How do I prepare when writing grant proposals?

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Answered by: Mary Teresa, An Expert in the Writing Grant Proposals Category
How do I prepare to write a grant proposal?

Firstly, it may seem glaringly obvious but many people writing grant proposals fail to read the funder criteria and a surprising amount of applicants endlessly waste hours of time and submit a proposal to a grantor that is not eligible!

For instance: the funder may only make awards to certain types of organisation such as non-profits or SMEs; they may only operate in certain geographical areas; they may only fund certain philanthropic activities, usually with priority themes and key topics, so check all details systematically.

If you are hitting all the key criteria, develop a plan of action to ensure you have plenty of time to complete the application process which can sometimes be more comprehensive than anticipated. Next, try and find out as much as you can about what motivates the grantor. Look at why they were set up and what their mission and values are. If possible look at other projects they have funded, which will be invaluable in enabling you to sell your project to them in the terms that most appeal to their vision, aims and objectives.

The job analogy

Writing grant proposals should be treated as if it were a dream job you are applying for - you wouldn't expect to be interviewed for a top position without intensive background research on the company and hours spent on a perfect application. This is even more imperative in today's economic climate with scant resources and a great deal of competition.

All the major governmental and charitable funders have had sharp declines in available funds in the last few years and many more applicants to boot. Organisations from large public and educational bodies, to small grass roots groups, have been squeezed by lack of resources and a need to look for multiple sources of income. Therefore, only the best get through. But they do get through and it is still possible to win grants with determination and persistence!

Completing the application

Assess the application process fully. The majority of grant proposals are completed online and often require registration before you begin. Portal applications can be saved as you go along, so do not need to be finished in one fell swoop and this means that you can go away and start collating other data that you may need.

Typically this could include: budgetary costs such as salary information; overhead costs; copies of documents such as annual accounts, equality and diversity policies and governance documents.

If you have partners on your grant proposal information will often have to be obtained from them, such as salary details and other data. This will add another layer of complexity in order to negotiate their contribution and budget and to make sure you are still within the grantor parameters.

If you are unsuccessful, don't give up! Obtain feedback and move on to the next funder learning from unsuccessful applications, and eventually you too will reap the rewards of writing a successful grant proposal.

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