In today’s environment, many grants are highly competitive. These tips will help you craft a creative, well-reasoned application that can stand out from the crowd.
Craft Your Idea
The first step to any application should be crafting your idea. Take a step back and consider what it is you are looking to achieve. What are your current strengths; where do you need a little help; what is it you are asking for? All of these questions should be answered before even starting an application. Being able to explain what you hope to achieve upfront will make the rest of the application process much easier.
Identify Funding Sources
Once you know what you want to achieve and what it will take, start looking for funding options. There are a number of federal and state agencies that offer funding, but don’t forget to look closer to home as well. Local businesses and foundations are often looking for ways to help out in their community. Depending on the situation, it may even be worth considering asking your local PTA/PTSA for help or considering using crowdfunding options such as DonorsChoose.org.
Be sure to review each option carefully to ensure your needs align with the types of projects they are looking to fund.
Write the Proposal
It is important to know your audience. Spend some time researching the organization behind the grant and look at past projects they have sponsored. This way, you can craft an application that will resonate with the reviewers.
When filling out the application, follow all guidelines very closely; an improperly completed application may be thrown out without even being reviewed. Be as specific as possible and focus on the facts. This includes specifying what you are asking for and calculating the costs of what you request. Use easy-to-understand language and avoid jargon that may confuse the reader.
Take time to fill out the application completely and correctly. A well thought-out application looks better than a rushed one and is more likely to attract the reviewer's attention.
Submit Your Proposal
Be sure to submit the application on time and meet all of the deadlines for any follow-up materials that are requested. It is especially important to verify that all the requested pieces are in place, or your application may not make it past an initial glance.
After you have been notified of the final decision, follow up with the sponsors. If you were awarded the grant, get all the information you need about expectations for fulfilling the request, deadlines and how payment will be received. If you were not selected, follow up to learn details about the decision and why you were not chosen. This information can prove useful for the next application you complete.What tips did we miss? Share your best funding application tips in the comments.