Friday, January 7, 2011

5 Mistakes that Can Lose Millions of Dollars in Grant Applications

A grant writer today has a slim margin for error in their work. Most grant competitions are scored on 100 point scales and rarely do grants scoring below 90 ever get funded. More commonly, you must be near perfect, and if there are extra points for competitive priorities you have to earn those as well to get any funding.

Mistakes are not going to earn your agency a grant so you’ll want to avoid these five.
Mistake 1Poor planning with the client or by the agency. The finest grant writer in the world can’t write a convincing program narrative for a client who refuses to sufficiently plan the application. There are many details a grant writer needs from the people "on the ground." When data and information is requested by a grant writer, it’s best to get it to the writer as soon as possible since lacking information may be holding up the writing process.

Mistake 2Trying to fit a round program into a square grant. In other words, if your mission does not fit the purpose of the grant, don’t try to convince the funding source that it does. A grant maker whose mission is whales isn’t likely to give a tuna grant a sandwich.

Mistake 3Hiring a grant writer based on lowest bid. In grant writing, as in buying watches, you get what you pay for. Buying a Rolex in Times Square from a guy in a trench coat for $30 means you’re getting a $5 knock-off, not a Rolex. If you employ a grant writer at bargain basement rates, you’re likely to get bargain basement services. Always choose to go with writers who can verify their success.

Mistake 4Cursory reading of the Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP is the grant application instruction packet. This document will be used as the training outline for the grant readers. It contains most – not always all – the information you need to know to construct a fundable proposal. Never underestimate the importance of reading the RFP twice.

Mistake 5Lack of organization in proposal development. Always develop an outline based on the RFP that includes every required document, form, attachment, and appendix. Use this outline to compile the application and it should serve as a check-off list as the final document is put together.

Grant competitions are receiving more grant applications than ever due to the economic downturn so grant writers and agencies seeking grants must do everything within their power to submit flawless applications. Scoring in the top 5% - 10% or higher among the submitted proposals is mission critical in grant writing so grant development must be carefully executed to avoid these five mistakes.

Come back tomorrow to read about five more mistakes to avoid.

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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.