Since writing my April blog entry, Tis the Season I’ve been asked to provide grant writing suggestions beyond Grant Writing 101: Answer the Questions. I am happy to present Grant Writing 102.
It is important to remember that every grant opportunity is unique. Often the request for proposal (RFP) or application will give you an outline to follow. The outline will ask you a group of questions which will comprise your narrative. Fortunately, although all RFP’s are different, there are a number of questions that are fairly standard. They show up in some form on most applications.
Common Question (CQ) #1: Statement of the Problem.
The funding entity needs to determine if backing a project in your geographic region will give them an optimal return on investment. You must address the problem that the RFP has defined; if you want to address about another issue, choose another funding source.
However, this is your opportunity to describe the impact the problem is having on your community. Make sure that you use facts and cite sources. Your opinion on the matter is not important.
Make the strongest argument possible. If the teen pregnancy rate in your area is the lowest in the nation, the funder may be disinclined to support your proposed prevention program. However, if the percentage of teen parents who are the subject of founded abuse complaints in your town is substantially higher than the national average, you may have a good case.
CQ #2: Describe your organization.
Usually the application requires a brief summary of your organization. You’ll want to reference the organization’s history, mission, and services. Emphasize activities that demonstrate your ability to carry out the proposed program, as well as programs that would support the new venture in some way.
One variation on this question asks for an account of your organizational capacity. In other words:
- What is it about your organization that makes it supremely qualified to carry out this project?
- What are your strengths?
- What successes have you achieved?
- What is the organization’s experience managing grants of similar magnitude?
- Do you follow general accounting principles?
Yet another variation asks specifically about your financial capabilities.
- What systems are in place to ensure accurate financial management?
CQ #3: Describe your management plan.
- Who will oversee the project and what are his/her credentials to do so?
- What will be the specific duties of all positions funded by the proposed project?
If the project will be staffed by incumbent personnel, be prepared with a brief statement regarding their qualifications.
And finally, CQ# 4:
How will you continue the project in the event funding does not continue beyond the initial award?
I think this is my favorite question. Answering it requires a mixture of creativity and bluntness.
- Are you going to seek additional resources?
- Will you continue the program on a smaller scale?
- How committed are you to addressing the problem?
It is a good idea to think about this even if the question isn’t asked directly. The answer will help you to determine if you have enough organizational commitment, resources, and energy to pursue the project.
As simple as these questions may seem at first glance, a successful application is one that puts considerable thought into the answers. As I’ve said before, writing a strong grant application is not a complicated process, but uncomplicated doesn’t mean easy.
You may find it helpful to develop, in advance, standard answers that you can use in multiple applications. You will have to modify your responses to be certain you are answering the specific questions asked, but it will save you time, and ensure that you are presenting a polished narrative.
Happy Grant Writing!