Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Standard Elements of a Grant Proposal: You Only Get One Chance to Make a Great First Impression

We did not spend too much time underground during our recent workshop in Egypt. In this photo, I think you will see we are happy to get back to the fresh air. Likewise, the "standard" elements of a grant proposal take on a whole new importance if you appreciate how little time your application will actually get from the funder. Earlier, I covered the cover letter, introduction, and background. Here's what's next:

Organizational History. In a short statement, describe your organization, its background, its mission statement and, if appropriate, your organizational status as a nonprofit charity. I think it is a good idea to discuss all the different awards your agency has won. I like to sell and market here by stressing your central theme.

Objectives. This section of your proposal should explain what you plan to achieve through your project. Describe a broad general goal and then four to six specific objectives. The general goal should describe what impact you believe the proposed project will have on clients in the community. Objectives need to have a quantifiable deliverable and a due date. Goals, on the other hand, are more general ideals that may or may not be fully realized.

Plan of Operation. The plan of operation, or project description, should detail the specific steps the organization will take in developing and implementing the project. Be sure to include a timeline that indicates when you expect to accomplish each of the objectives you described in the plan. This is also a good place to describe the skills and qualifications of key staff members who will be working on the project, and to describe how you will work with other organizations in the community.

By the way, a "project" is a short-term activity that will come to an end in a number of years, a "program" is an enduring feature of your agency which should go on forever - in a sense.

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