Step 6: Be Deliberate
Grant awards are not accidental. Each grant award is a reaction from a funding agency to the focused and deliberate discussion of YOUR needs. Instead of approaching the process with the idea of: What's the worst they can say? No? or "no harm-no foul", be deliberate and strategic. When you plan your programs, align your grant-writing strategy and write your proposals be sure to highlight EXACTLY how your program/project matches the goals of the funding organization. Spell it out for them so they see the connections between their funding focus and the specific work you will do. Strive to be in the driver's seat as opposed to letting the funding agency dictate what programs you develop. During these tough economic times you can maximize your effort by being deliberate about which foundations or grants to which you will apply.
It is always great to be in the right place at the right time. You can create the right place and the right time by doing the research, and presenting the exciting program or plan that will catch the eye of the funding agency or philanthropist. Foundations like to see that the funding they provide will make a difference, achieve success, and is sustainable. The keys to success include a well-organized program, reasonable and achievable strategies to serve a specific group of people, and results that make a difference. Make a compelling case to the funder about how your program will help make this a better world.
Step 4: Follow Their Lead
We can't say it enough. Follow the guidelines! Follow the guidelines! Follow the guidelines! Each foundation or funding agency will have unique directions, guidelines and procedures for developing and submitting the application. The granting organization will tell you exactly what they want from you to allow you access to thier funding. Listen to what they say. Follow their lead. Answer the questions carefully, directly and clearly. Answer the questions precisely as they are presented in the foundation request for proposal/application. Read each question carefully and remember that they are the leaders in this situation and you are following their lead to chart your course to funding success.
Step 3: Take the Time You Need
You have heard it before: Haste Makes Waste. When you rush you may not be as thorough as you would like, may make more mistakes and may give the impression that you don't care about quality workmanship. Still, we have all been in the situation where we are working on a grant application until the final deadline hour.
It does not have to be like that. A grant application should reflect the highest level of professionalism as it relates to your organization. The application speaks for the entire organization and may be the only representation of you, your work, and the work of our colleagues to the funding agency. It needs to be perfect.
In reality, the actual grant application development (preparing and submitting the application itself) represents only 20% of the process. The remaining 80% of the work happens behind-the-scenes in research and program planning before you even start on the application package.
To increase your grant award results, be strategic about your time and include only well-planned projects in grant applications. Resist the temptation to 'build a program/project' while developing the grant application where you are essentially chasing the money. Your time will be better spent on outlining, specifically, what it is that you want to fund.