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Diana Bowman


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Title: Diana Bowman

Making Grant Proposals Competitive NAEHCY 2010
  • Diana Bowman Mike Howard
  • Dee Dee Wright Tricia Fries

  • Provide guidance in developing strong proposals
    for small grants from community, nonprofit, or
    corporate funders.

Road Map for Today
  • Is your idea fundable?
  • Understanding funder priorities
  • Analyzing the solicitation
  • Describing a strong approach
  • Is your proposal fundable?
  • Crafting a readable proposal
  • Putting yourself in the shoes of a reviewer
  • Tips for local school districts seeking funding

Key Point 1
  • Most funding sources do not consider themselves
    as charities handing out money for worthy
  • Rather, they consider awarding a grant as an
    investment in an idea that is likely to achieve
    tangible results in an area they consider

Your Proposals Job is to Assure the funder that
  • You understand their interests and priorities
  • Their money will meet a real need related to
    their interests and priorities
  • You are experienced, credible, and can do what
    you say youll do
  • You have a clear focus on results they will get
    bang for their bucks
  • You are fiscally responsible their money will be
    spent well

Analyzing the solicitation Go or No Go?
  • What green lights or red flags did you see in
    the solicitation?
  • Funding focus and priorities
  • Eligible applicants, eligibility criteria
  • Allowable/unallowable uses of funds
  • Application process

Should you apply?
  • Is your agency eligible?
  • Will a grant that aligns with their funding
    priorities meet your needs?
  • Can you meet the requirements of the application,
    e.g., a funding match, volunteers?
  • Will you have sufficient support to manage the
  • Beware of Mission Creep!

Developing a Strong Idea
  • A fundable idea
  • Addresses one or more priorities of the funder
  • Addresses a significant, clearly-identified need
    or problem
  • Is focused on the results and benefits to be
    achieved, not on the activities to be done
  • Has a detailed, specific plan
  • Includes ways to measure success
  • Has clear and logical alignment of
  • all of the above

Articulating the Need
  • Problem statement that relates to funder
  • Based on data, not rhetoric focus on local data
  • Visual and understandable (tables, graphs,
  • Include only whats most important avoid data
  • Show the gap between what is what should be
  • Provide context
  • Describe challenges, but be positive about
  • Only discuss needs that your project will
    actually do something to address.

Project Objectives
  • Results that beneficiaries will exhibit, not
    activities that the project will carry out
  • Clearly connected to the needs by meeting its
    objectives, the project will reduce the gap
    described between what is and what should be
  • Concrete, realistic, achievable
  • Can be measured credibly and reliably

Identify the Appropriate Objective Statement(s)
  • Objective 1 Set up three computers with reading
    and math tutoring software at the Pathways
    Shelter for middle school students.
  • Objective 2 Ninety percent of the middle school
    students who participate will demon-strate
    increased achievement in reading and mathematics.
  • Objective 3 Increase the number of
    participat-ing middle school students who go on
    to enroll in advanced mathematics courses in high

Project Activities
  • Focus on obtaining the results stated in the
    project objectives
  • Specific plan who, what, when, where. Can the
    funder tell how the money will be used?
  • Project management, personnel, and partners. Does
    the project have the capacity (experience,
    expertise, time commitment) to execute its plan
    in a quality manner?

Logic Map Thinking
For information on logic models, download the
Logic Model Development Guide from W.K. Kellogg
Foundation, www.wkkf.org
Project evaluation
  • How will you know if your activities are having
    the desired results, if you are making the
    expected progress?
  • Directly linked to project objectives
    evaluation is the measurement of the results
    listed in the objectives.
  • Describe what data will be collected, when, and
    who will do it.
  • What data will be used to keep the project
    on-track (formative evaluation)?

  • Itemized, detailed budget (including explana-tion
    of how calculated figures were obtained)
  • All budget items are explicitly connected to
    project activities
  • All expenses are allowable in the funding
  • Costs are reasonable no padding
  • Include and explain any other support for the
    project (in-kind or matching funds)

Key Point 2
  • A principal mark of a fundable idea is its
    alignment. All components that will go into the
  • funder priorities
  • identification of local need
  • project objectives
  • project activities
  • evaluation
  • budget
  • are connected in a clear and logical manner.

Writing the Proposal
  • Its all about communication
  • Describing your approach clearly and concretely
  • Making your proposal readable

Writing the Proposal
  • Its all about persuasion
  • Your outcomes are the funders outcomes your
    agency is committed and excited about achieving
    them your proposal should have SPARK!
  • Your program is well-conceived, doable, and
    will achieve the expected results.
  • Your staff has excellent qualifications and
    will get the job done efficiently and
  • The funds will be managed carefully and used
  • Your task is to give the funder confidence that
    their investment in your idea is a wise one that
    is likely to pay off in important ways.

Writing the Proposal
  • Its all about the reviewers
  • Recognizing their challenges
  • Making sure they understand
  • Making their job easier (or at least not ticking
    them off)

Key Point 3
  • A grant proposal is not meant to be great
    literature. Its purpose is twofold to
    communicate your idea clearly and concisely and
    to persuade the funder to invest in your idea.
  • The proposal should be written with the reviewer
    in mind, doing everything possible to help the
    review process go smoothly and efficiently.

Helping the Reviewers Understand Your Idea
  • Keep language simple and direct reviewers wont
    take time to figure out what youre trying to say
  • Avoid jargon explain all terms and abbreviations
    someone outside of your field may not know
  • Include tables, diagrams, etc. to help convey
    information visually
  • Include all critical information in the proposal
    dont assume they will look at appendices

Making the Reviewers Job Easier
  • Follow the organization given in the guidelines
  • Use section headers and summaries to keep the
    reader focused and aid navigation
  • If guidelines discuss specific criteria that
    reviewers will rate in each section, be sure
    those things are easy to locate.
  • Use 10 pt font size or (preferably) greater use
    white space for visual comfort
  • In longer proposals, include a table of contents,
    showing where major sections are located

Write well
  • Review all page and formatting requirements and
    stick to them
  • Check for grammatical or spelling errors
  • Review for accuracy of data numbers, figures,
  • Use short, direct sentences active voice
  • Avoid sentimentality, dramatic pleas, grandiose
    claims, vague generalizations

It Matters How You Say It
  • Subtext The intangible impression that the
    reader gets, based on how you write.

Subtext Do they know what theyre doing?
  • We have thought through the activities, made sure
    they are aligned with the needs and objectives,
    and know what will be done each step of the
  • VS.
  • Some of the details are fuzzy, but flexibility
    is a good thing. Trust us, we know what were
    doing and everything will fall into place.

Subtext How confident are they in their idea?
  • We know our field the research, what has worked
    in other places, what needs to be tweaked for
    our local context. We know the activities will
    yield important results that address the needs
    weve targeted.
  • VS.
  • We hope that doing these activities will do some
    good, but were not sure. Anyway, our needs are
    so great that this is just a drop in the bucket.

Subtext Do they really want to work with us?
  • We are excited about your grant opportunity and
    feel our idea really matches your interests. We
    have studied the solicitation and are making sure
    to provide the information requested in the
    proper format.
  • VS.
  • This is the fifth time Ive tried to get this
    idea funded, and Im not wasting time writing a
    new version heres a rehashed version of the
    proposal Ive sent to others.

Beware of Red Flag Phrases
  • It is clear that . . .
  • Research has proven that . . .
  • We hope that . . .
  • We will make every effort to . . .
  • Specific planning for Year 2 will take place as
    we analyze lessons learned in Year 1 . . .
  • TBD (to be determined)
  • . . . pending administrative approval . . .

Dealing with rejection
  • Dont take it personally
  • Send a thank you note anyway
  • Request reviewer comments
  • Ask funding official for suggestions
  • Make improvements and try again, with the same or
    different funder
  • Its always a learning experience!

  • Diana Bowman, NCHE, Greensboro (NC),
  • Michael Howard, Educational Consultant,
    Greensboro (NC), michaelnhoward_at_earthlink.net
  • Tricia Fries, Project Connect, Cincinnati (OH),
  • Dee Dee Wright, HEARTH Specialist , Polk Co.
    (FL), deedee.wright_at_polk-fl.net
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