Graduate Studies & Research
Holloway Hall
Applying

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Faculty with a snake
 

Applying for a Grant/Contract

Grantseeker's Checklist

_____ Before starting the application process, be clear about what you want to accomplish. Draw up a long-range plan that projects goals at least five years ahead.
   
_____ Research potential funders thoroughly - a cursory look through a foundation directory isn't good enough. Then apply what you've learned. Don't ignore a funder's guidelines in hopes of "fitting" your proposal into their niche.
   
_____ Only preview successful applications from grantseekers whose projects are similar to yours. You'll not only get some good ideas, but an understanding of the competition, too.
   
_____ Once you verify available funding, divide your efforts into three further phases: writing the proposal, marketing, and management.
   
_____ Writing the proposal should take only about 40% of your time. Try to get program officials to review a 3-5 page summary of your plan first, to make sure you're on the right track.
   
_____  Basic rules of proposal-writing: Don't ask for more than you need; take your time writing the proposal; never lie; never use the same application twice; be up-front about asking for money; and don't waste time - get straight to the point.
   
_____ Don't overlook marketing. It should take as least 10% of your time. Make sure your organization will appeal to a potential funder, try to look professional, and involve key community figures where possible.
   
_____ Management is vital. You must be able to demonstrate that you have the management skills and experience that can deliver success.
   
_____ Know the funder. It's been estimated that your chances of success improve by as much as 300% when you make contact with the funder before and during the proposal-writing process. Don't ask for hidden agendas, but find out about general trends or new ideas the funder is currently interested in.
   
_____ Always work to a timetable. Make sure you have enough time to complete your application so it meets the funder's deadlines. If you don't have time to do it properly, don't compete for the grant at all.
   
_____ Give thought to the idea of cooperation. Many funders, particularly federal agencies, like applications where more than one organization is involved. If you submit a cooperative proposal, remember to make sure that there is both a formal and informal relationship between grantees.
   
_____ When dealing with any funder, but especially federal agencies, remember to read the instructions before applying. It sounds simple, but federal competitions live by two rules: 1) The agency is always right, and 2) When in doubt, refer to rule 1.
   
_____ Don't just tell the funder about the existence of the problem you intend to solve. Prove it with statistics, case studies, testimony, and any other measurable data.
   
_____ Know your budget. It's probably the first thing a funder will look at in your proposal. It needs to be realistic and give credibility to your entire proposal. Present the budget separately from the rest of the application and make sure the figures are correct and that the budget accurately reflects your needs. Keep a record of how you arrived at your costs.
   
_____ A few other writing hints: 1) Avoid filling your proposal with jargon. 2) Begin each section with a strong, clear sentence. 3) Don't go overboard, but do try to make your proposal interesting to read. 4) Check with the funder to see if there's a preferred format, type style, etc.
   
_____ If your proposal doesn't win support, keep calm. Never berate funding officials or grant reviewers. Try to get more information and ask whether it would be worth submitting another application in the future. Go back over your proposal with care and see if you can find places where it might have been stronger.
   
_____ The key to a strong proposal is proving the likelihood that it will achieve its goals. Result areas should always be clearly determined and measurement indicators should be outlined. It may not be easy to do, but the value of having clear performance standards can't be underestimated.
   
_____ Remember that often the key to a strong proposal is simplicity. Don't waste words. Funders are looking for a proposal that will succeed, so keep things clear, factual, supportable, and professional.
   
_____  Don't give in to pressure. A rushed proposal rarely wins. Keep a file with standard information enclosed and updated, like staff resumes and community statistical data, so you can concentrate on the specific grant information needed when the time to apply arrives.
   
_____ When dealing with foundations or corporate funders, don't overlook the importance of the original contact letter. Make it as strong as possible and keep it to the point.
   

Reprinted from Grantseeker's Checklist, CD Publications