Contrary to what you might believe from those late night
commercials – getting a grant or scholarship is not easy! It
definitely can be done – but the process of finding the programs
that you actually qualify for is just the first step – the most
difficult part and where most people fail, is the Grant Application
Every day, dozens or more grant applications hit the desk of
every grant funding reviewer, and the vast majority will never
even make it to the final review process. After quickly scanning
each application, the vast majority of them will get moved to the
"does not meet funding requirements" folder.
Are the grant reviewers being cold and heartless? No, not at all.
In fact, most of the applications are heart wrenching tales of
people who truly need the money – the problem is that they are
not applying for the right grant.
For more information check out www.GrantsNow400.com
You see, every grant funding entity, whether it is a government
or private sector grantor, has certain guidelines and protocols
that MUST be met before an application can even be considered
for the grant funding to be awarded.
Every grantor will specify terms & conditions for their particular
funding programs. Grantees are responsible for reading these
terms and conditions and making sure that their project meets
Unfortunately, many people seeking grants or financial aid either
don’t read them fully – or simply ignore them in the hopes that
their grant application will somehow still be approved, perhaps
by a ‘kind hearted’ grant application reviewer.
The sad part is that these applicants are no doubt sitting and
waiting for their grant application to be reviewed and approved –
frustrated when they don't get their money.
The next problem that I encounter is the description of the
applicant's business proposal. The application asks for a detailed
description of the applicant's business, and how the money will
be used. "I don't know what I am going to do but I know that if I
had the money I would be able to start a business" shows up
more times than you would believe.
Want to guess where these applications wind up? You guessed it
– they certainly don't get moved on to the 'finalists' round.
Finding the right grant is only the first step in the process. The
second part is the killer and where most grant seekers fail.
Here are a few tips for writing your grant proposal:
1. First do your homework!
Before you start the grant application or grant proposal – make
sure you know all that you need to know about the Grantor. Read
the grant requirements THOROUGHLY – make sure you
understand it completely. If you have any questions about it –
contact the Grantor directly for clarification, rather than making a
guess. If possible, speak to someone involved in the review
process by phone or in person, rather than by email to avoid any
misunderstanding of the guidelines.
Additionally, do some research into the Grantor itself: what
programs or businesses have received grants in the past? Has
there been any change in the Grantor’s focus over time? Or since
the last grant award? How often do they award grants? What has
the average size of a grant award been? After you know as much
as you can about the Grantor – reassess your own project, and
make sure that it fits with what you have learned about the
Grantor’s funding scope.
2. Make sure you have everything you need for the grant
Every grant package is different: some Grantors want just their
own application completed for the initial review, others will
require a full package which may include a complete business
plan, a detailed budget showing how the grant funds are to be
used, an executive summary and full resumes of the upper level
management staff/owners of the business or project…and more.
If the Grantor asks for these items – you MUST include them all.
To only send a partial list of the items required will automatically
3. Does your proposal flow smoothly from the first page to
the last page?
Since you rarely get to present your proposal in person – your
written word must ‘speak’ for you. It needs to be as clear and
precise as possible. To accomplish this, start with an outline that
simply lists each step of your plan, then go back and expand
each point as needed to fully clarify your project. Then, have
someone outside your project read your proposal, to see if they
can understand your objective. By doing this, you can help to
identify any areas that may need further clarification.
4. Write your proposal as though the reviewer is NOT an
expert in your field.
This is very important and can be a bit tricky to accomplish. You
don’t want to ‘speak’ down to the Grantor – but at the same time
you do not want to assume that the person or persons that will
be reviewing your grant application are as knowledgeable about
your project as you are! Obviously, you understand your
business or concept inside out – but you have to assume the
person reading your application won’t have this depth of
knowledge, so it is crucial that you explain your idea clearly and
in detail. Then – and this is very important! – have at two or more
people OUTSIDE of your project review your grant package.
It’s important that someone from outside your organization can
understand your project’s goals and objectives, because this is
exactly what your package will be trying to explain to the
Grantor’s funding committee! And they will never fund what they
5. Your budget should be based on actual expenses rather
than ‘rough estimates’. Taking the time to research and
evaluate the actual expenses will result in a more accurate
budget for the Grantor to evaluate. Guesses just won't make it in
your grant proposal. List exactly what your staffing expenses will
be, by position, and the type of office printer and computer you
plan to purchase. Do the research, , then spell it out in the
proposal exactly! If a grant reviewer thinks that your budget is
way off the mark – you just lost the grant.
6. Show the Grantor that you take the application process
seriously. Carefully proof everything for spelling, typing and
grammatical errors. Don’t rely on spellcheck. Double check the
math in your budget. Let others proofread everything as well –
and then read it again yourself to make sure! You cannot
overdo this step!
7. Make sure that your goals and objectives are clearly laid
out and specific. Don’t make general statements such as "We
are seeking this grant so that we can help our neighborhood".
The Grantor wants to know specifically how the grant is to be
used. "This grant will allow us to open an after school program
that will directly impact the neighborhood by providing a safe
after school environment for 25 children, ages 5 through 8." This
is a direct statement of your goal, and how will affect your
community, and this is what the Grantor wants to see.
8. Take your time! A well planned grant package takes time to
research and assemble. If you really want a chance at the grant –
then you need to allow yourself the the time to put it together
the right way. Shortcuts and hasty packaging show – and will
affect the opinion of the Grantor’s review committee.
9. Follow the submission requirements EXACTLY!
First of all make a full copy of the package for your own files. If
the grant guideline states that the grant MUST be submitted via
an online form – don't even bother to ask if you can fax it in.
Likewise, if the grant package must be mailed – then that is how
you must submit the package. IMPORTANT: Make sure that your
submission reaches the Grantor by the deadline date. When
mailing your grant submission, it is always a good idea to request
a signed receipt, so that you know that it was received, the date
and who signed for it.
10. Follow up….
About a week after submission, it is usually a good idea to call to
make sure it arrived and that the package is complete. This is
also a great chance to talk a bit with the grantor.
If there are any changes in your situation – especially something
that is of the good news variety (a new contract or client that
you have landed, a breakthrough in your new technology, etc),
send them an update, along with any press clippings you might
have about the event.
Last but not least, patience, Grasshopper, patience! The grant
process can be a very long one, but it can also be very
Grants are hard to find and competitive – so put together the
very best proposal possible and prove that you are the one that
should get the money!
For more information go to www.GrantsNow400.com