If you’ve worked on a grant proposal, you know there are a lot of moving parts. For example, you need to collect information, manage tasks, and collaborate with others. In this post, we’ll present ideas of how to use Evernote for grant writing and proposal management. At the end of the post, you’ll find resources for learning more about Evernote's features.
How do you know which grants your organization should apply for? To use your limited resources effectively, it's important to pursue only those opportunities that fit your organizational and programmatic capabilities. Pursuing grants your organization is unlikely to win doesn't make sense. On the flip side, some grant opportunities aren't worth applying to--regardless of the odds of winning an award--because of the high cost of project implementation.
Creating a grant strategy involves identifying the funders you want to pursue, and, to the degree possible, specific opportunities of interest from each funding source. Developing a grant strategy also requires insight into your organization. You need to know your organization's long- and short-term goals, its capabilities and resources, and its tolerance for risk. To create a realistic strategy, you also need to be familiar with the general funding environment.
The executive summary is a concise overview of the proposal that should touch on all of the key themes of greatest interest to the funder. In some cases, the executive summary may be the only section of the proposal some evaluators will read. Some of the choices you'll need to consider around the crafting of an executive summary include when to write it, what content to include, and how to work within page limits for maximum impact.
To assemble a grant proposal, even if your organization is small and most grant applications you submit are short, you'll still need some tools to organize the process, communicate with colleagues, and package and submit the proposal. The tools below are ones you should consider adding to your toolkit.
If you are wondering what you can do to turn things around, it may be helpful to look at common reasons why applications fail to be funded. Here are 5 common reasons why grant applications fail:
Cost share requires the applicant to contribute a certain dollar amount (or dollar equivalent) to support the budget and thus "share" the costs of the proposed project. This post is going to cover some of the basics around cost share including why it is required, why it matters when evaluating opportunities, and how you can come up with cost share.
How can you be innovative enough to keep the grant money flowing without changing your tried 'n true approaches to core services?
One approach is to innovate around what's working. If your programs are effective, maybe you can bring innovation to the operations side and how you manage your programs. If your organization has strong service delivery programs and program management infrastructure, perhaps there are opportunities to be innovative in the way you approach the sustainability of your programs and services.
An organizational chart can show two things. First, it can be an easy, visual way of showing reporting lines, or who is reporting to whom. Second, organizational charts can show communication lines, or who is communicating with whom, including who will be communicating to the donor. Although frequently included as part of a proposal's annex, organizational charts can also be included in the body of the grant proposal as part of the management section. Organizational charts can range from basic to elaborate depending on the needs of the proposal and the limits on your budget. Below are a three options for creating organizational charts.
Below you'll find nine conferences scheduled for October and November 2016. Except for the International Fundraising Congress, all of the conferences listed below will take place in the U.S. This fall it's an East Coast line-up with several of the conferences taking place in the Washington DC area and two in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Even for a "simple" proposal, there will be multiple people contributing to the different pieces, with some working on the budget, others writing the more technical pieces, and still others wrangling together the supporting materials. If you are lucky, you'll also have an editor on your team who can copyedit the proposal at the final stage. Below are four things you can do to make the proposal process easier when there are several writers involved:
Foundation grants often have known release dates and established program areas, which mean there are few surprises: You can find out when the foundation accepts proposals, and you can usually read up on the program areas and past grantees on the foundation's website. You may even be able to access the grant application well in advance of the time applications are due if the foundation uses a standard application format.
Government grant opportunities are different. For many government funding opportunities, the agency that will release the funding announcement doesn't have direct control over all the variables including how much money a grant will award and even when the opportunity announcement will be published.
How do you start work on a proposal opportunity that hasn't been announced yet? There is a two-part answer. Your approach will depend on whether you are interested in foundation funding or government grants. This post will focus on preparing for foundation grants. A follow-up post will discuss preparing for government grants.
When it works out, having a grant from a large donor can be a great boon for the organization. Having a single grant of $100K can be easier to manage than four $25K grants. That said, the large-donor strategy has some pitfalls and is not always the best route.
The largest funders of research are government agencies, but private and corporate foundations also fund research. Although grants awarded by foundations are usually smaller than those awarded by government agencies, foundation grants are almost always easier to apply to leading to lower opportunity costs.Research grants from foundations, similar to those from government agencies, can target either individuals or institutions.
If your organization is based in a developing country, you may not be able to secure funding directly from some foreign donors. While providing funding for projects in developing countries, many donors will only fund projects led by nonprofits headquartered in the same country where the donor itself is located. Instead of receiving funds directly from the donor, local partners--the organizations located in the country where the project will take place--join the project as subcontractors (or "subs") to a lead organization based in the donor's country.
If you're serious about finding grant funding, you'll need a system to track which funders you've researched. Without a method to track the funding resources you've evaluated, you may miss out on funding opportunities. You may also find yourself researching the same funder multiple times because you've forgotten the details of your initial review. One tool that offers the flexibility to manage all parts of the funding process is Trello.