12 Ways to Make Your Grant Proposals Sing
The world of grant and tender writing can be obscure, tortuous, or just plain frustrating! Smoke and Mirrors, Luck and Connections, and while you’re at it – don’t forget the Strategic Plan!
Here are a few tips to help you along. If you need more, please get in touch…
- Be up-to-date with the grants that are available in your area – or get to know someone who is and buy them a coffee. I like mine strong and black thanks! 🙂
- Figure if and why you need the grant and bear in mind that a funding body won’t pay for core activities or wages (most of the time). Read the guidelines, and make sure you understand them, particularly what they won’t fund!
- This is going to take time, which means it is going to cost you and your business money – are you going to get bang for the buck? What was the success rate last time this grant appeared? Are you better off hiring a grant writer? Give me a call, or message me on Facebook.
- Give the funding body a call, have a chat but remember to follow up with an email to get them to put the advice on paper. If you get a junior or a newbie they may not have the full story, and you could be lead merrily up the garden path. So, politely but, firmly, make sure you get to talk with someone who knows all about the grant. Face to face is best. Read the guidelines, and make sure you understand them. I have said that twice now! :). The earlier you develop a good relationship with folk in the funding body the better. They are just people after all.
- Read the funding body’s current strategic plan, alongside the guidelines. I’ll repeat that – read the funding body’s strategic plan! What are their long-term plans? Where does your project fit in? Pick out the buzz words, use the same phrasing. Some funding organisations send applications through software so you’ll need to be on the ball just to get through Stage 1
- Drum up support (i.e. get support letters) but remember, this is a competitive and sometimes cut-throat process so be careful who you tell. That said, spread the support-net wide – potential competitors might be happy to collaborate; talk to councils, NGO’s, peak industry bodies and have a cup of tea with local State and Federal MP’s. This is what they are there for – you pay their wages, don’t forget! Don’t be afraid – they are usually pretty approachable. Look for political big-hitters inter-State as well, Funding bodies love to see collaboration. Get letters from all of them. I generally draft a letter and send it to them to tweak and sign. Saves time, and works well – shows you are organised.
- Get some numbers (statistics) to back up your proposal and find some hooks, something innovative. Brain dump – get all your collaborators around the table and mind-map (on a whiteboard). I know – whiteboard! But seriously, it works. Make sure that the principal of the company knows and agrees to all the stuff, especially promises of cash or in-kind. Get the coffee going and some sweet biscuits so people are caffeinated and sugared up, make sure the AV and the aircon work, and don’t do it on Monday or a Friday.
- Don’t be afraid to use emotive language. People are going to read your words – Mums, Dads, Brothers, Sisters. Talk to them; tell them a story. Use active sentences.
- Circulate the draft for review. Include someone unconnected to your organisation. Drop me a line! Run your proposal past the same crew you had around the table in Point 4- this time they will have the guidelines in front of them and should be trying to tear it apart. A word of warning – leave yourself plenty of time. Talk with the funding on any sticking points.
- Make sure all your ‘t’s’ are dotted and your ‘i’s’ are crossed! 🙂 Your application should flow well, clearly putting forward your proposal, and addressing all the guidelines. There should also be no spelling or grammatical errors. Contact me for help here.
- Pay careful attention to the closing date and time, and the timezone! Don’t leave it too late. A week out is cutting it a bit fine but it can be done successfully if you have your project idea, team, templates and contacts ready to go. Submitting at 4:55 is not the best strategy, although often the case, despite the best of good intentions!
- Before you submit make sure you have all your documents are ready to go. Often the funding body will supply a checklist, but if not, read and mark what you need, and make sure you have everything they asked for, and in the form they need.