Tips for Grant Writers
By Kay Pruitt
Grant Writer/ Development Officer EFSC
Kay has written grants funded by US Department of Labor, US Department of Education, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Endowment for the Humanities and provided support to faculty submitting proposals to federal, state, and local funders. M.S. in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University and B.A. in English/Spanish from Butler University.
It’s not all about you.
John Q. Go-Getter wants Gizmo X and does not have one spare hour in his life for more responsibilities. Funder MegaBucks wants more low-income students to have coaches while pursuing STEM degrees.
Funder MegaBucks does not care about Gizmo X. John Q. Go-getter doesn’t have time to run a program finding and matching coaches with low-income STEM students. This is not a grant-marriage made in heaven.
Translation to application: Does the EFSC program need or your interest or time availability align with the funder’s agenda?
Budgets are truth serum.
Translation to application: Reviewers have been known to read the budget first to find out what the proposer really wants. Some reviewers read the proposal side-by-side with the budget, budget narrative, and list of committed college resources to find out if what is proposed has the necessary resources to happen.
John Q. Go-Getter goes ahead and writes a creative proposal with lots of coaches and supports for low-income students. He figures it doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t do once the award is made. The MegaBucks reviewers go straight to the budget page which lists only Gizmo X and its installation costs. It doesn’t take a mind reader to know what John Q. really wants.
Goals and objectives
Be clear about what the goals, objectives, and subsidiary tasks are.
Are you heading in the right way?
Translation to application: Have mercy on the reviewer and use headings, sub headings, and sub sub headings that help readers hone in on all the elements required by the Request for Proposals. If the funder provides headings, use them! Include as much white space as possible.
Most proposals are not the next best seller. A sea of unbroken text will lull the reviewer into deep sleep.
A consultant observed that the following simple block structure for a timeline is the most common format used in funded proposals he has seen.
Do your homework.
Translation to application: Show how your project complements current and past work. Demonstrate awareness of relevant and significant research while distinguishing your project from previous work. Typically the research review is in the introduction. Pay attention to guidelines from the funder, but this section tends to be around 2 pages.