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Grant Proposals: 7 Questions to Ask As You Write

grant proposal
(Image credit: Pixabay)

In recent months we’ve discussed questions to ask yourself before choosing the grant opportunity you’ll apply for (6 Grant Application Questions to Ask Yourself) and questions to ask before you start writing (Grant Proposals: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing). Now, we’ll look at questions to consider as you write the proposal, which will include two parts: how well you address what’s being asked of you and tips to help you write about key issues that will demonstrate that you should win the grant.

The Request for Proposals (RFPs) is your guide to writing. Almost all RFPs want similar information and many want your answers in a specific format. Larger grants want the information and order as listed below. While this seems rigid, it helps you stay organized. 

Just remember that your writing should convey the excitement you feel about your plan, your goal, and your confidence. 

1. Summary/Abstract: Are you including excerpts from each section? 

Funders want this section up front so they know what to look for although it seems counterintuitive to write it this way. So write it later but put it first when you compile the proposal.

2. Needs: Did you detail the compelling needs of your school, district, or group and why it should get funded for this project?
Funders want to make a difference. So write about why your school or district needs this grant to achieve great things. Use data to demonstrate the educational needs this project is designed to addresss.

3. Goals and Objectives: Did you explain specific objectives and the methods you will use to reach each goal, and are the needs, goals, and objectives clearly aligned?
Link your goals to your needs assessment statement to show how your project will help solve a critical problem in your school or district. Be as specific as possible to explain your ideas and project so they will see exactly how effective this program will be. Make your objectives read as measurable steps.

4. Narrative:  Did you describe your action plan with specifics on how it leads to success: what you'll do; how you'll do it; where you'll do it; and who's going to do what?
The more detail you give, the better. Include any relevant history and mission of your school and district as it applies to your project’s purpose. Use your best writing skills, include a hook to draw your reader in, and regale them with the possibilities of your project.

5. Budget: Did you itemize every budget item and explain clearly how each is required to guarantee success?
Funders want to be sure that their money will be well spent. Demonstrate that you will use the budget wisely.

6. Personnel: Did you show which staff members will be part of the program, how each one’s qualifications will contribute to make the program a success, and what each will do?
Make it clear that you have a great qualified team in place to achieve your goals.

7. Evaluation: Did you explain what you will measure, the methods of measurement, and the benchmarks you will use so it is clear how the project will prove that it achieved its targets?
Include a concrete timeline with start and end dates. You may want to involve an outside evaluator, especially if this is a large grant. Regardless of the size, however, you should include the ways in which you will know you’ve actually achieved your goals. 

How to Approach Key Grant Proposal Issues 

As you write, include details that give the funders a real sense of who you are, your school or district, and the goals and importance of this project. Below are a few tips that can guide you to include valuable detail. 

Technology

Be sure to define the technology required for each part of the proposal and show how it will help you reach the grant’s goals. 

District Goals 

It’s important to place this project in the context of your school or district’s long-term plans and how it will make a significant difference for student achievement.

Leveraging Resources

Explain how you will tap into other resources already available in the district or community and aren’t simply asking for funds to reinvent the wheel.

Replicability 

Show how this initiative has the potential to be replicated by others – first within your district, and then out to the larger community, to have a far-reaching impact.

Funder

Demonstrate that your proposal addresses what the grant funder is looking for. Be clear on how it will further their goals. They will want to publish the results, so whet their appetites. Read about the funder and its goals for grant giving beforehand.

Commitment

The funder wants to see your dedication to this project. Leave no doubt about the passion in your proposal; they want to be your partners.

Gwen Solomon was Founding Director of The School of the Future in New York City, Coordinator of Instructional Technology Planning for New York City Public Schools, and Senior Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Instructional Technology. She has written and co-authored several books and many magazine articles on educational technology.