Many of our customers have their dreams of an expansive and fully-loaded (or, in some cases, just upgraded to the necessities) data center dashed by lack of funding. For some clients, applying for grants is one potential path to acquiring the additional funds needed to maintain and improve their IT environments.
However, writing grant proposals is an extremely challenging process. In this blog, I’m going to focus on some of the things I learned in my years of writing these proposals. Like any other skill, it takes passion, preparation, credibility, and perseverance.
If you are writing your 1st (or 20th) grant proposal, it is extremely important you remember the following key factors:
- Read your Grant Guidelines (this is a must). Make a list of all “fatal flaws” and keep that in mind as you construct your application.
- Create an outline of your project, including all required elements from the Grant Guidelines.
- Build your budget, understanding fully budget limitations on indirect costs, equipment, operating costs, etc.
- Write your organization’s story: Whether it be a school, hospital, or state facility, the story behind your needs is compelling.
- Paint a vivid picture for the reviewers, summarizing your project and laying out your needs as well as your intent for the project. Make sure your goals are measureable.
- Develop a graphic depiction of the relationships between resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes of your program.
- Incorporate case studies when available to demonstrate the work you’ve been doing and its efficacy.
- Reference research on similarly implemented programs to demonstrate.
- Complete your Grant application with a Project Summary.
Superior grants are well-prepared and demonstrate strong attention to detail. Grant proposals should be viewed as business plans designed to make the funding partner confident in the success of your project. Your proposal must convey the overall impact of resolving difficult problems for your organization, as well as the importance of befitting the student/constituents/member that you serve. At the same time, your submission must be passionate as you have to convince the reviewees that your proposal matters by addressing the impact, the “so what” question, and the paradigm shift you will make in the field.
At the end of the day, superior grants are a product of preparation, preparation, and more preparation. Once you are prepared, credibility, attention to detail, passion, and conviction will enthuse – and ultimately convince your donors.
Checklist for Success:
- Prior to even drafting the proposal, research the grant-making organization’s mission and funding interests thoroughly. Look for key phrases and try to integrate these into the text of your proposal.
- Check the organization’s website to see if there’s an archive of previous winners. See how well your idea lines up with what’s been funded in the past.
- Pay very close attention to the guidelines. Make sure to look into any internal requirements or deadlines for the opportunity.
- Get as much feedback as you possibly can. Give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts of your proposal.
Best of luck to you!