"How to Apply for Federal Grants" (2012)
Grantsmanship Center's format has become standard in the field.
8 Sections (information categories)
- Snapshot of entire proposal and provides context
- First thing the reader sees and last thing the writer prepares
- Tells what the organization is and what it does
- Document the qualifications and achievements of the organization in ways that reinforce how you will succeed in implementing the program that you propose later in the proposal
- Heart of the proposal
- Why your organization is seeking a grant
- It describes and documents the situation that concerns your organization and is motivating the grant proposal.
- Specific measurable statements about how your organization expects the problem to change based on the program you intend to implement
- What your organizations will do to produce the program outcome
- E.g., service approaches, activities, etc. and a timeframe for these
- The process that your organization will use to assess implementation and to determine whether or not the program is leading to the outcomes described in section 4.
- Describes how you plan to continue the program after the grant runs out
- "Funders view grants as investments, and so should we all."
- The finances, the resources, and the support that you expect to bring in to continue the program.
- A detailed estimate of the expenses and other resources that will be required to run the program.
Category of Information/
Other Terms for Concept
Abstract; Overview; Synopsis
Introduction of the Applicant Organization/
Applicant Background; Organizational Capacity; Organizational History; Applicant Qualifications
Need; Needs Assessment; Problem Analysis; Problem Statement; Problem Justification
Objectives; Gals; Results; Impact; Program Aims; Outcome Objectives
Activities; Methodology; Procedures; Program Approach; Program Design; Service Strategies; Program Objectives
Plan to Measure; Impact Assessment; Assessment of Success
Future Funding; Sustainability
Line-Item Budget; Costs; Expenses
The section names might be different, but they basically mean the same things that the Grantsmanship Center laid out.
"How to Get a Grant" (2012)
- The Problem section is the most important. It's the heart of the proposal that explains the why.
- Terms used are wildly variable from funder-to-funder.
- This section describes your organizations motivation for seeking support:
- A situation is
- causing harm,
- threatens harm,
- less than ideal, or
- an opportunity.
- Documentation is very important in this section. You must answer the following questions and use evidence to do so.
- What is the situation that concerns you? What does the situation look like?
- Why does it matter? Who or what is affected and how?
- Why is it happening? What's causing it?
- The why is not about your organization or what your organization wants to do.
- Situation that concerns your org (Directly reflects program outcomes.)
- Significance/Why this maters
- Why is this happening? (Directly related to your methods.)
- Don't start with your organization's need for money, or what your organization wants to do.
- Always start with why, a thorough examination of who is affected, how, and why it needs to be addressed.
"How to Write a Mission Statement" (1998/2012)
Role of Mission Statement
- Foster a mutual understanding of the organization's purpose
- Concisely convey that purpose to others
- Serve as a compass to provide direction
Much of the focus is on crafting one, but I'm particularly interested in how it comes into the grant.
Mission statements answer 3 questions
- Purpose: What are the problems, needs, or opportunities that the organization exists to address?
- Business: What is the organization doing to address those needs?
- Values: What guides the work of the organization?
Problems change over time , and organizations evolve to embrace different or larger missions. This demands that you review your mission statement periodically.
- The Mission statement should inspire support and ongoing commitment.
- Don't use jargon. Make it clear and easy to understand.
- Use active language.
- Keep it brief.
- Keep it up-to-date.
"8 Reasons You'll Get the Grant" (2012)
8 Reasons You Won't Get Funded/Reasons You Will:
- You misread directions./Always follow directions.
- You miss the deadline./Stick to deadlines.
- Your proposal doesn't match the funder's interests./Make sure you address the information to your audience and the grant fits.
- Reasoning is confused. Reader can't tell what you're trying to do or why./Be clear and make sure each section creates a cohesive narrative.
- You just want to do good things (shows a superficial approach to the problem)./Demonstrate a complex view of the problem and concrete steps you'll take to address it.
- Proposal is based on beliefs and assumptions./Use facts (particularly numbers).
- Proposal seeks support for your latest idea./Use data, experience, best practices, etc.
- Proposal focuses on your organization's need for money./Focus on your mission.
"How To Win Grants Series: Concept Papers" (2012)
Dealing with all the decisions and all the people involved=the purpose of the concept paper=provides a solid basis for argument.
Brief, 2-3 pages with enough detail to lay out the grant proposal
1. Identify Applicant Org
3. Amount to Be Requested
4. Funding Period
- Issues to be addressed
- Assessment and planning areas
- Outcomes to be achieved
- Overview of methods
- Overview of evaluation plan
- Partner organization and their roles
- Budget, including grant funds to partner organizations and contributions from partners
What's a letter of commitment?
"How To Win Grants Series: Letters of Commitment" (2012)
Letters of Commitment: When grant proposals describe resources that other organizations will commit to a program, letters documenting those commitments should be attached. The only reason not to is if the funder doesn't allow attachments.
Letters should demonstrate enthusiasm but also specifics about what the partner will commit to the project.
Don't attach the letter if...
- it expresses only vague, general support
- the support doesn't assist the program described in the proposal
- the source is questionable
- it offers no commitment of resources
Make sure it deals with the so what. In what way would the opinions in the letter enhance the program?
Unless they say no attachments, you do need to include letters that...
- document specific and meaningful commitments
- sync exactly with the proposal
- are enthusiastic and well-informed
- are signed by someone in a position to commit resources
How to Get Great Letters
1. Engage organizations that have compatible missions and are concerned about the issue.
2. Engage them in defining the problem and in figuring out what the program is going to look like and in planning the program.
3. Find out what resources they can offer, and do they require funds?
4. After you've agreed on the program and how it will function and what resources each will contribute and receive, confirm agreements through a concept paper.
3 Key Points
- Don't expect one day turn around on letters.
- Set a deadline for receipt. (Before you need it.)
- Okay to draft letters for partner, but make sure that they are unique.
Timing is critical.
- Request letters as soon as the program design and budge are set.
- Give at least one week to provide letter.
- Incorporate time for revisions. (Be sure that the letter speaks accurately to the specifics of the proposal.)
- Set deadline for receipt at least a week before proposal submission deadline.
- Process can require 2-3 weeks.
"How to Write an LOI" (2016)
Letter of Inquiry/Letter of Interest/Letter of Intent
2-3 page or online form
Used as a screening tool to see if your intents align with the founding org's interests and to decide if they will request a full grant proposal
Sometimes it's all you submit and the funding decision will be based on it.
1. Always learn about a funder's requirements and follow their instructions. But many funders don't provide instructions. Therefore, they suggest using theirs:
- Future Support