Attachments Are Not An Afterthought (Part 1)
Many grant applications require attachments in addition to the narrative and budget components. It can be easy to overlook addressing the attachments when faced with larger, more pressing tasks of developing a program and writing a lengthy narrative. However, the attachments often help inform – not just substantiate – the application’s narrative and budget. Additionally, some attachments take time to collect or complete. When planning the work of completing a grant application, it is advantageous to plan on completing or collecting attachments as early as possible in the process.
Some attachments you may be required to submit include:
Work Plan – If you are applying for a state or federal grant, you are usually required to complete a work plan. Depending on the agency, sometimes the work plan is a form that you must fill out and upload as an attachment, and sometimes it is integrated into the application. Regardless of the format, it can be tempting to save this for later, especially if it is only a few pages long – however, don’t do it. The work plan, often including major tasks, timelines, and deliverables, is the big picture of what you are going to do with the grant funds, and provides an excellent framework for the narrative. You will save time by developing and finalizing the work plan – what exactly you are going to do – before you start writing a long, detailed narrative. For this reason, the budget should not be an afterthought either – do you want to spend 30 hours writing the narrative for your perfect program, and then have to delete it when you put the budget together and the program is no longer financially feasible?
Resumes – Grant applications will often require resumes of key project personnel to be attached. Additionally, you may be required to provide biographies or discuss the qualifications of the key personnel directly in the narrative. Collecting resumes before or as you write the narrative will provide information for these sections.
Cost Estimates – Grant applications will sometimes require formal cost estimates to be uploaded, especially for capital projects. You may be required to submit three quotes from vendors. This demonstrates reasonableness of cost and justifies your budget. As with any attachments that require the participation of parties external to the grant team, cost estimates can take time to get and you should start as early as possible to ensure that you meet the grant requirements and that your budget is accurate.
Architectural and Engineering Plans – If you are applying for a grant for a capital project, you may be required to submit architectural and engineering plans. If you are not required to submit them but have the option to, you may consider doing so to demonstrate that the project is “shovel ready.” The plans may have written scopes of work that you can adapt language from for the narrative. Capital projects can be complex, and incorporating an architect’s or engineer’s description of what is to be built or renovated and how, rather than trying to develop your own description, can save time and provide a more detailed and industry-specific project description than you may be able to write yourself if you are not an expert in these fields.
Revising your attachment completion strategy yet?
Join Diane for How to Knock Your Grantmaker’s Socks Off on CharityHowTo to learn more about the nuts and bolts of how reviewers are using the elements beyond your narrative and budget to judge your application.
And be sure to check back next week as we discuss more even more attachments that you may encounter!