This blog is the second in a series of five blogs that address the basic aspects of successful proposals grant seekers often overlook. Last time, I wrote about the importance of planning to increase grant awards. Click here to read that post.
The message of this blog is the title. It’s worth repeating:
|Use Numbers to Get More Grants|
Use Numbers to Substantiate Need
Almost all requests for funding address some need. Almost all of them also promise some results or impact if the funding is received. Words can help describe the need and impact. But words, as I mentioned in Part I, have their limitations. If you want to support your case for funding, you need some statistics to prove the truth and extent of your statements.
Here is are two examples that express a concerning need. The numbers are fictitious, but you get the idea:
- Weak: Many families in our region don’t get enough food to eat.
- Stronger: Our county has an average income of $48,564/year, well below the 2014 national average of $52,939. At the same time, 43% of our population consists of families with school-age children. Many of these children come to school hungry, and hunger has been shown to lower academic scores (Vedantam, 2017). The 16 schools in our district average 55% of students receiving free and reduced lunch. The weekend backpack program sends home 350 backpacks to the neediest children and turns down requests for another 125. A statistically-sampled survey conducted by our county health department last year revealed 35% of families who indicate that their families sometimes leave the house with inadequate meals.
I’d like to point out some crucial aspects of the stronger example:
Simple language is fine. The writing has complete sentences, no grammatical errors, and some variety of sentence structure. But it’s not elaborate or especially florid. The writing style is not what makes the second example strong; it’s the power of the numbers that document a community in need.
Do the legwork. It takes time gather the kind of information reflected in the strong example. The type of data shown here could easily take an hour or more to research and document. When planning to write a proposal, set aside sufficient time to find numbers that support your case.
Cite authoritative sources. Any time you can cite sources with credibility, you enhance your own credibility. The strong example above includes a reference to published research. Other authoritative documents might be published magazine articles, reports from units of government, or statements from nationally recognized organizations.
Use Number to Demonstrate Impact
As with need, using numbers to demonstrate impact will strengthen the odds you’ll receive funding. Funders like to know and measure the results of their investments. You can help them by providing clear measurements that prove results.
- Weak: We will get more people to use rain barrels, which will result in greater water conservation.
- Stronger: Currently, only 0.5% of the population in our city (100,000) have rain barrels. The proposed awareness program will reach 30,000 people with the fliers, social media, public service announcements, and community presentations described in the Work Plan. We have tested the program with 100 people, and 12 of them took advantage of subsidies for rain barrels. We expect the percentage of adopters in a larger population to drop. If it drops to half of the test group percentage, 6%, the program will still bring an additional 1,800 barrels to peoples’ homes, increasing the total to 2,000, which is 2% of the population. The resulting annual savings, at an estimated $120 per barrel per year, would be $240,000.
Strong metrics reflect strong planning that will move your proposal up in the reviewer’s evaluation. They will also make things easier when you write your project reports. Furthermore, after the project has shown measurable progress, you will have a strong case for additional funding from this agency, as well as others. The more your numbers can prove that you’re meeting the funder’s goals, the more likely they are to smile upon your next request.
Using numbers to show results is not only good grantsmanship to help receive funding, but it’s also good stewardship. Good stewardship is an inherent responsibility that accompanies the support you receive from others. But, more than that, good stewardship builds goodwill, which in turn increases your prospects for future funding. Stewardship is the main focus of the next blog in this series.