Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eight Things a Grant Sample Can Teach You

Writing a grant is always a challenging exercise. People who aren’t grant writers always ask me if I can’t just take a previously written grant sample and rewrite it for another client. They think grant writing can be more efficient like building a successful template and then rearranging the pieces for a new competition. It sounds logical, but it simply doesn’t work.

The “bear” of grant writing is that each grant MUST be a unique creation. It is for a specific client with a specific set of needs, and those needs dictate a specific set of remedies, that are dictated by the specific talents and resources of the specific agency making the application, and on and on…

In short, there is no one-size fits all grant template. “Well,” one inquisitor pressed, “surely when it is the same grant competition for the same client, the grants must be almost identical” (after all, he was thinking, their address and phone number haven't changed). NOT necessarily so! Even the same grant competition revises the request for application (RFA) each year before it is issued to better represent the desires of the issuing agency. So no, resubmission involves a whole lot more work that merely changing the dates on an application.

So what about the title of my article and how does all this apply to grant samples? Well, the point of collecting and reading grant samples is not to copy a previously successful grant because as I’ve already stated, the formats will be different, the requirements will be different, and probably everything else you will write is going to be different.

Here are 8 things that grant samples CAN provide you that are very valuable:

  1. You can learn a lot about the style of language that is effective in your writing.
  2. You can learn ways to show data in tables and graphs that emphasize the right things.
  3. You can learn how other applicants portrayed concepts or processes in a graphic that might be useful to telling your story.
  4. You can review evaluation plans that might inform your evaluation design to make it more comprehensive.
  5. You can see how the various sections of the grant were addressed, numbers of pages used, integration of data, research cited, etc.
  6. You can learn more about the topic of the proposal including applicable research, funding statutes, applicable regulations where indicated, etc.
  7. You can learn about specific populations and regions of the country where grants are given and approaches to the grant purpose that you may not have thought of but which might be applicable to your situation.
  8. You can also learn formatting, style, tricks of word processing that save space, utilize non-narrative portions of the application to clarify and extend concepts.
There are many great benefits to reading successful grant samples and these are just a few. We work hard to collect as many grant samples for each type of competition as we can and we read through them to educate ourselves on best practices and best programs. It has been a worthwhile effort on our part as our clients can attest.

Get help with your grant writing.  Check out a grant sample or grant outline.
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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.