Defining collaborations in grant proposals

In developing programs and delivering services, most organizations collaborate with other groups. “High-quality collaborations add credibility to grant proposals,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles. “Be sure to highlight and define partnerships, even when funders don’t require it.” Here’s a roster of points to address.

  • Introduce partners. Before diving into details about what partners will do, tell the reader a little about each one. Be brief, highlighting each partner’s expertise and success.
  • Define participation. Define how each partner will be involved in program implementation. Detail exactly what each will do and how much they’ll do.
  • Specify contributions. Highlight the resources, staff, facilities, and expertise each partner will provide. Include these contributions as either cash or in-kind resources in the budget section of the proposal.
  • Explain sub-awards. If a portion of the grant will go to partner organizations, discuss that in the narrative, and be sure the line-item budget shows how partners will spend the funds.
  • Define process and authority. Collaborations are powerful but not always easy. Show that there’s a clear process in place for handling sub-awards, making decisions, and managing joint efforts.
  • Document the connection. Unless the funder forbids attachments, it’s essential to include letters of commitment or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). The letters or MOUs must line up exactly with the partner roles and contributions specified in the narrative and budget.