Whether you’re an experienced grant writer or new to the field, you’ll need to know how to nail your grant writing season.
Let’s take a look at a few fundamental steps to planning a successful grant writing season, which have a lot to do with project management.
1. Familiarize yourself with your deadli[es], and estimate how many hours you will need to complete the work
2. Workload should be segmented into “smart pieces” of tasks that must be accomplished (deliverables) within a certain timeline, and the parts that are crucial to the result should be highlighted (milestones). Get grant management software to make life easier!
3. Gather information about all the stakeholders and team members that will contribute to the grant proposal, and ask them ahead of time how many days they will need to complete their tasks.
4. Prepare your research: review census data/statistics on the community you serve and existing needs, along with recent papers and tools, or relevant best practices regarding the activities you conduct through your programs.
5. Organize the Notice of Funding Opportunity/RFP and all the documents and materials you will need to attach to the grant proposal in folders and/or subfolders.
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Perhaps you are also wondering at this point, “Is grant writing easy?
How long does it take to write a grant?
Does it follow a formula? “
It is not easy to write a grant because it requires a combination of creative and technical writing skills. The final product must be a competitive application that responds to specific questions or provides comprehensive responses based on the funder’s requirements.
Writing a foundation grant may require 30-50 hours, writing a state grant may require 60-80 hours, and federal grants may require at least 120 hours. It is imperative that you estimate the total amount of time required to complete the task when preparing.
It will take between 1.5 and 2 hours to study the NOFO/RFP (and you should account for this when you figure out how many pages the narrative will be), and using the knowledge that you will put in up to three hours per page (writing, editing, and proofreading).
In addition, keep in mind that you will need time to create the budget and narrative attachments (minimum 5 hours) and to assemble the required attachments (5-7 hours for letters of support, resumes, job descriptions and organizational charts, and additional hours for others).
For the review of the draft, you must estimate the proper time. If that is so, be prepared for the Executive Director or Program Staff to return a revised draft to you after a week or more.
Finally, expect to devote at least 5 hours to do your final review of the narrative and the required attachments. Do your math and find your solution!
Now let’s take a closer look and dive deeper into steps to take during the grant writing season to achieve the greatest results.
1. After you have identified the best funding opportunity for your programs, organize a planning meeting.
An agenda for the meeting should include topics such as roles, milestones and deliverables, internal deadlines for revising drafts, and preferred methods of communication.
To be a successful grant writer, you should review the funder’s guidelines throughout the grant writing season, combining them with available information (e.g. descriptions on the funder’s website, grantee’s program descriptions).
In your planning meeting, brainstorm with the team about the main components of the programs you are seeking funding for. The first steps in drawing the logic model of the project (required by many funders) will be crucial. It will illustrate the relationship between the different components of the program and show the funders how your program will result in the desired outcomes, thereby delivering a lasting change or offering a solution to a community need.
2. Prepare a work plan. It’s never easy to write a successful grant proposal on your own.
Use the appropriate tool to create the work plan after you have defined the roles and types of contributions of the team members (e.g. program staff, leadership, management, development team, and quality assurance specialist).
What must be included in the work plan?
In order to successfully meet the internal project deadlines (and funder’s deadlines), it is important to identify, specify and report who will be responsible for what.
Where will the resumes be gathered, for instance? Using what procedure will the organizational charts be created? Will anyone be reaching out to partners for letters of support and Memorandums of understanding?
No worries, there are many available templates out there that can make your life easier!
3. Writing a proposal requires creating and updating proposal content, which is the core of grant writing during the writing season. It is time for you to put your skills to work and develop your proposal content!
As grant writers, we are most inspired by the mission and programs of the nonprofit and our commitment to it. However, these passions also need to be compatible with the requirements of the funders.
There are usually set questions that must be answered (sections of a grant application) for federal, government, and foundation grants.
These can be summed up as follows:
Does a solution to the current problems exist?
Are you able to provide relevant data to support your claims?
Describe your program’s approach to addressing the existing need.
Program outcomes: how will they be measured?
Can your nonprofit meet the need based on its experience and capabilities?
Has it previously run programs like this?
Is there a plan for how the funds will be used?
How will the expenses of the program be accounted for in your organization?
The sustainability of your program: what parts of it will remain in place even if the funding stops? What revenue diversification plans do you have?
What partnerships have you established with the community you serve?
4. Having created a good draft of your proposal content, be sure to schedule a time for internal and external review.
Make sure your internal reviewers (such as your development team, direct program staff, and Executive Director) have ample time to complete it and incorporate their feedback.
A few public organizations provide nonprofits with free grant writing reviews to boost their grant writing quality. The extra eyes reviewing your draft will pave the way to victory, but it will probably take them at least a week to do so.
5. Use support tools for the grant writing season.
Are you in need of grant writing assistance?
Many nonprofits have access to companies like ours, which provides grant tracking and grant management services during the grant writing season.
If you find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed during grant writing season, these tools can be a great help to you.
Some nonprofits wonder how hiring a grant writer works, whether they are starting up or need additional assistance during the season. Hire us and we will walk you through the entire process.
The best way to find skilled grant writers is by word of mouth: ask your colleagues if they’ve experienced a fantastic grant writer who developed successful proposals for their nonprofit.
Looking for grant application writing assistance from grantapplicationwriter.com?
1. Your grants calendar will be updated on a weekly basis with updates from grantapplicationwriter.com based on your tracker.
2. Your nonprofit’s programs and initiatives will be taken into account when you create a project on grantapplicationwriter.com. You will find opportunities that are appropriate for you to apply to.
3. Premium funders’ insights We help grant writers dig into the data trends that matter most in identifying whether a funder is a good fit. We’ll show you things like what percentage of grantees in the last three years were new grantees vs. repeat grantees.
Reports for board meetings Need a report for the next meeting? Grantapplicationwriter.com lets you create reports in seconds based on whatever project, year, or status you would like.
5. The institutional fundraising platform is GrantapplicationWriter.com, an all-in-one grant tool. Our grant tracking and management services can help you bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management together. Grant writing season can be challenging, but we hope you have found everything you need to prepare for it and that you are more knowledgeable about the tools that can make a huge difference!