What is a Grant?

Grants are funds that are disbursed to a recipient or organization by a government department, foundation, or corporation to fund a specific project. To receive a grant, an application or proposal must be submitted to a potential funder and the recipient must meet certain qualifications. This could require the individual or business to have tax-exempt status or become registered as a local government or nonprofit organization. This commonly occurs with nonprofit programs, freelance writers, graphic artists, and various educational projects that require funding to maintain. In many cases, these grants do not need to be repaid but must be tracked, making it extremely important for grant proposals to be as concise and detailed as possible.

Developing Ideas for the Proposal

For a successful grant proposal, the applicant should be familiar with all the criteria that are related to the program, basic requirements, and knowledge of application forms and procedures. The grant proposal should be thoughtfully prepared and packaged before submission. The process typically begins with a Request for Proposal (RFP) which must be approved before the project details can begin development. As an organization competing against others for the same funds, it’s essential that project goals be clearly established.

Community Support

Once the grant proposal has been developed, it’s important to look for community support. Individuals or groups who represent professional, academic, or political organizations can be extremely persuasive to the agency who is conducting the review process and may be required or requested as part of the grant proposal. Letters of support or endorsement from local government agencies that detail the project commitment and sanction can be very valuable to the grantor agency. Community support can be found through local meetings to persuade the top decision makers in the community to understand and approve of your concept and gain support by neighboring community groups.

Identification of a Funding Resource

For a grant proposal to be considered as a sufficient candidate for funding, the grantor agency and applicant should have the same intentions. The Catalog Browse sections, as well as the Types of Assistance section of the program catalog can assist applications in making a choice of related programs. Once an organization has found a potential grantor agency, they can call to request a grant application kit and ask the agency for advice and suggestions on the specific project. It’s also a common practice to visit the agency’s headquarters or regional office to establish details face-to-face and secure the proposal and references.

Getting Organized to Write the Proposal

Throughout the grant proposal process, it’s essential to stay organized and keep notes and ideas written on paper. Maintain several files for accessibility, such as “Ideas”, “Proposal Outline”, “Resources”, etc. Documents should also be collected and stored, including tax exemption certifications, incorporation articles, and bylaws. Finalized proposals should be cleanly typed, free of errors, easy to read, and packaged neatly. Binding may require hard covers to present an attractive and well organized final proposal that will leave a positive impression on its readers.

Outlining Project Goals

The grant proposal should clearly outline the project in a summary near the beginning of the proposal. This could be on a separate page or on the cover letter but should only be a brief two to three paragraph section of text. The proposal project summary should consist of all the important points and objectives that were outlined throughout the final proposal. Since the summary will be one of the most important sections of your grant application, it’s critical that it fully supports your ideas to impress the grantor agency. The influence and consequences of the project should also be highlighted and explained towards the end of the proposal.

Presenting a Credible Applicant or Organization

For a successful grant proposal, the applicant must gather information from several aspects of the organization involved. Many grant proposals require applicants to describe the organization and its operations from the past and present. When developing a credible grant application, be sure to include a brief biography of key staff members and board members. It’s also recommended to include the goals and objectives of the organization, tract record with other grantors, philosophies, and positive success stories. Finally, add in any available data on the goals of the grantor agency to help establish credibility on the applicant’s behalf.

Stating the Problem/Purpose

The problem or purpose of the proposal should be documented clearly within the proposal as this key element will be the underlying factor of whether or not you receive the grant. Both formal and informal assessment documents should be collected. This factual information should address the purpose of creating the proposal and its beneficiaries. The applicant should also mention the economic and social costs that will be affected if funding does occur, as well as the nature of the problem along with evidence if possible. Additional information, such as how the organization discovered that a problem existed and what is currently being done to fix the issue. Be sure to discuss other alternatives that remain when funding is exhausted.

Designing a Plan of Action

The designing of the final expectations, or plan of action, refers to how the organization plans to solve the problem stated in the proposal. The design should include a flow chart that states the organizational features, as well as details about the project. The plan should discuss the various forms of transportation, faculties, and services required to put forth this solution. Diagrams may be developed to hold separate sections of information, such as inputs, throughputs and outputs. Always justify why a certain course has been taken and what financial expenses may be associated with the project.

Planning the Budget

Funding can change yearly and therefore should not be your own source of financial support for the proposed project. There are many aspects that should be considered when creating a project budget, including hidden costs that may be subject to inflationary pressures. Within your budget, be sure to create room for rental costs, utilities, equipment, buildings, food, salary increases, insurance, telephones, internet, and transportation. There may also be costs associated with audits, evaluation systems, leases, down-payments, accounting systems, and other long-term commitments that could put a damper on your project budget.

Additional Grant Resources

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