Grants. Free money from the government– a dream come true. If only it were that easy. The key to obtaining a grant is convincing those in charge of the funds of the worthiness of your venture.
A grant is a sum of money set aside by the government, local authority or some other public fund to finance a particular outcome–generally for research or educational purposes. Grants are a great way to finance a small business. Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to come by. Grant eligibility requires more than just a good cause. Receiving a grant requires preparing a grant proposal that details how the money will be spent, what the project is, and how the goals will be achieved.
The first step in writing a grant proposal is to get a copy of the guidelines from the funder. Guidelines generally include required formatting, deadlines, eligibility and criteria as well as budget. They often contain important contact information as well. No matter how many times you have filled out a grant application, don’t assume that all grant proposals are the same. Most importantly, you need to investigate relentlessly what results or outcome the funder is seeking so you can outline your grant proposal to convince the funders that you are the best one to meet those needs.
Once you are clear on the format and objectives, the next step should be clearly stating what the project is and what the goals are. Grant proposals are similar to cover letters for a resume and the same rules apply here. If the funder has objectives, explain how this project can work to fulfill them. Address all of the requirements in the proposal guidelines. This may include letters of recommendation.
Panel members reviewing grants are likely to receive hundreds of proposals so make sure that yours stands out. As in any good writing, be sure to grab the reader’s attention immediately with compelling copy that outlines important statistics or facts relevant to your project. If you aren’t a strong writer and can’t get your ideas across in a compelling way, consider working directly with a professional writer who can transform your ideas into compelling copy.
Are You the Best Candidate?
It is important to keep in mind that in most cases you are competing for funds so you must be able to demonstrate why your proposal is the more important. Be sure you outline a problem that your idea is going to solve. Add the relevant details about literal steps you will take to solve the problem and how you intend to meet with success. If the idea is based on a proven model, give the example and explain how you will improve upon it or why your idea is unique. Give examples of previous successes where applicable.
Have You Proofread That Yet?
Once completed, proofread. Then pass along to as many other sets of eyes as you can. Ask them to not only proofread for grammatical errors, but to give input as well. Is your message clear? Do those that read your proposal understand what it is you are asking for and why it is important? In similar value to cover letters, there is no excuse for any errors, especially when asking for free money. When it comes to grant writing remember the old adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
If grant contact information is publicly available, contact the individual(s) in question and network. Get to know everyone who will make the decision on whether or not to grant the money. Speaking face to face will generally reveal individual project objectives that may not have been clear in the guidelines. Be prepared to discuss the project and ask about successful proposals.