Ask any grants administrator and he or she will probably tell you that reviewing grant applications is part art and part science. If you have you ever submitted a grant proposal, I commend you. Hopefully, the tips I provided in Part 1 were helpful. It is not an easy task to take your enthusiasm, passion and knowledge for project and condense it into a few pages of text, tables and pictures. However, there is such thing as a good proposal and a terrible proposal. Overall, I have noticed that the good proposals that stood out always had three characteristics in common.
- Tell a Story – In the past, the proposals that I reviewed were not overly technical and scientific so there was room for a grantee to craft a story. A statement of need was always included and clearly identified. Then an explanation on how the organization plans to address the need in a systematic manner was included. A stronger case for support connected their goals to concrete outcomes. Also, they defined what success of their program looked like. Even a simple outcome such as increased number of children walking to school strengthened the proposal more than simply saying encouraging children to walk to school.
- Research – The proposal showed that their organization had done the research about the issue. They explained why the request for funding would add value to the community. If another organization was already doing a similar program, they were prepared to answer the question as to why their organization was not collaborating with them.
- Photographs, weblinks and videos – The proposal writers used photographs judiciously. The photo demonstrated an important idea or message better than a sentence could. If you are planning to include a picture, always make sure it is accompanied by a caption connecting it to the proposal. And the same thing applies to weblinks and videos.
In conclusion, it is important to show exactly how funding to your organization will help it accomplish its goals. If you are planning to spend a significant amount of time developing a relationship with a funder, it behooves you to understand what their grantmaking priorities are and to know show that your proposal is aligned with their grantmaking goals. Especially, if your request is risky, unconventional or outside their normal area of expertise.