Developing a Grant proposal By P.E.4LIFE™
Creating a grant proposal requires a substantial investment of time and effort. To be successful, you must
- plan the proposal carefully and thoughtfully
- prepare the package thoroughly
- communicate concisely
In this section, we briefly summarize the essential steps and components of a successful grant proposal. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (www.cfda.gov) Web site section titled "Developing and Writing Grant Proposals" offers additional information. If you are a novice to the process, or have not as yet succeeded in securing grant funding, you may also find it helpful to attend a grant-writing workshop.
As with any project you are developing, a plan of action can help guide you as efficiently and effectively as possible toward implementation.
Create a committee representing the potential benefactors of the grant monies-for example, school administrators, teachers (both specialists and non-specialists), parents, students, and community leaders. As a committee, follow these steps:
1. Create a mission statement for improving the physical education of the students you serve.
- Weak: To teach physical education better.
- Stronger: To develop lifelong physical activity habits by teaching students the skills and knowledge and by fostering the attitudes necessary to lead physically active lives.
2. Brainstorm specific uses of the monies, refraining from evaluating priorities at this point.
- Weak: Equipment for teaching physical education.
- Stronger: Heart rate monitors for teaching health-related fitness concepts to students and community members and for assessing student effort and application of the concept of target heart rate zones.
3. Evaluate your list, choosing the most important to supporting your mission statement (step 1).
Whether you are tapping into a local service agency's funds or applying for a federal government grant (e.g., PEP), the committee must target a specific agency to apply to. Then, you must obtain a grant application and any other related materials offered by the agency for the pertinent grant program.
It is vital that your grant proposal's claims, concerns, and needs be validated by others outside your close circle of committee members and other supporters. Seeking outside review will sharpen your awareness of potential questions the grant-making agency may raise. Including letters of support for your proposed project will give the grant-making agency a better idea of the positive impact the project may have on the people of your community.
Outside ReviewPlan on writing a minimum of at least two drafts of the grant proposal. Each draft needs to be critiqued by committee members before further revision. In addition, at least once before sending the proposal to the grant-making agency, seek the constructive feedback of a neutral third party. The reviewer(s) should be knowledgeable in the field of physical education, but, most important, the reviewer(s) must be skilled at analyzing the draft for completeness (compared to grant instructions), clarity, and soundness of reasoning.
Letters of SupportLook to your local and professional community to find prominent individuals and organizations that are willing to support your grant proposal in writing. Placed in an appendix, these letters should reveal not only how your proposal is being received but also how others perceive it will benefit a wide and deep range of people. Add these letters of support to your package.
Make sure the chief administrative personnel of your organization have signed the grant proposal wherever requested. Add a cover letter listing the items included and the person to contact with further questions. Generally, standard first class postage is acceptable and sufficient unless the grant-making agency has other guidelines. Mail the package early enough to reach its destination well before the deadline. Making the deadline may be your last chance to send the message that your proposal is the result of an organized and thoughtful effort.
This section outlines more specific tips as to what components you should actually draft for your proposal. It then outlines how you can attend to the details that may make your proposal stand out from the competition.
Parts of a Grant ProposalHere, we discuss common items requested as part of grant proposals. However, always follow the more specific guidelines providing with the grant application.
Proposal SummaryWrite two or three paragraphs outlining the proposed project. Brief is better here. It is easier to summarize after the proposal itself is drafted, so you may actually write this part last-but place it immediately under your cover letter. Or you may opt to simply place the summary in your cover letter, if this does not violate the grant proposal instructions you've received.
Introduction to Your OrganizationNext, describe your organization. Offer a brief biography of key players, such as board members. List your organization's goals, philosophy, and success stories. Offer concrete data to establish your organization's credibility.
Statement of PurposeBase your statement of purpose on a thorough needs assessment completed through both formal and informal methods. Make sure it directly relates to your proposed outcomes. State the problem, who might benefit from solving the problem, what is currently being done to solve the problem, and how the grant monies will help solve the problem better. Provide as much hard data as possible, placing extensive details (when available) in an appendix to which you refer the reader.
Objectives, Goals, Desired OutcomesWhat do you plan to accomplish? Briefly, what methods will you use to attain this? Be realistic: If you obtain grant funding, your progress will most likely be evaluated, at least in part, on your attainment of these objectives, goals, and outcomes.
Plan of ActionHere, you should explain in more detail how you expect the project to work in solving the problem you have stated. Include flow charts, specific activities and who will carry them out, how you will measure progress, and the like. Place detailed data in appendices and focus your main text on explaining your plan of action in plain language. Be sure your plan of action clearly states how the project will be innovative. Finally, the action plan should carefully justify project implementation choices based on sound economics.
Plan for EvaluationAn effective grant proposal must specify how the proposed project administrators will determine progress toward stated objectives, goals, and desired outcomes. If this cannot be done at this stage, it is wise to re-examine the purpose statement and other components of the grant proposal to ensure they are specific and measurable.
Plan for Long-Term FundingHow will you continue the project after the grant funding runs out? In other words, how will you make the program either self-sustaining or otherwise solvent long-term? Grant-making agencies want to know that lasting change is likely to result from their investment in your project. Play it safe, and never assume that funding from one source will fully fund a project.
Budget ProposedMake sure each expense listed directly relates to the proposal you've outlined. Justify every expense. Keep in mind that startup, operating, and phase-down costs are a reality. Finally, factor in a reasonable inflation rate for expenses.
Remember the saying, When all else fails, follow the directions? However, there's no time for failed initial attempts if you want the best shot at obtaining grant monies. Instead, follow each instruction to the letter. Include each item requested. Meet or beat the deadline given. Have several people double-check everything to ensure the proposal is absolutely correctly executed, according to the instructions given by the grant-making agency.
A disorganized, disheveled package full of typos may do more than suggest poor secretarial skills: It may also inadvertently suggest that a lack of project focus exists or that little care went into the research and proposal description. A neatly organized and typed proposal, however, suggests to the grant-making agency that someone cared enough to "put their best foot forward." When finalizing the proposal in the neatness department, you should also seek a qualified, experienced individual to proofread and edit for typos and grammatical errors.