Academic Writing Complete Guide
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Writing a grant proposal takes a lot of time. You have to describe the problem clearly in your area of interest, design a program to tackle it and the description that program comprehensively to the grant maker. If this is your first time applying for a grant, you stand a chance of benefiting from this grant. The aim is to come up with a well-thought proposal that outlines a strategy that addresses the problem as well as the funds involved.
Types of proposals
When you mention the word grant proposal, many people would think of a big multipage document. In reality, there are several types of proposals and the one you write depends on the organization that you are addressing and the ultimate goal. Each of them is different in terms of length and substance. The choice of the proposal that you write also depends on where you are sending, what you are requesting, and the specifics that the funder is looking for.
These types of proposals include:
- Letter of Inquiry
This goes to a foundation and is meant to pique the interest of the funder in your project. You can send several letters of inquiry to a number of foundations to see if they will get interested in your project. This type of grant proposal runs two to three pages that summarize your project. As such, it gives a taste of what you are planning. With the Letter of Inquiry, you and the funder seek to see if your interests align and they happen, and then you can move to write the full proposal.
Most funder organizations prefer receiving the letter of inquiry first to have a quick assessment of your project to decide if it fits the bill or not. If it does not meet their interest, then you have to move on. Your nonprofit can initiate a letter to test your ideas or the funder can request it. most foundations will include their preferences for a letter or proposal in their guidelines which are usually posted on the funder’s website. They are also part of the request for proposal that you will be responding to.
In the Letter of Inquiry, you have to describe the need, outline and plan to meet it and show how the project fits within the interests and priorities of the funder.
- Full proposal
This is what most people think of when grant proposals are mentioned. It is written following a standard format that includes a cover letter, project summary and the amount of money required for the project. They range in length with some going up to 25 pages. It is important that you stick to the funder’s directions on how they want the proposal to appear. You also have to pay close attention to your cover letters since it is a mini pitch in its entirety.
Large funder organizations prefer online submission of proposals. Special considerations for online applications abound so you have to ensure that you understand how online applications work. As such, you must take time to write each section of the proposal first, check for any mistakes in the work before you submit.
This is much more preferred than a long formal proposal. You can write to a corporate foundation seeking a monetary gift or pitch a sponsorship deal or marketing program. A letter of three to four pages will suffice. It should describe the project, explain your organization, and include the actual financial request set out in your sponsorship proposals. This letter might seem easier but it still presents a challenge of stating your case briefly and succinctly.
However, you are not supposed to confuse the letter proposal with the letter of inquiry. The letter proposal is a request for funds whereas the letter of inquiry introduces the idea to the funder to see if they are interested.
Steps of writing your grant proposal
Agree on the problem
If you want your proposal to receive funding, you have to convince the grant maker that funding your program will benefit them immensely as well as the community around. You have to identify the need that can be improved in your community. As such, you need to agree with the community of the problem that needs to be addressed since that is essential in getting the required funding.
- Involve the stakeholders
All the stakeholders must be involved in to develop a successful grant proposal. A stakeholder is anyone who has any interest or is affected by the project. They can be citizens within a community, parties responsible for the problem, business, government and other entities that will help in paying for the success of the project. You can also seek the involvement of the organizations that you have already entered in to a partnership with. You can also consider making new relationships with like-minded organizations.
- Define the problem or situation
All stakeholders must be involved in making a clear and concise description of the problem. You can arrange for more than one meeting to arrive at a reasonable consensus and the effort will be worth it. Once you have agreed on the problem, the rest of the work will be easy.
- Describe the impact of the problem
Describe the effects of the problem in a clear and objective language. it should show the social economic costs.
- Examine possible causes of the problem
Even if they are obvious, see agreement from most of the stakeholders since the amount t of evidence you present is important.
Describe what you hope to achieve
This is a time to focus on the desired outcome of your proposed activity.
- Measure success in outputs and inputs
Do not confuse these terms. Outputs denote the measures of all the activities of the program. Outcomes are the resultant effects of these activities.
- Identify the key outcomes
- Set realistic and achievable outcomes
- Measure and record the results of your work
- Focus on the ultimate results
Design your programs
By now, you know where you are and where you want to go. As such, you have to identify the best path that will lead you there to decide on the best path consider the following:
- Get the opinion of the experts
- Research on what has been done previously
- Get buy-in from stakeholders. In other words, the stakeholders have to fully agree on the plan
- Describe your solution
Locate the funding sources
Now that you have a consensus on the solution and program design, you have to find the resources to get the project off the ground. You have to invest in time and careful planning. There are funders who have lengthy processes of reviewing proposals. Consider the following:
- Start with people or organizations that you know by targeting your research
- You can use the internet to look for funders
- As relevant questions when you are reviewing a funding source
- Once you land one, establish a relationship with the grant program officer
- Involve the funder in your project since some of them want to be hands-on and share in your success.
Write your proposal
Once you have established every necessary for your proposal, it is time to sit down and write the document. Every proposal should be tailored to each funder. It is crucial to use the preferred format of the funder since most organization make their winning proposals public. You can study these proposals and use them as a benchmark for your grant proposal. They are also essential in knowing the kind of terminologies that you are going to use in your paper. Before you start the writing process, you should ensure that you understand what is required of you.
- Follow the instructions
If there is a page limit, stick to it. If you feel like you need to take an exception, seek approval from the funder organization.
- Study their criteria since most of the funding programs are competitive and there are awards involved
- Use a checklist to ensure that your application meets the requirements and is complete
- Consider seeking help from a person who is well conversant with the proposal writing process
- Gove your proposal to a cold reader for a review
You cause a person who is not involved in the project to review your proposal.
- Ensure that you meet the set deadline
Most of the grant programs follow a very strict and unyielding deadline. If you miss it, you will; be eliminated and your funding dreams will disappear. As such, you have to start the process of writing your proposal early. This way, you will be able to meet the set deadline.
- Edit your work
It is important to ensure that you have edited your proposal to weed out any incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Check to also see if you have followed every requirement of the funder organization on your proposal. You do not want to present something that is flawed given the nature of seriousness associated with the proposal. Once you correct everything, submit your proposal.