Grant Services - Advice and Tips

First Three Things to Complete Once You Decide to Apply for a Grant

Wed, May 16, 2012 @ 10:05 AM / by Katie Adams

first things to complete when grant writing resized 600When determining to apply for a grant, there are a lot of factors to consider.  Is the program a good fit for your need? Can you meet the selection criteria? Can you make a strong case for funding? Once you decide a grant opportunity is "a go," however, the work really ramps up.  These are the first three steps our grant writers take when preparing a new grant proposal.

1. Read the guidelines and supporting materials thoroughly.

    Guidelines structure the entire proposal process.  Read them thoroughly. If FAQ documents and webinars are available, read those as well. The goal is to know all the specific requirements of the grant program and to identify those that need to be addressed first.  Certain items to watch out for include:

    • Submission/Registration requirements

    Different funding agencies have different requirements for proposal submission.  Usually they require registration on one or more websites.  Many government proposals require four registrations in addition to the articles of incorporation:  Dun & Bradstreet, CCR, Grants.Gov, and the departmental site.  Each registration may take many steps.  You’ll want to take care of any such registrations well ahead of time so as not to interfere with final preparations.

    • Conflicting or confusing items

    Guidelines are not always perfectly written. If items are confusing or seem contradictory, get in touch with the program office and ask for clarification. We prefer to ask our questions via email, to ensure that we have written documentation of the responses.

    • Formatting Requirements

    As with all requirements, not following formatting requirements can quickly result in a proposal becoming disqualified.  Take note of what the guideline requests, and prepare your documents accordingly.

    • Selection criteria and any corresponding point values

    This section explains how proposals will be judged, and the point values for selection can inform your program’s development and proposal structure. For instance, if the Evaluation section accounts for 20% of the overall selection points, you’ll want to include a strong evaluation plan.  Keep the selection criteria handy.  You will refer to them often when writing the proposal.

    • Double check deadlines

    We aim to submit at least one day ahead of any stated deadlines, usually several days ahead of time. This gives us a bit of a buffer in case we encounter submission problems.

    2. Set up a Grant Proposal Tracker.

      If a proposal is longer than 10 pages, we almost always set up an internal grant proposal tracker. This outlines the different sections of the proposal (such as: Abstract, Need, Program Design, etc.) and their allotted page counts. As we work on the proposal, we update the tracker based on the status of each section. This document then serves as a nice pre-submission checkpoint to ensure that both all required sections are accounted for and the proposal is within the stated page limits.

      3. Set a preliminary schedule.
        Determine what day you would like to submit the proposal, and then work backward, noting every task that needs to be completed in order to meet that deadline. Setting and keeping a proposal development schedule is one effective way to help ensure that our proposal is both thorough and submitted on time.

        Everyone’s work process is different.  What are the first steps you complete when beginning a new proposal? Write us and share your ideas. 

        Need help with a proposal? is prepared can manage the entire process or serve in an advisory role. Contact a Grant Helper for more information.  

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        Topics: ask these questions when writing a grant, How to Grant Write

        Katie Adams

        Written by Katie Adams

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