Grant Writing EDU 262 Spring 2012
Finding Funding Sources • The best place to start may be the local library where you can find directories that list various foundations and the types of projects they fund. • Other directories list government agencies, information about funding available and their priorities. • Many agencies maintain mailing lists, and will mail information about grants. • If you are on the list because you have worked with them in the past or applied for the mailing list, you will probably receive announcements of funds availability in the mail. • When an agency has funds to distribute, it issues a Request for Proposals or RFP (the official alert to interested persons), or an ITB which is an “invitation to Bid.”
Funding Sources • Local funding may also be available. • county or city governments have an office that handles funds to be channeled to programs that will meet the needs of local citizens. • Human Services offices, Community Action Agencies, or United Way Agencies may all provide such funds. • Other local service and professional organizations such as Rotary, Business and Professional Women, and Kiwanis may have some funding. • Subscriber services print newsletters on a regular basis in which they identify new grants available. • There are many such services available but they tend to be quite expensive. • Newsletters of professional organizations may also provide information about available grants or other sources of funding.
Matching Your Project Needs to a Funding Agency’s Goals • Funding agencies always have some reason for their existence—a goal they are trying to accomplish. • These goals may be very broad as in “to strengthen families,” or “to improve society.” • Other agencies’ goals may be more specific. • One of the secrets to successful grant writing is to match your project with an agency that is likely to fund that type of project.
Funding Agency Goals • A good idea and a well-written proposal that does not match the goals of the agency or foundation to which you applied is not likely to be funded. • If that same proposal is sent to an agency that matches in terms of goals, you have a better chance of being successful. • Goal is to write a proposal that matches your program’s needs with the funding agency’s priorities. • To determine whether or not this match is possible by carefully reading the materials and guidelines provide by the funding agency. • Read these carefully to decide whether it is worth your time to work on a proposal. If there is no way that your plans meet the agency’s goals, it will be a waste of time to prepare a proposal.
Funding Priorities • Funding agency will also have more specific objectives and priorities to which they give more importance. • Some guidelines list these gals in priority order. • If your project matches a top priority goal of the agency, you will have a better chance of being funded. • This does not mean that a project under a lower priority goal will not be funded; it means that if there is a certain amount of money available, projects under higher goals will be funded first. • The agency may distribute all of its money before it gets to your project.
Available Funds • A large foundation or government agency may be granting several thousand dollars. • Local agency grants may be in the hundreds. • Find out the typical amount of grants awarded by the funding source. • A successful proposal should be in the range of the grants awarded. • For example, if your proposal is for $30,000, and the agency usually grants awards between $20,000 and $50,000, your proposal is more likely to be successful. If your proposal requests $200,000, it is not likely to be successful.
Eligible Agencies • Guidelines also identify what programs are eligible for funding. • Some grants are open to any type of program; others are limited to certain programs such as non-profit agencies, or government- sponsored programs. • Careful reading of the guidelines will help you determine whether your program is eligible for funding. • If your program is not eligible, there is no need to pursue the grant.
Previously Funded Projects • Information regarding the types of projects previously funded by the agency is often found in the guidelines. • This can be helpful in determining whether your proposal is similar to others that have received funding in the past.
Restrictions • Funding from government agencies, private foundations, or charitable organizations may have restrictions or guidelines that must be met. • The restrictions are often related to eligibility of program participants, use of the money, and/or program philosophy or activities. • You must consider any restrictions that are tied to the receipt of the grant money. • Once you accept grant money with restrictions you are legally bound to honor the restrictions.
Restrictions Some questions to ask yourself: • Do you feel comfortable implementing these restrictions in your program? • How difficult will it be to meet the restrictions? • Are the restrictions consistent with the philosophy and goals of my program? • How much money will it cost to implement the restrictions? • Will this additional money help build a stronger program? It may be better to turn down the grant award if you are not comfortable with the imposed restrictions.
How to Write A Proposal • Guidelines from the funding agency typically specify how a proposal should be set up and exactly how each section should be labeled and formatted. • If you receive such instructions, you should follow them exactly. • If there are no guidelines, then follow these which are typical parts of a proposal.
Cover Letter • First thing on top of a proposal but is usually composed after you have written the proposal. • Identifies what the proposal is and should reference the RFP. • The letter should be signed by an official of your agency who has the legal authority to authorize the commitments in your proposal.
Cover Sheet • Front page of your proposal that contains important information about the document. • Includes: • the title of the proposal, • the RFP number, • the name of your program, • the address and phone number of your program, • and the contact person from your program. • If there are guidelines that specify a certain format for the cover page, be sure to follow them.
Abstract • The abstract is a summary of the proposal that provides an overview to the reader. • Should be written after the proposal is completed. • First impression the reader will have of the proposal. • Should grab the reader’s attention and help the reader see the need for the project. • Should identify the goals of the plan, and how the problem will be approached, but not the details of the project plan. • Should also include either a budget summary or some indication of the dollar amount being requested. • Should be able to stand alone as it is often the only part of a proposal that may get read by a busy executive. • Sometimes printed in reports by the funding agencies.
Table of Contents • Identifies the location of sections of the proposal for the reader and walks them through the document • Makes it easy for the reader to find the parts of the proposal. • It must be completed after the proposal is completely written so page numbers are correct. • Each part of the proposal must be listed using the exact terminology in the guidelines.
Introduction/Problem Statement • This part of the proposal establishes the reason for your request. • Allows the reader to identify the need for your project, and to see that it is valuable • Rest of your proposal should relate to this and addressing the problem. • Including documentation, such as statistics, statements from experts, or people who would benefit from the project , in this section is usually helpful. • Be sure your statement of the problem relates to the priorities of the funding agency.
Goals • The goals for your project are what you are trying to achieve. • Should be realistic and must relate back to the needs identified in your problem statement. • Should be what you can realistically accomplish if you receive the grant money.
Target Population • This section of the proposal indentifies who the proposal is designed to help. • Should relate back to the individuals who were identified in the problem statement. • For example it might specify the number of children can be enrolled in your new center.
Project Methodology • The purpose of this section of the proposal is to describe to the reader what you are going to do. It is sometimes called the “work plan.” • Should include your plan to meet the needs identified in earlier sections of the proposal, and how you will actually carry out the project. • Using charts, graphs, time-lines and calendars can help the reader understand what you are planning to do and how long it will take to implement the plan.
Organizational Capability • This section must prove to the funding agency that your program is able to carry out the project. • Convince the reader that you have the resources and are capable of doing the job. • Including a brief history of your program may help the reader see your service to the community and your reputation for quality care. • If your program or staff have received any special recognition or honors, that can be included here.
Organizational Capability • Successful completion of other grants or special projects is also a way to indicate the abilities of your program. • Staff who will be assigned or hired for the project should be listed, along with their qualifications and job descriptions. • An organizational chart may be helpful for this section. • A description of facilities (available rooms, etc.) may also be needed in this part of the proposal.
Evaluation of Success • This is the section that will be used for accountability--how you will measure your success. • You will need to provide some evaluation methods which need not be expensive, but should be designed to clearly prove that you addressed the needs and met the goals of your proposed project.
Budget • The budget part of the proposal is where you indicate what you will do with the money you are requesting. • Your budget should be clear and straightforward, not padded or held at an artificially low level. • Once you agree to accept a grant you must carry it out for the contracted dollar amount. • The budget included in your proposal should reflect your most accurate estimation of the cost of carrying out the project
Appendix • This is the section that can include a variety of attachments that support your proposal narrative (items that cannot be included in the narrative, but add important information). • Some examples are: • letters of support for your proposed project, • resumes of staff, • a proposed floor plan of a new classroom, • articles about your program, or • any other helpful information such as a list of other funded projects your program has carried out successfully.
Proposal Writing Tips • Due Date: You must plan you work time on the proposal so that you can have the proposal submitted by the due date specified in the guidelines. • A proposal that arrives late, may not be considered. • Consistency: This is one of the most important elements of a successful proposal. • What you say you are going to do in one part of the proposal must match what you say you are going to do in another part of the proposal. • The writing style should be consistent; it should also read as if it were written by one person even if several people have assisted in putting the document together.
Tips (continued) • Attitude: You must convey to the funding agency that your program can complete the project successfully. • You must convince the reader that there is a problem that your program can solve with the help of the funding agency. • A “we can do it” attitude and the impression that your program and staff are capable and willing to solve the problem are key. • Use of professional terminology: One of the challenges in writing a grant proposal is the appropriate use of professional jargon. • If you do not understand a term, do not use it. • People who are reading your proposal may not be professionals in the early childhood or child care fields, and are not likely to understand concepts such as “developmentally appropriate practice,” or the “trilemma of child care.”
Tips (continued) • Organization of the Proposal: You must organize and write your proposal so that it matches up with the format suggested (or in most cases, required) by the funding agency. • Use the same terminology for proposal sections as are given in the guidelines and follow the sequence order stipulated. • Answer all questions posed in the guidelines; do not ignore any topic areas. • Visual Appeal: Remember the old adage about first impressions. Think about how your proposal will look to someone who is seeing it for the first time. • The proposal document should be professional-looking and say to the reader that it was carefully prepared. • A sloppy proposal may contain good ideas, but may not get the consideration it deserves if the reader thinks it was prepared in a careless manner.
Tips (continued) • Coordination with other agencies: Funding agencies like to see programs working together. • Partnerships with other programs should be considered for your project if applicable. • Proposal Rankings: Some proposal guidelines include a copy of the ranking scale or the categories on which submitted proposals will be rated. • This information helps you address every element on which you can gain points. • When you know what you are being graded on it is easier to include those elements in your proposal. • You can boost your score of your proposal by paying careful attention to those items for which you can obtain more points or that carry more weight.