Looking for money for a program at your school or district? We've been updating our project on Grants and Funding. Here are some tips before you begin your proposal from the US Environmental Association:
- Rule #1: Believe that someone wants to give you the money!
- Project your organization into the future.
- Start with the end in mind...look at your organization's big picture. Who are you? What are your strengths and priorities?
- Create a plan not just a proposal.
- Do your homework: Research prospective funders. Try and search locally first. Target funding source that has interest in your organization and program.
A successful grant proposal is one that is thoughtfully planned, well prepared, and concisely packaged. A few tips from http://lone-eagles.com/granthelp.htm (for complete list)
1. Read the current guidelines for those foundations on what they will fund and when the grants are due. If a foundation says they won't fund equipment, don't ask them for equipment (unless it's a necessary component of the part of the grant they said they'd fund!) If they say they'll fund up to $15,000, don't ask them for $50,000. Do your homework! Grant reviewers appreciate those who paid attention to their RFP's (Requests for Proposals.)
2. Collect sample successful grants to use as boilerplate models. Many foundations will send you, on request, proposals from past funded projects. Being a grant reader can help you be a better grant writer.
3. Use the same terms in your proposal that the foundation used to describe what they want to fund. Buzz phrases push important buttons. If they tell you what to tell them: listen, and be convincing as to how your project dovetails with their posted guidelines.
4. Less is More! Reviewing stacks of proposals is a difficult job. Grant reviewers quickly learn to scan text, particularly proposal abstracts, in an attempt to get a quick overview of exactly what you expect to do, with whom, when, how, and toward what measurable outcome. If you are short and to the point, and you've answered the key questions, your grant will be viewed as comprehensible and fundable.
5. A catchy name, like "Reach for the Sky" which is also descriptive of the project, can make a big difference. Remember they will want to promote your project proudly as one of their great projects.
6. Sustainability is a big issue. Too many grant projects disappear after the funding is gone. How can you assure ongoing benefits once the funding runs out is one of the biggest questions in the mind of the grant reviewer.
7. Measurable outcomes. Once the grant is over, exactly what was produced, how will it be disseminated and exactly how many people will have benefited? How do you intend to measure tangible outcomes to prove the projected benefit actually occurred?
8. Even if your first grant-writing effort doesn't get funded, the planning and writing process still allows you to resubmit your idea elsewhere.
9. Make it fun! If you get funded, you'd better enjoy working hard to make your dream happen. Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it! Once a grant ends, what will you have built for the future? Will you be right back where you started having to write another grant? Plan accordingly.