10.05.2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Grant Writing Tip #4 – Government Grants

Institutional buy-in is absolutely necessary for government grants. You need at least three people in your organization that have a vested interest in the proposed project or program.

Writing government grants can take more than 100 hours to put together. And competition is stiff. For example, in a recent funding round, 46 grants were awarded from a pool of 600 applicants.

The submission consists of a proposal narrative (10, 15, 25, or 35 pages) and as many as 25 attachments. If you know about the funding opportunity before the RFP (Request for Proposals) comes out, call the funding agency and vet your program with a program officer. Please note that federal agency staff do not like to talk with potential funders after the solicitation is out. And many agencies are turning to help desks to answer queries. Program officers will not be reviewing your proposal. A panel of peers from around the country will review your proposal.

What are reviewers looking for?

  • You are a partner with the government agency. They want taxpayers and legislators to know that tax dollars are reaching the public and doing good.
  • Government agencies are looking for breath and depth. They want their awarded programs to reach a lot of people. Your proposal will be stronger if it’s national in scope, or perhaps replicable by others.
  • Your program or project should develop relationships with constituents over a longer term.
  • Make sure that your program demonstrates a positive impact on others.

What makes a good proposal?

  • Write clearly and succinctly.
  • Pitch your language to an educated, general audience and avoid using professional jargon or buzz words.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. For example, make sure you have both the staff capacity and money to carry out the program, otherwise you’ll have to return both the awarded contract and the money.
  • Do your homework. Make sure your project will not duplicate a project or research already in the field, or serve as research pulled from the Internet.
  • The more innovative the program the better, which will serve your constituents and the field.
  • Have a sound evaluation plan that answers the question: How will you know that your program is successful? Keep in mind that you’re a research partner with the government agency. They’re collecting information on what works. (If you’re hiring an evaluation professional, you can create a line item for them in the project budget.)
  • Getting in-kind gifts or additional support for your project is always attractive to potential funders.
  • Resolve inconsistencies in the proposal. Do all the pieces make sense?
  • Case studies can be persuasive.
  • Have at least three people look at the submission before it goes out the door.

To get started, visit grants.gov. Good luck!



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