5 simple steps Grant reviews
Writing a Federal Grant proposal can seem daunting at first, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the requirements that are in place. So we decided to sit down with Stephanie Richards, a grant reviewer of many years for federal, state, and municipal funding levels. Stephanie was willing to share some simple mistakes to avoid when preparing grant proposals. She begins her interview with encouragement.
“There is funding available to anyone who needs it, whether it’s a nonprofit, LLC, or private company. A Federal Grant may be a viable funding source if you have a community-driven idea worth executing with excellence. The key to success is writing a great application, and here are five simple mistakes to avoid when writing your proposal.”
1. Grant Funding Announcements are vital to the process.
Each funding announcement is clear on what information you are required to provide. Each question in every section accrues points based on the provision of the answer. The goal is to receive as many points as possible by completing the questions in each section as directions request. Responses to each section should be specific without extensive details. For example, if the grant asks about the work hours, break it down by days and hours; this will help you garner more points than just saying, “full time, part-time and seasonal hours.”
It may seem like some sections are repetitive; however, each question is strategic at extracting as much information as possible. Therefore, be sure not to skip any questions and complete each section of the application in order. Without this, you may lose out on some valuable points.
3. Requesting funding is a competitive process. You must provide proof of your ability to fulfill the obligations associated with the program. If you are outsourcing services to a third party, ensure that you have the relevant Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place. The MOU demonstrates that the groundwork is in place, and you can perform the activities included in your application. Many organizations are applying for the same grant; some are detailing the full extent of their work, while others are looking for start-up capital. Make sure your intent is evident with the grant funds’ appropriation and prove that you can accomplish the task.
4. Grant reviewers have a great deal to review in each application, and they are inclined to receive lengthy stories to cover up insufficiency. While the stories may be compelling, they will not sway the reviewer to award extra points. As a result, the reviewers tend to ignore the stories. The key objective of a grant review is to evaluate the application, ensuring that it is technically and financially sound.
Each grant application has sections on budget and sustainability. The budget requires you to be as specific as possible and often involves a line item budget. Make sure that the financials are accurate. Your budget is an opportunity to demonstrate that you have control of your finances and a realistic understanding of how your program will run. When preparing your budget, break it down as much as possible, itemizing every expense. Some grants may require you to demonstrate how your project will be sustainable, whether through an ongoing fundraiser or the information in your sustainability plan. For example, if you are requesting $10,000 to fund a project, be sure to include how you will continue to
raise those funds in the years to come if the grant award ceases. Funders want to know that the projects are sustainable over long periods before awarding funds.
Federal grants are a great way to fund your organization, company, or even personal needs. However, each announcement has its own unique set of requirements, and you must understand them thoroughly before you start preparing your application. And if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting funded!