Writing Your First Grant

Tamara Sabine

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and write a grant for money to support your program. This is an exciting time – but you’re probably feeling a bit apprehensive, right? Don’t worry, once you’re organized, you’ll see that preparing your grant won’t be as difficult as you may think.

Preparing (and winning) grant proposals is not just about writing – it’s a two-step process of 1) Planning and Gathering information and 2) Writing and Submitting the proposal. The planning and gathering step is the most critical step in the process, and without it, the step of writing and submitting could fail.

I recommend starting by thinking about the basics of your program. I’ve prepared a mind map that should help you remember the questions you need to ask, as well as assist you in preparing the project narrative and it can be found here.

 Step 1: Planning & Gathering Information

Funders are going to request a lot of information about your project, and you must be prepared to respond. Question one on the mind map, what does the project look like, will help you answer the basic questions about your project and put those answers on paper. If you are like most people, everything about the project that you are most intimately familiar with isn’t written down – it’s all in your head, or you have just a few checklists that you work through every year. Do a brain dump, think about the project and write it all down. And for the items you need money for (supplies, equipment, etc.) do an internet search for the costs, or use information from previous year’s costs.

Now, question two is really important. WHY are we doing this project? This is the purpose that will drive a great deal of the process. While it’s not imperative that the reason be a heart-wrenching one to get funded, you must be able to share with the funder a clear objective.

As you answer these questions, it may trigger you to find various documents related to the project. For example, an up-to-date resume or curriculum vita for you and others working on the project, newspaper or newsletter articles about the project, and letters of support from community partners. Don’t stop to go and find the documents – just make a list of the items you’ll need to find or create.

Also part of this step is researching what funders might be interested in supporting your project. There are various types, local donors/individuals, community foundations, corporate foundations, local, state or federal government agencies. Each donor has different funding priorities, application/proposal processes and overall requirements and it’s important to know those differences.

Step 2: Writing and Submitting the Proposal 

Now that we have accomplished step one, step two is straightforward: read, read, read the proposal guidelines of the funder and follow them “to the letter.” Take your time, focus on the proposal and proofread your document carefully. Make sure you submit your proposal on time (early is better), because you don’t want to miss the deadline!

Good luck and if you need any help at all during the process, please feel free to contact me by email or by calling 225-578-7366.

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