10 Questions You Need to Ask Before Writing a Grant Application
If you think you are ready to write your grant application, take a step back and ask yourself these 10 questions. If you can easily answer all of them, you are ready to dive into your proposal.
- Have you read the Request for Proposal?
The Request for Proposal (RFP) is your starting point. Once you find a suitable funder interested in funding your project, you need to read the RFP from beginning to end, without skipping any parts. The RFP contains crucial information, and following instructions thoroughly may determine the fate of your proposal.
- Have you really read the RFP?
Really. Read it again. Take notes.
- Is the program officer/funder engaging with you?
You want to be a good fit for the funder, but you also want the funder to be a good fit for you. It is helpful to contact the foundation or the program officer and see if you get a sense of mutual understanding. A shared enthusiasm and a connection on a personal level create a solid foundation for successful collaboration.
- Do you have a strategic plan for your proposal?
You need to put together a strategy for your proposal. How does your funding needs align with your strategy, fit into your curriculum, and support the organization’s mission? Part of writing a compelling proposal is showing the funder that you have thought everything through and that the pieces fit together seamlessly.
- Why is your project needed?
This is one of the most important questions to ask before writing the first word of your application. If you cannot give your funder a compelling argument for WHY your project needs to be funded, you may quickly get eliminated in the selection process.
- What is the significance of your project?
This is a continuation of the previous question. What impact does your project have? How does it improve your classroom? How does the school, the community, or even the entire district benefit from your project?
- What is at the heart of your proposal?
The heart consists of your basic outline for the proposal: what is your goal, how do you intend to implement and realize it, and what are the objectives? You need to conduct research and be able to define these aspects of your proposal concisely.
- What are the challenges involved?
You need to address any potential challenges to your project, as well as weaknesses. Problems with logistics might arise—are you able to manage those or are they threatening to derail your project? If you come across major obstacles without suitable solutions, you might want to hold your application until you figure out how to manage the challenges.
- How do you budget your proposal?
Almost all grant applications require a budget. It might not have to be extensive (especially if you are required to submit a preproposal), but even if you only need a rough outline of a budget for your application, you need to establish a detailed budget that you stick to. Your budget should be reasonable and consistent in order to support your overall proposal.
- If a match is required, is it in-kind or dollar-for-dollar? Are you able to provide this match?
If the funder requires a match and you do not have the funds to provide it, or if you do not know without doubt how you are going to raise these funds by the time you write your application, you might want to wait and resolve the matching issue first.