News and Trends
By Gary A. Carnow, Ed.D.
Even if you have never written a grant proposal,
you can succeed at it. It is a lot like
planning a lesson; you already know how
to do that. Many teachers and administrators
turn to grant development to embark
on innovative work—work that often has no
committed funding or that there is no time to
attempt in this era of shrinking budgets.
Writing a grant proposal is both an art and a
science. Through experimentation, science establishes
truth or finds objective
facts. Art uses
ideas and emotions
to think through and
express your problems and your proposed
solutions to them in a clear, understandable
format. With practice and persistence, you
can become skilled in creating fundable
proposals. Here are four strategies for
keeping your eyes on the road to success
in grant-proposal writing.
Why Do You Need This Grant?
You may be able to make a good case for acquiring
a particular technology of your choice. But grants fund
ideas, not stuff. Your job in creating a fundable proposal
is to express your wants and needs as creative ideas for
programs. As you develop your proposal, explain what the
kids are going to do. Describe who will benefit and how
you will know you have made a difference.
All in the Organization
Proposals that are organized, well written, and focused have
a better chance of being funded. A well-written proposal
answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why,
and so what; be succinct, and get to the essence of what
you are trying to do. Plain language is efficient for both
the author and the reader. So much about grant-proposal
writing seems mysterious
to those just starting out,
but remember that a grant
proposal is very structured.
It is more like a newspaper
article than a short story.
Write so that you draw the
reader into your program from
your opening sentence.
Writing a grant proposal is a daunting
exercise in time management.
Writing one always takes longer
than you plan on spending. Schedule
time to write. Estimate how long it
will take to coordinate grant planning
and research. And how much time
will it take you to write and package
your proposal, then submit it
and follow up on it? Figure out
what you believe is a realistic time
allotment. Then double that and
get to work.
Writers of grant proposals typically
find that collaboration is an
essential ingredient in preparing one except when it
comes to actually writing it. A grant proposal by committee
is a painful document to read. Teams do help
you brainstorm, analyze what is and what could be,
develop goals and objectives, determine an evaluation
plan, and put the action plan into monetary terms with a
best-guess budget. Teams also provide great feedback
on a first draft and help the main writer of the proposal
include topics that may have been overlooked and
improve areas that need work.