By James V. D’Ambrosio

Last month I wrote about the importance of knowing what to do after receiving a grant. It’s equally important to consider the beginning of the process: what to consider before writing and submitting a grant proposal.

Since the grant-writing process is multifaceted and involves some complexity, taking time to think through the process can increase the  chances for winning a grant and avoid wasting time chasing inappropriate opportunities. Below are some important considerations:  


Organizational Capacity: If the grant is awarded, does your organization have the proper staffing, space and resources to carry it out? If you’re unsure, speak with the executive director and/or program staff involved to find out. Nothing is worse than spending a great deal of time and effort winning a grant only to learn that your agency is not equipped to implement it. Ouch!

Think About Objectives/Fit: There must be a match between what you seek to accomplish and what the funding agency will actually fund. Review their Web site for examples of other projects they have funded. Carefully research — and choose — your targets. Better to have five (5) solid targets than 15 questionable ones.   

Ensure Eligibility: Check  if your agency is eligible for the award. Call the funder and speak with the program officer, briefly explaining your agency’s mission/focus, and what you’re looking to do. 

Reviewing Guidelines: Who will review your proposal — One person? A panel of experts? In-house staff? Knowing this can help shape your approach. If it isn’t stated in the application, call and find out.

Financial Management: If you’re the project director, are you qualified to disburse funds? If not, find someone who is and list them on the grant application.

Format: Does the funder prefer electronic or hard-copy submission?

♦ Endorsement: Who is required to endorse the application — CEO/executive director, lawyer, project director?

Award Range: Find out the average award for each funder you are applying to — is it $25,000? $50,000? $100,000? This will ensure you ask for an appropriate amount. Keep in mind that a recessionary economy often means a smaller award.

To be sure, there are many variables involved in grant-writing and no easy way to win an award, especially in today’s competitive climate. Considering the above can help to focus your efforts and increase your chances for success.


QUESTION TO READERS: What else do you think is important to consider before writing and submitting a proposal?

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