It's Clearly Logical
(This article originally appeared as a GrantWise column in the Spring 1997 issue of Partnerships.)
Let's face it, writing a grant is not the most exciting way to spend one's time. But getting the grant is very exciting. My desk is piled high with grant requests the Foundation would like to award but can't because the proposal is incomplete or poorly written. So, in the short space this column allows, I'd like to renew my commitment to helping you "get the grant."
In the last issue of Partnerships, two northern California grant writers told us how important it is to do your homework before submitting a grant request. I can't emphasize enough how valuable this step is in the process.
Sierra Health Foundation receives at least five times as many proposals as it can fund, so you want to do everything you can to get the reviewers' undivided attention.
When I ask any of our team of consultants and reviewers how a proposal grabs their attention, they say they can always tell when writers do their homework. Staff reviewers Lisa Chesin and Kerry Blume agree. Their responsibility is to screen and analyze health-grant requests and make recommendations for approval to the Foundation's Board of Directors. Your responsibility is to help them do that.
"I am always impressed when proposals match the Foundation's application guidelines," says Lisa, who compiled the list of tips below as sure-fire ways to accomplish that task. These tips are invaluable in most grant-seeking efforts.
Lisa also will tell you that writing a successful grant application can never rest on only one person. "It's critical that someone else review your proposal before submitting it," says Lisa. "By doing this, you'll get honest feedback from an independent reader who can verify that what you are saying is truly what you mean."
Kerry Blume adds that the punch in your grant request will be felt by the reader when a consistent logic evolves from your problem statement. "Clearly state the problem and its workable solution," recommends Kerry, "and then tell me how the problem will be resolved through a comprehensive approach.
"If the logic isn't clear, it's difficult for the reader to fill in the gaps," says Kerry. "I want to know, without a lot of flash and glamour, what the problem is and what will be done to address it. I'm not looking for miracles; I'm looking for reasonable and clearly defined approaches to solve real problems."
Neither Lisa nor Kerry nor I want to spend a lot of time reading between the lines — our interpretation could be incorrect. Although writing a compelling application takes a lot of work, you can increase your chances for success by doing the necessary homework. And don't forget to use outside reviewers and nonprofit resource centers for help and information.
I hope these tips will help in your grant-writing tasks. Remember, the Foundation's success is measured by the success of the projects we fund. And success can be very exciting!
- Follow the application instructions
- Be brief, concise and clear
- Describe the problem fully
- Define achievable and measurable objectives
- Present a logical approach
- Provide supporting statistics (national, state and local)
- Describe clearly how funds will be used
- Define personal contributions of the board and staff of your
- List important qualities of the organization and key project
- Provide a continuation plan