Monday, October 01, 2007

That Program, Project, or Item: Writing In Your Proposal About What You Need the Grant For

When you sit down to write the paragraph or two about the program, project, or item that you are asking for a grant for, have a couple things handy for yourself:

__ Have answers to the basic questions' about the program or item, itself; who/what will it serve, who will provide the service, what, when, where, why do this, and how. Be sure that you get this information from the program/project manager; and confirm the details with both your bookkeeper and your executive director.

__ Have the timeline for the program, project, or item (from program design to the projected end of the program, for instance).

__ Have the program budget. If one is still needed and you aren't sure how to create a budget for your grant proposal, see my post, "The Word "Gets" Is In "Budgets" .

__ Have a list of every person and their official title that will contribute any hours to the program. Have a total list of each person (or peoples' positions) and estimated total time contribution. Include the planning stage.

__ Have a list of all of the partners, other organizations, or professionals (outside of your organization) in the community who are either involved in the whole program, or will collaborate during part of it.

__ Have the latest journal articles, recent local press investigations, scientific findings, or other reputable sources that demonstrate that this program/project or item is of the latest sound thinking in your field.

__ Have the latest journal articles, recent local press investigations, scientific findings, or other reputable sources that demonstrate that this program/project or item is relevant and needed in your community now. [You will include a Statement of Need in your grant proposal so this is not the place in your proposal where you should write a series of sentences about the need. In this section of the proposal you should only give a phrase in a sentence, or one sentence about need. Make sure that it is additional information to what you've written in your Statement of Need, and that it isn't repeated information. You want to maximize every word that you're allowed in the total word count limit.]

__ If your organization realized the need for the program/project or item that you're applying for a grant for, through strategic planning, a research study, or a professional investigation, etc. - have the findings report with you.

__ Any other pertinent information that is either the cause, a source, or informs the how, when, where, what, and why of what you are applying for a grant for.

The next step after you've compiled all of this information? Put all of this information into a file for this particular round of grant proposals and do not lose it. Place it where you can access it when you might need to, and where you're guaranteed to find it over and over again. Do not allow colleagues or others to take it. If they need the information that you've compiled, suggest that you make a copy for them to use.

The third step in writing this portion of your grant proposal is VERY important. All of your proposal content should be easy, quick, and extremely informative. Keep your sentences and paragraphs very informative but short. How? Write what you need the person who reads the proposal to know, and edit, re-edit, and edit some more. Take out what is truly and ultimately not crucial. Make it easy for the reader to get the meat or critical/important information. You will get the hang of this as you do it more and more. It is a skill, and one that we can all do. For more help with this method read my post, "Be Succinct In Your Grantwriting"

Now, sit down to write. Provide an EXTREMELY edited down, clear, almost bullet point (it can be a bullet point list in the final draft, sometimes, too) list, or shopping list, of all of the absolute points of the above documents and how they demonstrate what it is that requires the grant and the who, what, where, when, why, and how of it.

Your first stab at this section of the proposal may wind up creating four or five paragraphs. That's OK! Give yourself a break and then sit back down to re-read the source documents for their highlights, and then re-read what you wrote in your first draft. Cull the first draft down. Take out sentences that do not give information or details. They may seem really important at first glance, but for each sentence ask yourself 'is the information in this sentence providing data, history, resources, sources, etc?' If it isn't, take it out or just keep the key one or two words that do and connect that fragment to another sentence that is vital. Go back over the document in a few drafts of it. Give yourself some breaks, in between.

By the time that it is ready to be in the final draft, it should be no more than two paragraphs (depending on the amount of words allowed in the proposal, and what information the grant donor asks for. If they allow for a 20 page proposal, this section may be five paragraphs. If they only allow a two page proposal, it may only be four sentences). The paragraphs should be extremely informative in an easy to read and clear set of sentences.

You are now ready to move onto the next section of the grant proposal!


Malone! said...

I think this is what I need. Our small community in the foothills of Northern California has a volunteer run community swimming pool that is old and running out of money. Donations are drying up and we are in a critical need of financial aid. We don't receive tax money from the county, so I hope grant writing can help.

Arlene M. Spencer said...

From the sounds of it, going after grant support would be a great way to raise funds. Perhaps also raise local funds and support to demonstrate to potential grant donors that the local community is buying into the importance of the pool's refurbishment.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Good luck in your important work for the community!

daryl s said...

we are in the same boat but our community pool is private non profit. It is close to 100 years old and in dire need of repairs before it just falls apart. What can we do to obtain a grant to help refurbish this land mark.

Daryl S

Arlene M. Spencer said...

Dear Daryl S,
Read the following two posts. Read, "Some Free Resources" at:

In that post, be sure to read suggestion numbers: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10.

Also read, "Place, Resources, and Ways to Learn..." about raising grant money at:

I recommend, too, that you click on any of the Archives (to the left on this blog page) and read over the list of "tags" (the index of topics in this blog). We've written many posts, here, for the beginning grant writer (e.g. 'how to', 'where do I find', etc. type posts).

Good luck in protecting your historic community pool!