Basics of Writing a Grant Proposal

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Basics Of Writing A Grant Proposal Class #1: The Basics of Grant Writing Before you start writing your proposal, there are several things that you should consider. The first, obviously, is the type of assistance that you’re applying for, and the agency to which you intend to apply. Since those topics are covered in the “How to apply” section, we’ll assume that you’re already familiar with how to chose a grant and locate a donor agency. Remember, you MUST do the necessary research and planning be
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  Basics Of Writing A Grant Proposal Class #1: The Basics of Grant Writing  Before you start writing your proposal, there are several things that you should consider. The first,obviously, is the type of assistance that you’re applying for, and the agency to which you intend toapply. Since those topics are covered in the “How to apply” section, we’ll assume that you’re alreadyfamiliar with how to chose a grant and locate a donor agency. Remember, you MUST do thenecessary research and planning before attempting to write your proposal, or in all likelihood your  proposal will be rejected.You should also keep in mind that there are different kinds of grant requests, so your technique willvary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For our purposes, we’ll break grant requestsdown in to the following categories:Business Loans  Example: You want to start a coffee shop.   Scholarships  Example: You need moneyto get a degree.   Community Improvement  Example: You want to start a shelter for battered women. Personal Assistance.  Example: You need job retraining, or want money to write a book. While the basics of grant writing remain the same for each of these areas, there are small differencesthat we’ll explain to you as we continue on through these classes. For now, it’s only important thatyou know what kind of grant you want, and where you intend to get it.So, assuming that you’ve done your Due Diligence, let’s look at the basic sections of a GrantProposal. (Please keep in mind that these are general overviews- it may be that the specificorganization that you’re contacting will require different information.)  Section Two: Summary Every proposal should begin with a summary briefly outlining the proposal. This instantly allows theGrant Officer to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. This is by far the most importantsection of your proposal. You do not want the Grant Officer to be confused as to your aims and goals,and you don’t want them trying to figure out the point of your request when they’re reading the inner material. The Summary tells them what you’re trying to do; the rest of the proposal tells them whythey should help you do it. IMPORTANT:   Most rejected grants fail because of mistakes made on THIS PAGE! If your summaryisn't compelling and convincing, none of the rest of your proposal matters.   ã Be brief. ã Be concise. ã Get directly to the point. ã Keep the summary to around 4-5 sentences at most. ã Include a contact name and phone number.Example:Education Outreach requests $20,000 for an ongoing Adult Literacy program for illiterateadults in the New Jersey area. Classes will be presented at ten local libraries, and willinclude basic reading and writing skills, along with a support group.  John SmithAddressPhone Number/Fax NOTE:You may decide to do a Cover Page and/or Title Page for your proposal. These aren’t necessary, buttend to make your proposal look more professional. Cover Letter: Optional. Cover letters are usually very brief, contain little more than a greeting and the sameinformation covered in the Summary, and should be signed by the highest ranking member of your organization, if the proposal is being submitted by a group. It should also contain contact information. Title Page: Optional. If you include one, limit it to the title of your proposal, your organization’s name andaddress, the date you submitted it, and the agency and program to which you are applying. NOTE:Be sure to know exactly what type of assistance you’re asking for, be it a scholarship, venture capital,a research grant, technical assistance, capital improvement, etc. You’re more likely to be approved if the Grant Officer feels that you know what you’re asking for. Organization/Personal Information This is the section of your proposal where you introduce yourself to the donor agency, and try toconvince them that you’re worthy of their time, effort, and money. This section is where you sellyourself, not your grant request. You should provide a few paragraphs describing yourself or your group. Keep it brief, direct, and honest.If you are an individual, tell them who you are, your location, give a bit of background information,and try to convince them that you’re the type of individual that deserves their aid.If you’re preparing the grant proposal for an organization, briefly outline the history, goals, andaccomplishments of your group. Outline the activities in which your group engages, outline your  budget and financial history, list your corporate officers and any prominent board members, anddescribe your ties to the community. NOTE: For an organization, list: ã History ã General Purpose ã Goals and objectives as they relate to your grant proposal. ã Accomplishments, especially as they relate to the grant proposal. ã Service areas and population served.Remember that you’re trying to establish credibility with your potential benefactors. Don’t lie or exaggerate, as they WILL find out, and then your chances of receiving aid are zero.  It’s good to remember that you may be in competition for other groups/individuals for the samemoney. For instance, you might be competing with dozens of other students for a particular scholarship, or you might be trying to start a youth center in an area where another center is alreadyreceiving funding. Try to establish your personal identity, and why you deserve the grant more thananyone else. If you work in conjunction with similar organizations to your own, explain the synergy between your groups.  Proposal Description We’re finally here: This is where you actually ask for money or assistance. This is the meat and potatoes of your proposal. If you’re asking for a business loan or a scholarship, it’s where youdescribe your needs and convince the donor that you’re worthy of their assistance. If you’re a non- profit organization, it’s where you convince them that you’re addressing a valid community need.There’s no real ‘right’ way to construct your proposal, but if you follow these guidelines, your chances of success will increase dramatically. Explain why you’re asking for assistance. If you’re a student, explain why you have special needs, or why you deserve a scholarship. If you’rean Organization, tell them what you’re trying to do- maybe you’re caring for cancer victims, or  providing wheelchairs for the elderly. Let them know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Spell everything out. Don’t assume that the Grant Officer knows what you’re talking about. Grant Officers deal with the big picture- they may provide research grants, but they probably don’t know why your particular branchof research is important. Appeal to their emotions. Give them a reason to feel empathy for your goals and needs. For example, if you’re applying for aPolice Survivors Grant, feel free to tell them about your relative who was a police officer. If you’reseeking money for battered women, describe the plight of one of the women you’re trying to help. Appeal to their business sense.  Nobody wants to waste money. Grant providers want to know that you have a valid, feasible plan for their cash, and that their money is being well-spent. Provide a clear, brief outline of how much moneyyou need, and what you need it for. Use specific numbers, not general terms. Write “We will need$20,000 for the coming fiscal year”, not “We require thousands of dollars to meet our goals.” Put your proposal in personal terms. Describe how your proposed Youth Center would benefit your community, or how attending medicalschool will allow you to help children in your home town. Don’t write “I want help end worldhunger”, write “There are over 500 homeless families in Monroe County, and we want to make surethat every disadvantaged child is fed”. Remember that your proposal is a solution, not a problem. For instance, let’s say that you want to build a Youth Center. Don’t write “The lack of Youth Centersis a real problem in our area.” The problem in your area is the problems that teens face: drugs, pregnancy, and/or alcohol abuse. Your Youth Center is a SOLUTION to these problems. Your  proposal shouldn’t be about your needs, it should be about community needs. Even if you’re applyingfor something like a scholarship, you need to remember to phrase your proposal in such a way as toshow the benefits to your State, community, or local area.  Be clear regarding the problem you’re addressing. If there are other institutions that are addressing the same issue, show how you differ from them.Show how you address areas that they do not. For example, perhaps there is already a batteredwomen’s shelter in your area, but it doesn’t have facilities for housing women and children whileabuse cases are being investigated. Explain how you plan to solve the problem you’ve outlined. Don’t write “We’re going to feed the hungry.” Write “We’re going to solicit donations from localgrocers and restaurants to provide food that will then be distributed at our shelter by a staff of volunteers.” Give them a happy ending. Explain how your proposal will change things for the better. Tell them how a scholarship will helpyou break the cycle of poverty in your family and allow you to give back to the community. Tell themhow your business will grow the economy in your area. Tell them what you need to accomplish your goals. Be specific. Tell them exactly what you’re hoping to have financed. If you need cars to deliver food tothe homebound, then tell them, along with the exact amount you expect to spend on cars. Justify every penny that you’re requesting. Give them your qualifications. Explain other projects you’ve done, or relay your academic achievements- give them reasons to believe that they’re not wasting their money on you.Be positive! If you don’t believe in your proposal, they won’t either.Provide a tracking method and timelines/deadlines for your project. Show them that you actuallyexpect to accomplish your goals, and let them know that you’ll keep them informed of your progress. If you can, offer them some form of recognition. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and donors especially like to see their name recognized for their contributions. You may not be able to recognize a scholarship donor, but if you’re adding a wing to ahospital, you should certainly offer to name it after a major contributor, or at least provide them with a plaque or some other method of recognition.  Business Plan This section of your proposal only applies to small business grants and non-profit proposals. If you're preparing a scholarship proposal, you won't include this section.The business plan is where you convince the donor organization that you know what you're doing.Much as you wouldn't build a house without blueprints, donors won't fund a business or organizationwithout a business plan. You need to include a detailed list of what needs to be done to complete your  project.  Results It's important that the donor know that you have an end goal- a goal beyond simply give me money. You should include a section that explains what you plan to achieve with their money. It could be assimple as If you see fit to honor me with this scholarship, I will complete medical school and becomea Pediatrician, providing quality health care to the children of my community. Or it might be as
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