Writing a Grant Application for Funding Community Tool Box Curriculum Module 14 http://ctb.ku.edu
Writing a Grant Application for Funding Learning Objectives • Determine whether grants are the right option for your organization. • Identify potential sources for grants / external funding. • Understand the main elements of an effective grant proposal. • Create a drafted grant proposal that can be adapted and submitted to potential funders.
“We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Preparing to Request Funding What is a grant? • An award of financial assistance given to a group or organization to carry out a public purpose through addressing a problem or need in the community. What is a grant application or proposal? • The written document prepared by the requesting agency or individual for submission to a funding agency as a means of requesting or applying for grant money. What is an RFP – Request for Proposal? • An invitation put out by a foundation or funding agency for bidders to submit a proposal when money is available for projects that reflect the funding agency’s values, interests, or research priorities.
Preparing to Request Funding When should you write a grant application? • You want to start a new project or expand an existing one • You know of a funding agency that makes awards for the types of programs you envision • You have been invited to apply or are responding to an RFP for which you may compete well • You meet the eligibility requirements • You are able to commit the needed time and energy to prepare an effective application
Preparing to Request Funding Before you begin writing your grant proposal: • Identify the problem or goal area for which funds will be sought • Be clear about your reasons for applying • Develop a relationship with grantmakers when possible • Thoroughly search the field for available grants • Know all of the types of support available to you • Consider whether your proposed project fits with the identified funder’s goals • Know the timing (cycles) of various grants • Focus on the type of support you want • Investigate your leading prospects in depth
Preparing to Request Funding Before you begin writing a grant proposal (continued): • Know the grant guidelines, and follow them exactly • If the funder requires collaboration, make sure it’s right for you, and that you choose the right partner • Ask questions when necessary, but read the guidelines well and think before asking • Consider a meeting with the funding source • If you’re new to grantwriting, you might consider having others make contacts with funding sources on your behalf • Look for promising approaches or best practices that might work in your situation • Learn about the problems and goals of the community, and work with partners to develop an intervention for addressing them with the proposed funding.
Preparing to Request Funding Before you begin writing a grant proposal (continued): • Create a logic model or framework for the project • Include evaluation and sustainability plans • Prepare a budget for the project • Build community support • Form a working group • Get expert advice • Use a successful application as a model • Follow up – with partners, the community, and the funding source • Learn from rejection, and keep at it!
Identifying and Communicating with Potential Funders Determine which are appropriate funding sources • Find out what funding sources exist that might support your project • Research the websites or listings of funders to find about more information about the grants they provide • Identify the funders that appear to have grants that match your needs
Identifying and Communicating with Potential Funders Before Contacting Funders: • Determine who is the Program Administrator or Program Officer for the specific grant program • Make sure you are able to describe the following: • How your mission and the specific proposed fit funders’ priorities • Significance and timeliness of the proposed effort • The unique nature of your organization and project • Your organization’s experience and qualifications for carrying out the proposed project • Why the proposed methodology is sound • The appropriateness of the budget • The plan for program review and dissemination • How the project will be promoted to policy makers and the public
Identifying and Communicating with Potential Funders Contacting Funders: • A note of caution: Be careful not to ask questions about information available in the Request for Application When to speak with funders: • Only after you are certain this is a funding opportunity for which you will be applying • When you need to obtain clarification or missing information from the RFP • When they contact you for information • If you do not receive the grant, funders may be able to provide valuable information about how to improve the application
Identifying and Communicating with Potential Funders DIALOGUE - Identifying potential supporters for your project • Who are the key players that can help generate support among others? • Who are the individuals and groups that you need to sign on? • Who can help you reach people you don’t know? • Try creating a community map, with connection lines among various individuals and groups to identify connections
Identifying and Communicating with Potential Funders Activity – Identify potential funding sources for your project • Brainstorm potential funding sources • Use the internet and others sources to identify possible grant sources, and gather relevant information • Consider factors such as: • Eligibility for funding under the funder’s guidelines • The timing of the application and funding • The funder’s reporting and other requirements • The restrictions on the funder’s grants • The funder’s priorities and examples of past funded projects • Create a chart to compare different opportunities • Complete your chart by recording details of funders that appear to have grants which match your needs
Identifying Potential Funders Sample Chart for Comparing Funders and Identifying the Best Fit For Your Project
Preparing a Winning Grant Proposal: Features that reviewers like • Follow ALL directions exactly • Well-organized sections that are integrated and easy to understand • Well-researched and documented statement of the problem • Statement of the problem explicitly addresses the funder’s priorities • Creative or innovative strategies for addressing the need • Feasible goals and objectives • Measurable outcomes • Sound evaluation plan
Preparing a Winning Grant Proposal: Features that reviewers don’t like • Not following the directions • Spelling and grammatical errors • No previous experience in the area • Lack of community involvement in planning phase • Overall lack of focus • Inappropriate strategy given the problem or target population • Unrealistic time line • Weak evaluation plan • Unrealistic budget • Lack of potential for the program to become self-sustainable • Poor organization throughout the proposal
Preparing a Winning Grant Proposal Activity – Framing the proposal • In a small group, summarize your project – the problem, how it will be addressed, how many people it will affect and what it will cost • Encourage others to ask questions or point out any potential problems they see with the way the issue or project is framed • Take some time to discuss how any potential problems can be remedied • Share your reflections on the process and any take-away lessons
Preparing a Winning Grant Proposal DIALOGUE— • Did the process of summarizing your project help bring clarity? • Were others’ outside perspectives helpful in obtaining feedback from a new perspective? • What take-away lessons do you have for how to communicate your project to potential funders?
Components of a Grant Proposal • Cover letter, title page, and abstract • Narrative • Description of the Community • Declaration of the problem / needs statement • Project description • Organizational and Community Capacity • Evaluation plan • Budget request and budget justification • Applicant qualifications • Future funding plans/ plans for sustainability • Appendices
Components of a Grant Proposal:Cover Letter Cover Letter • Use organization letterhead and ensure it is signed by the appropriate person • Describe the organization’s interest and capacity for doing the proposed project • Use an upbeat tone that makes it stand out • Summarize the project clearly and simply • Designate a contact person for any questions about the project
Components of a Grant Proposal:Title Page The title page should include: • Project title • Name of the agency submitting the grant • Agency address • Name of the prospective funder • Beginning and ending project dates • The total amount of money requested
Components of a Grant Proposal:Abstract Abstracts should be brief (2 pages or less) and include: • Summary of the statement of the problem • Overarching goals of the proposed project • Summary of the methods that will be used to implement and evaluate the project • Description of the organization’s capacity to carry out the project
Components of a Grant Proposal:Narrative Narrative description of the community: • This section describes the context of your proposed project. • It should include (briefly) the physical, economic, and social characteristics of the community • For example, geographic location, population figures, important landscape features, major industries or employment, average socio-economic status, ethnic/racial/cultural diversity, etc.
Components of a Grant Proposal:Narrative Declaration of the Problem/ Needs statement should be one of the most compelling, powerful components of the proposal. Should include: • Evidence of the problem you wish to address • Data on the scope of the problem, whom the problem affects and how they are affected, how the problem is related to other issues in the community • Description of the causes of the problem • Basic conditions or root causes, what behaviors of whom need to change, personal and environmental risk and protective factors relevant to the problem, and social determinants that need to be addressed • Evidence of community concern about the issue • Identify approaches or solutions to date • If possible, use existing data sources to document the problem, including local or county level data and comparable data at the state and national levels.
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative Project Description should include: • Vision, mission, and objectives • The vision for the community and the mission of the specific initiative. • The overall goals and objectives of the specific community project or initiative. • The key behavioral objectives for the community project or initiative. • Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant to the mission, Timed and Challenging • Include process (the accomplishment of tasks) and outcome (results or impact) objectives.
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative Project Description (continued): • Methods or activities for addressing the identified problem or need • Targets of change and how to reach them using both universal and targeted approaches. • The plan for overcoming resistance and barriers. • The plan for mobilizing human and material resources. • The links between targets of change, specific behaviors to change, and proposed strategies. • Action plans with timelines for implementation activities and building organizational capacity
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative Example Intervention Plan
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative Example Action Plan
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative • Timeline chart for when the project activities will be completed • Anticipate activities and estimate at when they are likely to occur • Understand the timeline is for planning purposes and may be revised. Example Timeline Chart
Components of a Grant Proposal: Narrative Organizational and Community Capacity: • Organizational Capacity: • Document your organization’s history of effective work and its ability to carry out the proposed project. • Include the length of time your organization has existed, past projects and successes (awards, community recognition, funding, etc.), the experience and credentials of the staff, the populations you’ve worked with, and your financial stability • Community Capacity • Community assets and resources (institutions, organizations, and individuals that can support the work, financial resources) • Community readiness to address the issue in question • Your connections with other organizations and sectors within the community
Components of a Grant Proposal:Evaluation Plan Evaluation Plan should include: • Overall Evaluation • What would success look like • Your criteria for judging success • Results expected by the end of the funding period • How the evaluation products will be used to produce, with what regularity, to whom they will be distributed, and how they will be used to improve functioning of the initiative
Components of a Grant Proposal:Evaluation Plan Measurement • How evidence will be gathered and used to improve the initiative • How information will be gathered to support the objectives of the funders. Describe how the performance measures specified by the funder (especially for state or federal grants) will be collected and measured. • How evidence about the relationship between the interventions and outcomes, satisfaction of stakeholders and collaborators, and unintended consequences will be gathered and used • How community-level indicators will be used to determine the impact of the initiative • How behaviors or products of behaviors of key targets of change will be measured and used • How community and systems change will be documented to determine whether and how the environment is changing in relation to the mission of the initiative. • How other elements of the context that hindered or promoted change will be captured.
Components of a Grant Proposal Activity: Outlining the Proposal Narrative • Outline the significant elements of the project, including what you plan to do using what methods, how many people you’ll serve or affect at what level of intensity for how long, process and outcome objectives, and a plan for sustainability • Form small groups to discuss the outlines and work on difficulties • Share progress and discuss whether and how proposals have changed as a result of conferring about them
Components of a Grant Proposal DIALOGUE – • What do you know about your community problem and why would it be of interest to someone else to help fund the solution? • Were you able to find compelling information for the outline of your narrative? • What additional information is needed to make the case more compelling? • Who else could be involved in preparing or reviewing the proposal that could provide additional data and insights? • Which areas of the proposal narrative seem to need more work or more information? • Is the whole narrative cohesive? Do the different parts reinforce one another? Is each area convincing?
Components of a Grant Proposal: Budget Budget and Budget Justification • Budget should include: • Staffing (e.g., salary, fringe benefits, and taxes) • Direct costs (e.g., rent, utilities, equipment, supplies, shipping and postage, and travel) • Indirect costs or overhead • In-kind support or matching funds • Budget justification should include: • A clear description of the need for each line item • A link between each line item amount to a program activity and show the reviewer exactly how you calculated the total.
Components of a Grant Proposal: Budget Activity – Drafting a preliminary budget • Consider what line items will need to be included in your budget and draft a narrative justification for each item • Reflect on the following questions: • What additional information will you need as to the true costs of meeting your program’s priorities? • Will your budget fall within the maximum allowed for the grant of interest? • What in-kind support might be garnered to help defray expenses? • What items are easiest to justify? • Which are the most difficult to justify? • Who can help anticipate questions and concerns that may be raised by the grant reviewers and how to best respond?
Components of a Grant Proposal: Applicant Qualifications Applicant qualifications should include • Description of your organization’s mission, history, and existing experience • Emphasis on the organization’s strengths and current contribution • Highlight of the links to community collaborators and other resources
Components of a Grant Proposal: Sustainability Plan for future funding/ Fiscal sustainability • Provide a plan for obtaining grant funding or other funding strategies that demonstrates that the proposed program may be self-sustainable
Components of a Grant Proposal: Appendices Appendices: • Follow funder guidelines • Common items to include in appendices are: • Proof of state/federal non-profit status • Staff résumés • Audited financial statements • Board of Directors list • Letters of support • Grant reviewers are not obligated to review all materials contained in the appendices, so if the information is essential to your grant proposal, you should include it in the main proposal
Checklist for Following Funders’ Guidelines • Be sure to format and organize the grant headings exactly the way the Request for Proposal designates. Answer all questions in the order listed, and use the headings, subheadings, and numbers provided. Be sure to submit the number of copies the grantmaker requests • Include a cover letter to introduce your organization and your request, and to make a strategic link between your proposal and the funder’s mission and grant making interests • Grant proposals should be typed and look professional. • Keep an electronic copy of the proposal for future reference. This can be adapted or modified for future proposals • Find out if you need to register to submit an application. Contact the funder to let them know you are applying, or set up a profile before submitting a grant (e.g., a federal grant needs a DUNS number). If any of these steps are required, make sure you complete them well in advance of the grant’s due date. • Find out if the grant needs a letter of intent (LOI) and submit one by the due date
Checklist for Following Funders’ Guidelines • Determine if you need letters of support • Pay attention to how reviewers are going to score various aspects of the grant, and give higher priority (proposal length, etc.) to areas that are more heavily weighted. • When writing the grant, use bold or italics for emphasis of key points. • Note that it is fairly common to include the following in the Appendices: proof of non-profit status, staffing overview or organizational chart, and an audited income or expense statement • Once the grant is written, review it for clarity and consistency • Be sure to make a strong case for the overall significance of the proposal and prospects for success. (State WHY this project should be done: a) at all, b) in this community, c) at this time, and d) by this organization. • Be sure to ask questions of the funder, if needed – but read the application well and think before asking • If your organization is granted funding, there will likely be periodic reporting requirements to the funding agency
Following up on the Proposal • Ensure that your proposal has been received and is being considered • Increase your chances of your proposal’s success. Learn all you can about the review process, and how you might advocate for your proposal, if you can. • Maintain a good relationship with the funding agency • Consider meeting with the grantmaker
After Awards Are Announced If you received the grant: • Celebrate! • Thank everyone involved • Announce the grant award publicly, and credit the funder, with a press release or a press conference • Analyze the mechanics of the grant • Start looking for other ways to support the program funded by this grant, as well as the rest of your work • Get to work implementing your project
After Awards Are Announced If you didn’t receive the grant: • Thank those who worked on or contributed to the grant proposal, as well as anyone at the funding agency who was helpful. • Try to get feedback from the funder to understand why your proposal was not successful. • Rethink your finances to determine how you might run your program or initiative on less money • Look for other sources of grant money • Be persistent. Continue looking for new sources of funding. Consider adapting your proposal for a new potential funder and strengthen it with lessons learned.
Putting it All Together Wrap-up/Conclusion • How this all fits together • Take away lessons • Carrying It Forward: Applying this in my home organization or community • A look ahead to the next module