Justifying the methods section of proposals

August 25, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

To strengthen the methods section of your grant proposal, begin with a brief summary of the approach and a short justification of why you chose it. “Don’t begin by burying the reader in a blizzard of details describing multiple activities,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. “Orient the reader and organize the information into a digestible format to help the reader get on board with the plan.”

Summarizing the program approach is fairly simple, but grants writers sometimes struggle to explain why they chose it. Here are a few strong justifications for the choice of a particular approach:

It aligns with causes of the problem. “For methods to produce results, they’ve got to respond directly to the causes of the problem the program will address,” said Floersch. Demonstrating that the proposed approach is a best bet for breaking the cause-and-effect cycle is a slam-dunk justification.

It’s proven to be successful. The approach you’re proposing might have been declared a best practice for addressing the problem, or rigorous evaluation might have proven that it produces good results. Perhaps your organization has a strong track record of implementing the approach and can cite documented outcomes. Demonstrating that the approach has been successful gives the reader confidence in your plan.

It’s the best fit with participants. Specific cultural, economic, health, or other issues might be at play in the population you’ll engage. “In some situations a standard approach isn’t a good fit,” said Floersch. “When you need to tweak methods to respond to special circumstances, explain that.” Proposing methods that are sensitive to participant needs reinforces confidence that your organization is the right pick for the job.

Maybe the approach is promising and also the most cost-effective or affordable. Maybe it’s the most sustainable or the only one supported by the community. “By articulating a strong, honest justification for your approach, you’re increasing the likelihood of a grant award,” said Floersch. © Copyright 2015 The Grantsmanship Center. All Rights Reserved.

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