The pieces of the grant-winning process are so interrelated that you really have to think about it all simultaneously. For example, you should have an idea for what you want grant money to do while you also explore what grants are available that could be appropriate.
A good way to think about the task is to ask yourself questions and jot down the answers. As you move along in the process, consult your lists and make revisions as you refine your thinking.
With so many grants out there, it’s critical to know what you need and target the ones that match. Read the call for proposals carefully and recognize which are looking for proposals like yours. Beyond that, consider the questions below and be honest with yourself. If you can’t answer yes, look elsewhere.
Once you’re sure of the grant to aim for, there will be more questions to ask yourself before you write the proposal. And then, even more questions, including those to ask as you write the proposal and then the last-minute ones before you actually submit it.
6 Grant Application Questions to Ask Before Searching for a Grant Opportunity
1. Do you have a compelling idea?
Over time, others have had great ideas for improving student achievement. While it’s not against any rule to adopt or adapt someone else’s success, the surest way to win a grant is to have a unique idea. Just be sure you can explain why it will work. Either way, be sure it’s logical and it fits into a grant awarder’s list of what they will fund (opens in new tab). Funders are looking for great ideas but any has to be within the parameters of what they think will make a difference.
2. Do you truly need the funding and can you explain why?
Most schools need money for extras but you will have to explain why your idea will be critical. You also have to explain how the grant money will provide an outstanding result for the funder’s investment. Look carefully at what the organization has funded in the past and what they say they’re looking for now (opens in new tab).
3. Do you have the organization skills to write the proposal?
It’s one thing to have a great idea and another to write an award-winning proposal. For that, you need organization skills (opens in new tab) and the ability to communicate. Make sure you read every grant opportunity carefully to see if your proposal will address everything the funder is looking for. Then make a list to be sure all of your ducks are in a row.
4. Does the staff have the skills and willingness to carry out the project?
You may be enthusiastic about your idea and are willing to put in a lot of effort to write the grant and make it work if you win. But do you have the staff on board so everything will go smoothly? Are they committed? You’ll have to stress how much everyone on the team is ready and able to make this work.
5. Do you have stakeholder buy-in?
Running a grant is a team effort, one that’s made up of you as the organizer, the teachers who will work with students, the staff that provides support, the administration, parents, and in some cases, the school board. You will need to get their support in your efforts to win a grant and include that information in your proposal. Be sure that the grant you pick is for a reputable organization or you may lose support.
6. Do you have the ability to write a proposal?
Proposal writing is an art. You have to understand exactly what is being asked and formulate the best answer. To do that you need to be able to write in clear, simple, convincing terms (opens in new tab). Have an elevator pitch, the ability to express your basic idea in one sentence. You’ll convince the funders if they are certain they know what you want to do.