Grant Writing

Individuals and organizations that write requests for grants engage in grant writing.  This involves more than merely writing.  Grant writing includes reading and understanding the grant application requirements as outline in the guidelines or federal Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).  It is a learned skill that focuses on details and clear writing that conveys technical information to grant reviewers.

Foundations often host workshops to teach organizations how to write grant proposals that meet their specifications.  If you are interested in learning how to grant write contact your local college or university which may offer a grant writing course.  The Foundation Center and other national organizations offer grant writing classes.  Several groups offer certifications in grant writing that require intensive training and involve all aspects of grant writing.

To write an effect grant request, you must have a detailed description of the need to be addressed by the grant.  This requires research and statistical analysis rather than qualitative review of data.  Your program design should be based on best practices and evidence-based activities that clearly address the need.  It must include measurable goals and objectives. The evaluation component is tied to the goals and objectives as well as whether or not the need was sufficiently addressed during program implementation.

Hiring an independent evaluator adds credibility to your evaluation and final report.  It is difficult to objectively evaluate your own project. Even having someone else within your organization cannot produce a completely unbiased project evaluation.  Your organization wants to be positioned in the most favorable light and can only do this with positive evaluations.  However, an honest formally designed and executed evaluation is more meaningful to both you and the grantor.

The budget and budget narrative can be the most challenging component of grant writing.  Costs need to be reasonable and allowable under the grant guidelines.  Including unallowable costs can cause grant requests to be denied.  Be sure to have a professional review your numbers.  This is typically done by your organization’s business office.

Learning how to grant write takes practice.  Many grant writers begin writing at the local level, submitting grant requests to community and family foundations.  Government grant writing is more difficult for several reasons.  The scope of the program design is wider for government grant programs.  You can receive more money, so you need to serve more people.  For nonprofit or community-based organizations, this can require collaboration or formal partnership with other groups.  This means coordinating information and allowing everyone to review drafts throughout the grant writing process.  Getting consensus on budget items can be difficult.  In this regard, the grant writer wears multiple hats.

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