Grant Writing Tips

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before you Begin

  1. Does this project propose something new and creative?
  2. How competent are the people involved?
  3. Can they really accomplish these goals?
  4. How does our project fit in with the funder's priorities?
  5. Do we really need this funder's help? Why?
  6. Does the budget add up? Does the project really need everything requested?
  7. How will we let the funder know if the project is successful? Do we have a proven evaluation method?
  8. How dedicated are we to our goals? Have we proven our dedication?
  9. How will we coordinate community resources?
  10. What is our relationship with the community we wish to help?

These questions will give you a sound basis on which to judge your proposal. Go through each of the above questions carefully. Have a colleague ask you the questions, and then evaluate the answers. Are there any holes in your plan? Remember, the funder will ask you these questions later, so you may as well beat them to it. Good Luck!

An Outline for the Grantwriting Process

Successful grant writing involves the coordination of several activities, including planning, searching for data and resources, writing and packaging a proposal, submitting a proposal to a funder, and follow-up. Here are some steps that will help.

1. Define Your Project

Clarify the purpose of your project and write a mission statement. Define the scope of work to focus your funding search. Determine the broad project goals, then identify the specific objectives that define how you will focus the work to accomplish those goals.

Goal: To improve production quality.
Objective 1: Recruit advanced production talent.
Objective 2: Train mid-level producers.
Objective 3: Upgrade production equipment.

These goals and objectives suggest the proposal will request support for recruitment activity, production training, and equipment purchase. In contrast, a different proposal with the same goal might focus only on equipment upgrades.

Decide who will benefit. Benefits may extend beyond the direct beneficiary to include the audience, other institutions, etc.

Draft expected project outcomes in measurable terms.

Draft a timeline that includes the planning phase, the period of searching for funds, proposal writing, and the intended project start date. Periodically update the timeline as you learn more about submission deadlines, award timetables, etc.

2. Identify the Right Funding Sources

The Grants Office is available to help you in researching funding sources. You may also access SPIN, The Grants Digest Resources Page, The Foundation Center, trade journals, publications, and the internet are some of the resources available to assist your funding search. Do not limit your funding search to one source. Look for a match between your project and the grants you seek by looking for consistency between the purpose and goals of your project and the funder. In addition, pinpoint specific funding priorities and preferences.

Make direct contact with funders to support projects like yours. Request proposal guidelines. Also request a list of projects previously funded. Perhaps an annual report is available. Inquire about the maximum amount available. Also, find out the average size and funding range of awards. Determine if funding levels of the grants you select are appropriate for your project. 

3. Acquire the Proposal Guidelines 

Read the guidelines carefully, then read them again.

4. Know the submission deadline!

Plan on submitting your proposal on or preferably before the grant-maker deadline. Remember that all college proposal drafts must be submitted to the Grants Office at least one month in advance of deadline, for administrative review. Also remember that proposals must be submitted to the grant-maker by the Grants Office. Be realistic about whether you have time to prepare a competitive proposal that meets these requirements.

5. Determine Personnel Needs

Identify required personnel both by function and, if possible, by name. Contact project consultants, trainers, and other auxiliary personnel to seek availability, acquire permission to include them in the project, and negotiate compensation. Personnel compensation is important budget information.

6. Update Your Timeline

This is a good point at which to update your timeline, now that you know about submission deadlines and review timetables. Factor into your schedule time to write multiple drafts, gather relevant and permissible materials, and prepare an impartial critique of your proposal for clarity, substance, and form.