Do Yourself a Favor And Document the Process

Competitive grant proposals include solid documentation of the problem the requested funding will address, the effectiveness of the applicant organization, commitments made by collaborators, and more.

“We’re clear about the need for documentation in the proposal,” said Barbara Floersch of chief of training and curriculum for The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles. “Unfortunately, we’re usually less clear about the need to document the process of developing that proposal.”

    Pulling together proposals involves myriad decisions and engages a host of staff members and community representatives. Documentation helps you side-step misunderstandings and supports your ability to explain decisions that might later be questioned.

  • Keep minutes of proposal development meetings to verify task assignments and due dates for completion.
  • Keep notes on any decision that required significant discussion or compromise. The notes don’t need to be extensive, but they should capture the rationale for the outcome.
  • Keep notes of how line items were calculated, and why line items which may seem unclear were included.
  • Document commitments of time, money, goods, or services that community members or partner organizations have agreed to contribute. Include the dollar value of non-cash resources and the name and title of the person who made the commitment.
  • Even if a proposal only requires simple citations, keep a full bibliography of data sources on file for future reference.
  • If you receive instructions or clarification from a representative of the funder, send that person an email documenting your conversation. Keep a copy in your files, being sure to include the name and title of the representative, the date of the conversation, and the information you received.

You won’t always need this information, but when you need it, you’ll need it quickly and urgently. “Documenting the process is a professional best-practice. Think of it as a kind of insurance,” said Floersch. © Copyright 2018 The Grantsmanship Center.