Creating Effective Grant Applications for the Most Well Suited Resources
You can create the most well written application, with all i’s and t’s dotted and crossed, with excellent collaborative partners in place, and with strong evaluation and sustainability plans. However, if you are not submitting those well written and effective applications to the most appropriate and well-suited potential resources for your organization, your hard work could be for naught.
Competency 1: Developing an Effective Grant Application
There are so many components that go into creating an effective grant application; one that is concise, compelling, and makes a strong connection to the funder’s priorities. Engaging stakeholders, identifying research related to your proposed evidence-based practices, and utilizing logic models are all part of creating an effective application.
Convening a “grant team” and soliciting their input early on as well as throughout the grant application design and drafting process is a critical component of creating an effective grant application. In some situations, working groups have already been established and in others, you as the grant professional are charged with identifying and assembling a grant team for an application.
Balancing who to define as a stakeholder and invite to the grant team table can be tricky to navigate as you work to create a group that takes into account both the big picture strategic planning issues as well as the detailed planning necessary to fully design the application and budget.
Having the right team in place to support your work as a grant professional is critical as the collective knowledge and resources that they bring to the team will assist you in crafting an effective application that addresses best practices in evaluation for your field, utilizes tools like logic models to convey the program’s goals and objectives, and thoroughly answers the question about how a program will be sustained after the grant period is over.
Competency 3: Identifying and Matching Funding Resources
The tools you use as a grant professional in developing your effective grant application are a critical aspect of your success. One of the most critical tools you will utilize in crafting an effective grant application is the grant funder research that you conduct as part of your identification of potential resources to support your program or organization goals.
Whether looking to identify resources at the private, state, or federal level, the identifying and matching of potential funding resources to the needs of your organization is like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes the correct utilization of numerous tools to gather all the necessary information to put together as complete a picture of the funder’s priorities, process, and history before making an relationship focused outreach.
You need to focus on balancing the information found through paid databases with that of free resources such as Grants.gov, Guidestar.org, or Foundation Center’s 990 finder and finally with the materials directly from the source including the funder’s website, annual report etc. Piecing that research together to assemble your grant research jigsaw puzzle will position you for the strongest relationship building conversation or email with a potential funder, and ultimately help you determine if you will be as competitive as necessary in their application process.
8 Competencies for Grant Professionals
In order to become a certified grant professional, I had to demonstrate my competency in 8 areas as defined by the Grant Professionals Certification Institute. These eight competencies are critical to the work I do and the work I do with my team. Those of us that are GPCs are so passionate about our certification and increasing awareness of the competencies, that five of us decided to write about each competency. You can see pieces about each competency through their links below:
1: Effective Grant Applications (which I covered in this post)
3: Funding Resources (which I also covered in this post)
5: Improving Our Profession through Ethical Practice and Professional Development – by Heather Stombaugh, GPC
6: Grant Management – by Jana Hexter, GPC
7: Constructing Grantee/Grantor Relationships (Cultivate & Maintain Relationships) – by Mark Whitacre, GPC
8: Improving Our Profession through Ethical Practice and Professional Development (Raise the Level of Professionalism) – by Heather Stombaugh, GPC
What are your thoughts about the competencies required of those working to become certified grant professionals? Do you agree that they are all critical skills for grant professionals to hold? Do you think that there are any competencies that are overlooked in this list of eight?
If you would like to have more dialogue about these 8 competencies for certified grant professionals, I would encourage you to join me (@dianehleonard) with my co-moderator Jo Miller (@jm_grants) during #grantchat (a weekly Twitter chat for grant professionals on Tuesdays at 12pm ET) as we complete an eight week series discussing one of the competencies each week. You can find more information about the upcoming chats and take a peek at the previous week’s dialogues here.