If you have plans of writing a grant proposal, then you have valuable research to undertake. It could be that a nonprofit wants to build a community resource they are passionate about developing. Having to write a grant proposal indicates that you have a vision for something and it could be improved or advanced through funding. Students who are seeking funding for their postgraduate studies need to know how to write a grant proposal. The idea of writing this proposal is to help the vision to become a reality. As such, one should think of the best way to engage in grant proposal writing because it is an act or imagination.
Types of grant proposals
The prospect of writing a grant proposal might feel daunted, but it is not as bad as you think. It is because proposals are not the same. A grant proposal does not have to be a big multipage document. As such, there are several types of grant proposals. The one that you choose is determined by the funder organisation you are addressing as well as your ultimate goal. Each of these grants proposals varies in length and substance. You have to consider how where you are sending your proposal, what you are requesting through your proposal and how the funder organisation prefers you to ask. Here are the types of the grant proposals.
Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
This proposal addresses a foundation. The aim is to pique the funder’s interest in your project. You can choose several letters of inquiry to some foundations to see if your projects align with any of them. Letter of Inquiry in most cases does not go beyond three pages, which summarise your project. It is a taste of what you are planning. With the Letter of Inquiry, you and the funder try to find out if whether or not your idea sparks any interest. If it is, then you have the green light to move on to the full proposal.
Letter of Inquiry has become the preference of many foundations as the first step towards funding. It gives them a quick assessment to see if your project fits them. If it does not fit them, you have to move on. This letter can be a way to put your idea to test. Most foundations will include their preferences for a letter of inquiry or a proposal in their guidelines, which are found on their website. They are also part of the request for proposals to which you will be responding.
In any letter of inquiry, you have to describe the need, outline the plan to meet it and show how the project aligns with the priorities of the funder.
This is what comes to mind when you think of a grant proposal. It has a standard format that includes a cover letter, project summary, and the amount of money you need for your project. They can go up to 25 pages. It is important that you follow the guidelines provided by the funder on how they want the proposal set up. You need to be attentive to your cover letter, which is a mini-pitch of its own.
Most of the funders prefer the online application mode for those who want to submit their proposals. Special consideration is given to online applications, and so you have to ensure that you understand how online submission works. Take your time to write each section offline first and check your work before you click the submit button. It shows them you know how to write a grant proposal.
Corporations prefer a grant proposal as opposed to a long formal proposal. You can write to a corporate foundation requesting for a monetary gift or pitching a sponsorship or course marketing program to the marketing or advertising department of a specific corporation. This letter does not exceed four pages. It should describe your project, explain your organisation and include the actual monetary request or set out your sponsorship proposal.
Although the letter proposal seems easy, it can be tricky especially when you are stating your case in a succinct and brief format. Do not confuse the letter proposal for the letter of inquiry. In the letter proposal, you are requesting funds, whereas in the letter of inquiry you are pitching your idea to the funder to see if they are interested in your project.
How to write your grant proposal
Proposal writing takes time. You have to describe a specific problem existing within your community or area of interest. You then design a program that is going to solve this problem and describe the program in detail for the funder. If this is your first time applying for a grant, and you know how to write a grant proposal, the whole process will benefit the organisation. The idea is to come up with a well-thought proposal that outlines the strategy used to address the problem as well as the funding to facilitate it.
Agree on the problem
If you want to win funding for your project, the funder must be convinced that your program will have the positive and measurable effect on the community. Identify the need that is going to be improved or changed with the grant money. There may be a problem, but the community has to agree on the need for your project.
Involve the stakeholders. These are the people who are affected by the problem, or they have an interest in the project. They can include people from the community affected by the problem and those responsible for the problem. Involve the organisations, which you have collaborated with, and you can consider forming new relationships with like-minded organisations and groups. Plan a meeting with all stakeholders at a convenient and acceptable pace.
Involve them in developing a clear, concise description of the problem or the situations. Several meeting is necessary to arrive at an informed consensus. In your description of the problem, do not use words like ‘ugly’ or ‘outrageous’.
Discuss the impact of the problem using the same clear and objective language to describe the impact. It should have social and economic costs.
Discuss possible causes of the problem even if they appear obvious to you. You have to seek formal agreement from many stakeholders. When describing the problem avoid technical terms and jargon and use the layman’s language. Every stakeholder should understand what is being said.
Describe your ultimate goal
Focus on the solution or the desired outcome of your proposed activity. Tell them what will happen once the project takes place. Show them how the situation improves.
Be careful when you are talking about measuring success in outputs. When you talk about outputs, they are measures of the program’s activities, and outcomes are a measure of change that comes from the activities. Outputs lead to outcomes
You have to set realistic and achievable outcomes. If you do not meet the goals of your project, it will be hard for you to get additional funding. It would be better if you promised less and exceeded your goals than over-promising and under-deliver. However, do not promise too little as that would make the project seem too cost effective.
Measure and record the result of the work. State the measurement that you want to achieve and show when you are going to achieve them. If an output is not countable or measurable, then do not include it.
Focus on the ultimate result. You should always have your goals in mind. Evaluate every activity and how it helps in achieving the ultimate goal.
Design your program
You can get expert opinions on your grant proposal especially because grantmakers in both governmental and private sector have experts staff that can help. When you contact them, explain why you might be seeking funding from them, but for now, you are seeking their expertise.
You can research what others have done in projects that are similar to yours. You will know what works and does not work, especially if you have mastered how to write a grant proposal.
Let all the stakeholders agree on the plan. Describe your solution stating who will do what.
Locate funding sources
You can start with organisations or people you know. This makes your search targeted. The people and organisations you know can help you with contacts of funded organisations. Arrange for a meeting a meeting and pitch your idea.
You can also use the internet to research for funders. Ask the right questions when you are reviewing your funder. Establish a relationship with them.
Write your proposal
Follow the instructions. If you have been requested for a ten-page grant proposal, stick to it. Study their criteria and use a checklist to ascertain the completeness of your application. If you miss some items, your proposal faces the risk of rejection. This checklist can be used as a table of contents for your proposal.
Edit your grant proposal carefully to make sure it is clear and easy to understand. Give it to another person for a review and make the necessary changes.
Ensure that you meet the deadlines since most grant programs operate within a timeline. If you miss one, then you lose your chance of getting a grant. So be ready to know how to write a grant proposal starting now.