This guide is designed to lead the grant writer through the process of writing the grant and submitting all required information.
Grant Writing Guide
Grant writing requires patience and attention to detail. The process of writing a grant involves understanding certain areas of information which the grantor will need when determining awards. As well, there are generally guidelines for submission and submission dates for grants which must be adhered to exactly in order to be considered for funding. The following guide is designed to lead the grant writer through the process of writing the grant and submitting all required information in order to successfully obtain a desired grant.
Before You Begin
Prior to starting a grant, one needs to answer two important questions in order to focus the writing of the grant. These questions include:
Who are you and what do you need to achieve?
Do you know what needs to be done and how you want to achieve it?
Although these may seem like simple questions, they are important to the the completion of a successful grant. By answering these questions, a grant writer narrows the needs and functions of the grant to a concise and clear idea. This will allow the grant to flow and create a strong message.
Once the writer has a clear idea of the purpose of the grant and what needs to be achieved then a proposal summary should be written. This summary will clearly articulate the applicant identity as well as credibility such as years dealing with the particular problem. Most importantly this summary needs to state the issue or problem that the grant will be used (Zimmerman, 1994). Along with the problem there are several more concept which need to be related such as:
· Activities intended to achieve objectives
· Total cost of the project and amount requested (Young, 2003).
This summary should brief and to the point. Do not overelaborate in this area as the following sections of the grant will provide the details for what is stated in this area. This is meant to be an overview of the grant.
The needs statement is the full explanation of the problem that the grant is intended to be used to solve or manage. It is important for a needs statement to communicate a problem clearly so the grant needs will clearly be understood by all stakeholders (Zimmerman, 1994). In this statement the writer is trying to sell the need for the funding so there should be no ambiguity or misunderstanding in why the grant is needed. The need of the grant is the main idea and selling point, so it should be the focus of the proposal. The needs statement should be written around the problem as a justification. In this way, the needs statement is a justification for the necessity of the grant. In this way, the needs statement provides evidence and facts to support the need for the program being proposed. The real question for the need statement is what is necessary for it to be effective in justifying the grant. For example, purpose, goals, and target populations would all be necessary information (Zimmerman, 1994). As well any supporting evidence should be presented to emphasis the need.
The objectives are a description of the problem as related with outcomes. Do not describe the methodology, just the outcomes. This part of the grant needs to describe the objective s in realistic terms such as reducing a problem by certain amounts over a term. Goals need to be measurable and should demonstrate effectiveness in how they are accomplished. A powerful tool for establishing goals is SMART or Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound (Zimmerman, 1994). Using SMART, one can systematically create goals which are relevant and realistic to the grant and target group.
This section of the grant needs to describe the exact manner in which the program activities will take place and specifically what these activities include. The methodology will flow naturally from problem and objectives. The reason for the activities should coincide with the achievement of the objectives (Zimmerman, 1994).
Within the methodology the staff and client selection should be described. Along with the staff and client selection process, the time and resources should also be reflected (Zimmerman, 1994). This area of the methodology is important because it shows the exact manner in which objectives can be achieved.
When writing the budget, it is important that all costs are accounted for and the costs are presented accurately. The budget needs to reflect all costs for the entire term of the grant. Most grants have a budget form and this will need to be filled out carefully. There are several areas of information which need to be clearly defined within the budget. This information includes:
· The budget should demonstrate that grant funds are aligned with funding agency policies.
· Describe how costs are derived.
· Discuss necessity and reasonableness.
· Describe specific functions of personnel, consultants, purchases, etc.
· Match activities, resources, and staff to cost/budgetary items (Young, 2003).
If there are areas of confusion or difficulty with determining exact cost than a budget narrative should be used to clarify. A budget narrative is an explanation of unusual line items in the budget that may use charts and tables. This is not always needed because most costs are straightforward and are readily understood. The budget narrative can be extremely important to the actual budget because it will explain the need for funds that may not be readily understood. This narrative is especially important when costs are estimated and these costs need to be justified (Zimmerman, 1994). In this case, the narrative can be the compelling part of the proposal for gaining the proper funding from the grantor.
In order to determine program success one would need to use some form of a performance based budgeting system. This system of budgeting provides a means of measuring performance along with cost. This type of budget measures a cost per outcome. The cost going into the particular budget (inputs) are weighed against the outcomes or (outputs) (Young, 2003). This conversion and comparison of inputs and outputs is the measure used to evaluate the budgets efficiency and success. This could be used in the program objectives.
Another method that could be used is Social Return on Investment. SROI does not have an immediate benefit that can be seen in ROI (Young, 2003). ROI can be broken down into tangible dollars and cents were as SROI is more intangible (Young, 2003). Despite this issue with SROI, the measure is still vital because it provides a benefit that goes beyond the financial nature of the program or service.
A final method of performance objective could be the measure of surplus vs deficit of a program. Ideally a program seeks to breakeven but a surplus can be acceptable when it is connected with other factors such as performance.
In order to show transparency and credibility a grant needs to include an evaluation process. This section of the grant is used to clarify program objectives and to show that the program is being conducted in a manner that is consistent with the goals. This section will include:
· evaluation criteria
· data gathering methods
· explanations of tools such as tests or surveys
· measures of outcomes, impact
· a description of the process of analyzing data (Young, 2003).
One means of providing a credible evaluation process is to provide an audit process. Most Grantors will desire to have an audit performed and it makes sense that the audit process be included in the grant.
Grants can be long so to maximize space and make them concise, place all charts, tables, maps, and graphs in the final section (Zimmerman, 1994). Only include visual aids in the grant sections where they are use to emphasize main points.
In this section of the grant, the writer will include all required information such as tax forms, financial statements, and current funding sources. This will also contain any information that may be necessary to the grantor such as lists of clients or current applicable budget. It is important that all required documents be included in this area.
The grant writing needs to reflect a specific vision or need for funding. Grants that follow the steps in this guide will be far more likely to achieve successful and sustainable funding. Just be sure to be accurate with all information and that the grant is formatted properly.
Young, R. D. (2003, January). Performance-Based Budget Systems. Public Policy & Practice , 12.
Zimmerman, R. M. (1994). Grantseeking: A Step-by-Step Approach. San Francisco, CA: Zimmerman, Lehman and Associates.