Preparing a Grant Application
The Benefits of Grant Writing
Organizations that give sufficient time and support to planning and grant writing benefit from clarified goals, more tangible objectives, clearer plans, better evaluation plans, improved record keeping, and better financial management. Furthermore, writing a successful application to a government agency demonstrates to corporate and other private funding sources your organization’s administrative ability and offers the opportunity for them to match your grant with their contributions. Time spent on preparing a proposal is a good investment.
Planning a Grant Proposal
- Give yourself enough time to carefully plan your project. Don’t wait until the deadline is at hand to begin planning! Taking time to prepare an exemplary application helps to demonstrate your organization’s ability to carry out your plans.
- Read the grant guidelines carefully to make sure that the activities for which you seek funding address the goals of the Commission. Is the Commission a logical funding source for your project?
- Read the program descriptions. If you are not sure which grant program to apply to, call the Commission and speak with a program director.
- Review the anticipated outcomes listed in the program descriptions under which you plan to apply. You should be able to tell how your project will achieve one or more of these outcomes.
- Who will benefit from this project? Talk with them before you begin writing. Make sure that your intended audience wants or needs what your project will offer. Involve your community/audience in the planning and production process.
- By the same token, involve the project personnel in the planning. Whether you plan to present a touring company or hire a consultant, all parties involved should agree on the services to be provided and fees before you write your proposal.
- Be realistic and specific in your planning. Carefully assess the costs, personnel needs and time requirements for your project.
- Pay close attention to planning how you will evaluate your project. For assistance with planning an evaluation, turn to “Suggestions for Evaluating Projects and Programs” in this Appendix.
- If you have any questions, talk with a Commission staff member.
- Review the grant guidelines, especially the How to Apply section.
- Respond to all application requirements, observing length restrictions, requirements for attachments and numbers of copies.
- Gather any documentation that is required well in advance of the deadline (e.g., a list of your board of directors, IRS letter, letters of support, etc.).
- Remember: Incomplete applications will not be accepted and will be returned to the applicant.
Writing a Narrative Description of the Project
- Outline your narrative before you start writing.
- Keep your readers – the review panelists – in mind as you write. Assume they know nothing about your organization or your project. Avoid vagueness and jargon in your writing. Be as specific and concrete as possible.
- Keep the Review Criteria by which grant awards are made in front of you as you write your proposal. Be sure to address all of the criteria in your narrative description of the project. Review panelists are charged with evaluating proposals based on the published criteria.
- Allow time for proofreading and rewriting.
- Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that your proposal is clear. Have someone from outside your organization read your proposal for clarity (as well as for typographical errors, grammar and spelling). This is the best test of whether or not a complete stranger (i.e., a panelist) will understand it.
Remember that the right attachments (e.g., a project timetable, a résumé or biography, a printed brochure) can enhance your narrative and provide information that narrative page limitations disallow.