Before digging into the first proposal, grantseekers should think closely about whether they’re ready to go for the grant. According to Holly Thompson, contributing editor for the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, a good start is to outline clear, well thought-out answers to these questions:
Problem and Need: What is the problem or need you want to address? Can you express it in a way that will be compelling and convincing? Do you have statistical evidence, case examples, and stories to illustrate the importance of the situation?
Project Approach or Idea: Do we have a good idea? Is there evidence that your approach will work? Can you point to research or examples of others who have used the approach to good effect?
Impact: Why do you think the project will produce results? What do you expect to accomplish? Can you quantify the specific, positive changes (outcomes) you anticipate?
Leadership and Execution: Who will lead the project and who will implement it? Do you have the people you need to get the results you want? What qualities do you need in new hires in order to execute the project with excellence?
Project Costs/Funding: How much will the project will cost? What are the line items? Are the costs reasonable and can you make a good argument to justify every expense? Do you have several strong funding prospects?
Capacity: Does your organization have the capacity to oversee the project if it’s funded? Can it handle the reporting, documentation, and evaluation requirements? Does it have the financial management resources to track expenses and ensure the proper use of grant funds?
“Some first-time grant seekers have the misconception that if they write the grant proposal, the money will come,” said Thompson. But it takes more than just writing up a project. “Having a thoughtful strategy and doing good preparation are essential before putting fingers to keyboard,” she said.