Explanation of How to Write a Grant and Get It
It can be very hard to find a genuine grant; worse still getting them is a hurdle. Finding the right grant can be a very daunting task, but the moment you get them, you need to come up with a convincing grant proposal. This is another stepping stone to getting a financier for your project or charity organization.
The good thing is that almost every grant applications take the same structure regarding the information to be provided, but usually, the formats differ. Some grants will involve a series of questions that you need to provide answers for, while others will take the form of a narrative where you will be asked to write a story providing the details of your project.
Regardless of the kind of grant you need, either for your charity organization or that business idea, writing a winning grant proposal is one of the skills you need to have.
This guide is therefore here to provide you with the basic information you need to have for your grant and how to present them convincingly.
What is a Grant – Definition
A grant is a sum of money given in the form of financial assistance. This is usually either from the government, an organization or a person mainly for a certain purpose that has a positive impact on the country or the community. This is quite different from a loan because the financial assistance is not to be paid back. However, in some cases, you might be required to return the money if it is discovered that it was not used to perform the purpose that it was meant for.
Usually, grants are given to students who are not able to pay their fees or for research projects. Apart from that, governments usually give grants for things like startup for businesses or community projects.
Some Essential Grant Writing Tips
Writing a proposal for a grant can be time-consuming depending on how you approach it. With this guide, you are going to learn what you need to write a winning grant proposal in the least time possible.
The steps involved in grant writing
Note that, before writing a grant proposal, you need to have a problem that you need to solve but you don’t have the means.
Step 1: Identify the Problem that needs funding
This step involves identifying a need, but if you already have one in mind you are better off. This can be community-based that is an issue in your community that needs to addressed by goodwill. For example, you have identified a polluted river that needs to be cleaned.
To get a grant for this, you need to first involve all the stakeholders in the community and agree that it is indeed a problem. If this is not the case, then it can be very hard to get a grant for the same and if you get it, completing the project can be difficult which can lead to you ending up in trouble.
Step 2: Go through the Grant
This is very important as it helps you understand properly what your grantor needs. It also gives you the opportunity to look for the necessary documents needed to support your grant application.
Consider doing the following:
- Understand the grant application
You need to first have an in-depth look at the grant application. The purpose of this step is to get all the questions you need to provide answers for and all the materials needed for the grant. The best practice is to mark all the keywords or phrases that you will keep on referring to.
Ideally, grants are provided for specific purposes, while going through the grant, try to understand what the grant is meant for and your contributions or your organization’s contributions towards the same. For example, if the grant is intended to promote educations, state how you have worked to ensure that everyone in your community has access to education.
This is very important as it will guide you in your brainstorming. In the process jot down your strong points coupled with examples.
- Prepare a summary statement
Once you have gone through the grant properly, now it is time to prepare a summary of your project. The purpose of this is to begin the application after looking at the bigger picture. This will make it easy for you during the application. You can also use it as the abstract of your grant proposal.
It should have the following:
- A brief explanation of yourself or the organization
- Your project and what you intend to achieve
- The amount you need and how you are going to use it
- Prepare an Outline
The purpose of this outline is to organize your thinking. All the steps of your plan should be included.
You can use the request for proposals that your grantor has provided as the basis for your outline. Ensure that the outline follows the sequence provided by the grantor. All your points should be expanded to make it easy for you to fill the grant application form.
- Identify whether your project is in line with the grantor funding
As mentioned earlier, grantors fund specific projects. Don’t think that grantors have funds to support any project. Before going forward with your application, ascertain that your problem falls under the category that the grantor is willing to support.
Step 3: Proposal Writing
Let’s now look at the important sections of your proposal and what you need to include.
- Cover Letter
The best practice is to write your cover letter last after finishing with everything, but you have to make sure it stands out. This is because your grantor will create a picture of your proposal based on the impression he/she gets from this.
You should avoid addressing it to a general person. It should state briefly the project you need funds for. Note that this is the first contact between you and your grantor, make sure you get them connected to your project and feel the need to support it.
- Executive summary
This comes immediately after the cover letter. The purpose of the executive summary is to give the grantor a brief insight into your project. Ensure that you keep it sweet and short providing all the important information.
This summary provides the grantor and idea of your proposal and what he/she should expect. Make sure that you hook the person going through the same. Note that you can use the summary you had initially prepared.
- Needs Statement
This is the main thing in your grant proposal. You, therefore, have to ensure that you convince your grantor that the project you have in hand is very important and you or your organization are the most appropriate people to perform it.
Your needs statement should be simple and one that can be easily understood. This is important as the reviewer may fail to pick your problem in summary.
You need to give an explanation of the importance of your problem, how you identified it as a problem and what are the possible ways of solving the same. Ensure that you give a reference for the same.
- Goals and Objective
These provide information on your plans to handle the problem. Your goals are basically what you intend to accomplish while the objectives are results that you are likely to get.
Take your goals as the general outcomes of the projects and the objectives should be the steps that you will follow to achieve these outcomes.
Your objectives should be SMART.
- Program Design
The aim of this section is to help your grantor understand how you are going to reach the goals and objectives that you have already identified. It can be a requirement that you come up with a logic model that explains how the various components of your proposal help each other to deliver the goals of your project. Make sure in providing the timeline you are very specific about what you intend to do and when you are going to do it.
- Evaluation Section
This is basically how you are going to assess the success or failure of your project. The grantor wants to ensure that their money accomplishes what it is intended for. You, therefore, have to come up with an evaluation plan. Make sure you state the record you are going to keep and how you are going to use it in the evaluation. If this will result in some additional cost, make sure you include the cost implication in the budget.
You can also state whether you are going to use an external firm in the audit of the project.
This is section is about telling the grantor whether you have any other source of funding or you have approached any other grantor. Majority of the grantors prefer to be part of a group of funders not being sole funders. Ensure that you mention any other funds or support you expect to get whether in cash or in kind. This may include equipment or space.
Apart from that, you have to mention the sustainability of the project, whether it is a pilot project which you intend to finish in a specific timeline or the project is expected to move into the future. In this case, you need to mention how you intend to fund it.
- Brief about your organization
You need to give the funder something about your or your organization. This is with the aim of convincing the grantor that you are the best person to undertake the project and the funds are going to be used efficiently.
In this section, include the following:
- Your history
- The people you serve
- Your track records
- List of the programs you have done
This section is very vital. Assume that the reviewer knows nothing about you or your history even if the same organization has given you grants before.
- Project’s Budget
You need to state the cost of your project. Don’t try to estimate the cost. You must evaluate properly the cost of your project.
Prepare a brief budget of the expected expenses. You can also include the incomes if available.
The following are some of the expenses you need to highlight:
- Personnel costs
- Direct project costs
- Overhead expenses
For incomes, include the following:
- Donations (Contributed income)
- Earned income
- Additional Documents
The following are some of the documents that your funder will want to see:
- IRS letter showing that the organization is exempted from tax
- Your board of directors and the organizations you are affiliated to
- Your current budget
- The budget for next fiscal year, if you are almost getting into the next financial year
Step 4: Finalizing
Compile everything together in readiness to apply.
Make sure you go through everything to ensure that you remove all the possible errors.
Currently, most grants are submitted online.
- Step 5: Follow Up
This is very important to ensure that the funder received your application and that it is under review. It is also an opportunity to talk to the grantors and convince them further.
Don’t rush in making the follower up, wait for at least a week before reaching the grantor.
Make sure that during the review process. In case you manage to get another grantor, you can inform them so that they put it into their consideration.
Don’t be quick to judge, understand that the review process might take a lot of time but that doesn’t mean your application has been rejected.
Why It Is Important to Go Through Sample Grants
You can’t say you know how to apply for a grant without going through examples or sample grants. To get the best samples of grant proposals, look out for the Foundation Center’s Guide to Winning Proposals. Critiques have been provided for each sample.