Grant Writing can often seem daunting given the varying and specific requirements for individual grants. However, gathering necessary information and adequate preparation ahead of time can make the actual task of writing the application an achievable process.
Before composing the grant, grant writers must have the following information defined:
Knowing the background and mission of the funding agency is absolutely critical when determining whether to apply for an individual grant. Often funding agencies will offer a mission statement that defines the goals and needs of that agency. For example, The Arts Council of Brazos Valley writes that “the vision established by The Arts Council Board of Directors is focused on providing leadership by maintaining and strengthening an arts and culture–friendly community, making the quality of life in the Brazos Valley the best that the state has to offer.” While some mission statements are more broadly defined, others will limit their missions to a specific focus or aim. If your organization or proposal idea cannot be encompassed within this mission, there is a limited likelihood for the success of your application.
It is also helpful to know what groups and organizations the funding agency has given grants to previously to ensure that your group possesses similar goals. You should also be able to clearly define and make connections between the mission of the funding agency and the mission of your organization. To be successful, your proposal idea must relate to and aid the funding agency’s overall mission.
What needs does your organization currently have? What do you hope to accomplish with additional assistance? Having the specific set of goals outlined for your organization will allow you to clearly articulate how extra assistance is both needed and critical for solving the current problems for your organization. If the goals of your organization include creating a community event, for example, you must be able to show how your idea for the event is both unique and of interest to the funding agency, and also how funding this event will help to solve some of the obstacles faced by your organization.
Grant applications typically have very specific instructions in regards to format and content that you must adhere to. However, if you have questions after reviewing the grant and developing your idea, create a list and contact someone from the grant agency or funder. Some grants had a person of contact listed for questions, while others will allow general inquiries via phone call and email. Regardless, contacting the grant funder is your best resource to get the best information on how to complete the grant. Usually, this contact is more than willing to clear up ambiguities, so that your organization is putting its best foot forward on the application. Prior to your phone call, make sure to do your background research on the funding organization to ensure that you are asking the right kind of questions.
Although grant applications usually have specific criteria and questions that are tailored to that individual grant, most grant applications have similar components. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you must give yourself plenty of time to answer each question fully, completely, and with clarity.
Here is a partial list of some of the most common grant sections with some tips and suggestions on how to answer each part:
Overview – The overview section is typically the most important part of your grant application. It should answer the who, what, and why you are applying to that funder. In other words, this section should answer the “who are you?” and “why should we care?” type of questions. After reading this section, the grant funder should not only feel interested in your organization, but they should feel compelled to fund.
One paragraph should address the background and history of your organization, but should begin to establish and identify a sense of need. After reading this paragraph, your audience should have a clear sense of who your organization is. More importantly, they should feel excited about knowing who you are.
Another paragraph should reference the long terms of goals of your organization. In this section, outline the mission of your organization and make strong connections to the mission of your funder.
Another paragraph should frame the problems for your organization. The funding organization should know that something important is needed and that a solution exists i.e. having more funding.
Your concluding paragraph should inform your audience on how funding your organization will benefit their mission and their organization overall. In other words, what will the funder receive as intrinsic benefit for funding your organization? What will be the larger outcome and significance for funding this proposal?
While this section is typically the most difficult, the rest of the application is relatively easy. Nonetheless, take your time with this section of your proposal. Make sure this section reads clearly and has a strong organizational flow.
Budget – Most grant applications require that you include your organization’s budget for a typical year. It should outline how your organization spends its current funding, including projects and plans you usually encounter.
Plan of Action – If your organization receives funding, what are your plans for the additional budget? Are you planning an event or a program? Will this program require outside speakers? Every detail from beginning to end should be outlined and projected here. The funding organization will want to know every component to how their funding will be spent, and more so, that it will be spent in a worthwhile manner.
In sum, if there are pieces of criteria to your grant application, make sure to answer those sections in a way that sells your organization.
Before submitting your grant for pre-approval from the grant contact for or simply for final submission, take the time to ensure you’ve answered each section fully and completely. If accessible, review successfully awarded grant submissions and look for suggestions on how to complete your application.
Grammar, syntax, and mechanics are particularly important for grant applications. It is suggested that you review or use the following resources prior to submittal. A great trick is to read a print copy of your grant out loud. Reading aloud forces you to hear your mistakes but also provides clues towards creating cohesive organization.
Finally, make an appointment at the University Writing Center! The writing center is a resource to assist all Texas A&M students with their writing and speaking skills. We make for great audience members for your work and are trained to be an objective and knowledgeable pair of eyes. Information on how to make an appointment can be found on our website: http://writingcenter.tamu.edu