Using Data And What Not To Do
Strong grant proposals use relevant data to support the request for funding. “You can spot an experienced grantseeker by how artfully they use data,” said Barbara Floersch, Executive Director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “The successful grant professionals I know are obsessed with data.” Here are a few dos and don’ts for competing with the pros.
- Use data to define the problem your program will address, the population it will serve, and the efficacy of the approach you propose.
- Cite sources. Use simple citations within the text or simple footnotes. Occasionally funders request a bibliography.
- Use data related to the specific service area in which you are working. Don’t assume that national or global data support the need for services within your local community.
- Use comparative data when possible. Tables or charts showing how the situation in your service area compares with other areas can be powerful.
- Use a mix of hard data (facts and figures) and soft data, which convey the experiences and feelings of those affected by a problem. Hard data convince the head, and soft data inform the heart.
- Don’t use old data, unless it’s seminal or nothing more up-to-date is available. If you must use data that are more than a few years old, explain why the data are relevant.
- Be sure data are from reputable sources. Quotes from a local enthusiast‘s blog on education reform probably won’t carry much weight. Relevant data from the website of the US Department of Education will.
- Don’t mistake opinion for objective data.