Grants: Document the Process When Developing Grant Proposals

You jump feet first into a dizzying whirl of activity; you’re developing a grant proposal. You’ve got to pull together staff members, community organizations, program and evaluation plans, supporting data, graphics, matching commitments, and budgets.

And then you’ve got to hammer all these bits and pieces into a logical and compelling proposal that conforms to funder requirements.

“When there’s so much going on at once, it’s easy to lose track of a detail, misunderstand a commitment, or forget the basis for establishing a line-item or making a decision,” said Barbara Floersch of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “If you keep good, detailed notes you’ll thank yourself later. Those notes can save you a lot of time and trouble.”

    Floersch offers these tips for avoiding the chaos of lost calculations, unsupported decisions, and misunderstandings with colleagues.

  • After every planning meeting, summarize your understanding of the tasks and deadlines various team members have agreed to complete. Share the notes with the team and ask for immediate clarification if there’s an error.
  • When developing the budget, keep detailed notes describing the calculations you used for establishing line items and laying out the rationale upon which the need for each expense was based.
  • When pulling together in-kind and cash match for the program budget, provide each person and organization that will contribute resources with a detailed summary of your understanding of their obligation. Ask that they confirm your understanding prior to writing a letter of commitment.
  • When confronting a critical program-planning question, write up a brief rationale for the final decision. Even one paragraph explaining the decision and who made it can avoid wasted time and grief if that decision is later second-guessed.Keeping the proposal development process orderly is an effective way to avoid chaos and misunderstandings. “Written documentation of agreements and decisions is a key element of a well-structured approach,” said Floersch. © Copyright 2018 The Grantsmanship Center.