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Sharpen Your Grant Proposals
Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on even the most seasoned grant writer. When that happens, it’s easy to lose focus and simply write to get the proposal completed. When the clock is ticking, develop a winning grant proposal with these five strategies:
- Focus on your mission. Before you start writing a grant proposal, consider how the funding will support your mission. Begin by understanding the funder’s focus areas and priorities. Do they align with your mission? Do they fit your organization’s strategic plan or do they take you in a different direction? Once you have determined that the funding is a good fit, use your mission statement as a framework for your proposal. Help the funder understand the importance of your mission, how the proposed funding will help further your mission, and how your mission aligns with the funder’s priorities. This creates a win-win situation.
- Consider the big picture. For the sake of organization, most grant proposals are divided into sections, often with specific questions. Don’t fall into the trap of answering each question in isolation without giving the reviewer a complete picture of what you are proposing. Develop a case statement to ensure that you tell your entire story.
- Include details. Details help to make a program real and show that you have thought through what you need to do to make the program a reality. If you are facing tight space limitations, look for sweeping statements and replace them with details whenever possible. You can often include additional detail in attachments that may not be counted against page requirements. The more a reviewer understands your program, the greater chance you have of receiving the requested funding.
- Make a strong case in the executive summary. The executive summary should always be written last, once your proposal is fully formulated. This is the “hook” and should be written so that it can stand on its own merits. Begin with a strong opening statement that helps the reviewer understand how your proposal fits the funder’s priorities. Make a strong case for the need you address.
- Pay attention to attachments. In the frenzy of a deadline, it’s easy to overlook the importance of attachments. They often are an opportunity, however, to provide greater detail to the reviewer. For example, a timeline can explain a great deal about how you will develop and operate a program. Resumes can indicate the caliber of your staff. A word of caution. Sometimes attachments are not included as part of the initial review. In that case, all critical details must be included in the narrative.