“What are its chances?”
“Do you think it has a chance?”
I was asked these questions recently at the end of an intense, compressed application process for a competitive state grant. Undoubtedly, these questions are ruminating in grant team members’ minds often; whether or not, or how, they express them. This particular application involved a request for $500,000 and required 70 hours of my time alone, not to mention the time and tireless dedication of everyone else on the grant team in responding to requests for information, documentation, and review (which shows one end of the of “How Much Time Does It Take to Write a Grant?” spectrum).
With so much time and resources going into the grant application or proposal preparation process, not to mention the worthy projects – sometimes, someone’s hopes and dreams – riding on an application’s success, these two questions are unavoidable as we seek to assure ourselves that we have done everything that we can to secure a grant award.
Unfortunately, even a “perfect” grant application may not result in funding. Many factors impact funding decisions, and funders often receive many more well-written applications for worthy projects than they are able to fund.
*To transform the unanswerable question “What are its chances?” into a useful tool to evaluate and improve your grant application, ask yourself instead “Have we done everything that we have the power to do?”*
The best time to start asking yourself this question is before you decide to apply for the grant. Consider:
- Have your organization’s key staff relevant to the proposed project – not just the leaders, but the staff who will implement it – read and discussed the NOFA/RFP, and determined that the grant program is a good fit?
- Does the project align with the funder’s priorities and grantmaking history?
- Is your organization ready to apply for and administer a grant?
- Does your organization have the time and resources to commit to producing a competitive application?
- Are there opportunities to discuss the project with the funder?
During the grant application process and during final review, consider the following:
- Have you developed a plan to ensure that the application process proceeds strategically and effectively, ensuring that there is enough time and support to address all components?
- Have you aligned the language in the narrative to the funder’s priorities for the grant program?
- Have you revisited the NOFA/RFP to ensure that you have not missed any key details or requirements?
- Does your budget include only allowable costs?
- Do your budget, narrative, and attachments tell the same story?
- Have you taken full advantage of any opportunities to provide additional information such as letters of support, photos, previous evaluations of your program, your organization’s Annual Report, or any other optional (internally, consider “optional” to be “required”) attachments listed in the application guidance?
- Have you had a second…or third…or fourth set of eyes on the application package, such as an editor or a mock review team?
A grant professional can help you ask and answer the question “Have we done everything that we have the power to do?”
Contact our team to see how we can help you craft the most competitive proposal possible so that you feel confident in your answer each time you submit a grant about “What are its chances?”