • Be sure to negotiate the results of the budget with those involved in implementing the project • For partners, write memorandums of agreement • Incorporate 10-15% for cuts

  38. Dissemination of the Results • Remember that grants are using other people’s money so that other people will benefit from it • Use numbers as much as possible • Use a Web site • Use newsletters • To other similar organizations • To the community • At conferences and presentations • “Whatever impact has had on our organization will have the same impact on 235,000 people as described above.”

  39. Sustainability • If there are no more funds, where will you get the funds to continue the project or will the project support itself • Become institutionalized • Letters of support

  40. Before Submitting • Talk with program manager • Submit at least a week early

  41. It’s Been Submitted! • Blind • Not blind • Stay out of their business

  42. It’s Been Funded! • If federal grant, get congressperson to come to campus to present • For brochures and other materials, mention, “this project was funded in part by a grant from…” • Work the proposal

  43. It Wasn’t Funded • You have a partner – the funding organization • Call the program officer to find out • Why not funded • What ranking • How to get funded next time • Email all partners • Reassure them that you will be working with agency to make chances • Ask for their continued support

  44. Summary • Types of grants and sources of funding • The most important components of any grant proposal • Why projects get funded and why proposals fail • The grant proposal development process • Grant proposal resources • How to build a grant proposal team • The 10 most common elements of a winning proposal and how to improve your chances of getting funded • Specifics in writing the grant proposal • What to do when your grant proposal gets funded • What to do when your grant proposal doesn’t get funded