Before you begin the hard work of crafting a grant application or proposal, you need to have a clear idea in your mind about the elements needed to achieve your goals. This includes detailed knowledge of the budgets, timelines, scopes of work and expected outcomes. This is not something to do while developing the grant proposal--it is best done in advance.
One thing to get straight is the difference between your organization’s operations, programs and specific projects. Making sure you are using the correct term, and coordinating each will help you determining which applications to send to potential funders.
Operations of an organization are the continuing and repetitive activities that are done in order to achieve the mission and conduct business. Operations don’t always have a definable end and are not a ‘one-time-only’ effort. Operations or operational costs are not generally supported in grant funding so you will need to be creative illustrating operational costs in your proposal. (Example: an organization whose mission is to encourage life-long learning could have regular operational activities, such as board meeting, to oversee work toward their mission and to ensure that it is achieved over time. )
A program is a group of related projects managed or coordinated in order to maximize outcomes or work effort. Funding agencies often award grants to support ongoing programs, but only when the application can clearly articulate the fiscal and programmatic importance of the work to achieving the organizational mission. (Example: an organization encouraging life-long learning could present a variety of outreach, membership or educational programs that are continually presented to maintain activity toward the mission.)
A project is a ‘temporary’ work endeavor undertaken to create a unique and specific product or deliverable with a specific end date or time. A project could be one element of a program and should reflect specific milestones to ensure success. The successful grant applications, supporting projects will include project management outcomes that identify how the organization will plan, execute, control and end a specified activity that is aligned to the organizational mission. (Example: an organization encouraging life-long learning could plan a symposium on the topic of learning as a part of their ongoing educational programming, with the intent that it will be a one-time event.)