Grant Writing

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					Grant Writing 101:
  Guidelines for Writing
  Competitive Grants

     March 3rd, 2011
  9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
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   Today‟s Presenter

        Lindsay Miller, BS
Discretionary Grants Coordinator
  Community Health Consultant
Iowa Department of Public Health
    Bureau of Family Health
         Keys for Success
• Start Early
• Time Management
• Read & Re-Read the RFP/Guidance
• Follow the Instructions Explicitly
• Use the Verbiage from the Guidance
• Marketing Your Proposal is just as
          Grant Writing = Strategy
• Grant writing is about strategy
  – For choosing grants
     • Decision Matrix
  – For planning
     • Partners to bring in
  – For writing
     • Timelines, Reviewers
  – For thinking about implementation
     • Need, Capacity, Service Delivery
       Steps in the Grant Process
1.   Choosing an appropriate grant
2.   Planning for a grant
3.   Writing a grant application
4.   Internal review and grant submission
5.   Post submittal activities
  Questions to consider when
 choosing an appropriate grant
1. Why do you want to apply for funding?
    What are your needs? Supplies?, Staff?, Expanding
    services into other counties?
2. Does the purpose of the grant fit with your
   agency‟s strategic plan?
3. Do we have the capacity and time to prepare a
   competitive grant application?
4. Do we have the capacity to administer the grant
5. What are our chances of getting funded?
                   Logic Model

Inputs  Activities  Outputs  Outcomes  Impact

•   Inputs: What you invest
•   Activities: What you do
•   Outputs: What occurred; data-driven results
•   Outcomes: Short-term & Long-term Outcomes;
     e.g. changes in behavior
•   Impact: Overall goal, e.g. improved health
Logic Model Example
        Finding funding opportunities

     Public Sources            Private Sources
Federal Government (e.g.,   National Foundations (e.g.,
CDC, HRSA, ACF, SAMHSA)     Robert Wood Johnson,              March of Dimes)

State Government (DPH,      Regional and Local
DOE, DHS, DHR)              Foundations
                            (e.g.,Wellmark Foundation)
Local (County BOH,          Private Industry
           Funding (continued)
  – Make sure you are eligible
  – Get copies of previously funded grants
  – Research the organization – especially foundations
Key Relationships
  – Build relationships with funders
  – Talk to the grant officer from the funding organization
  – If you know previous/current grantees, talk to them
    about their experience
       Steps in the Grant Process
1.   Choosing an appropriate grant
2.   Planning for a grant
3.   Writing a grant application
4.   Internal review and grant submission
5.   Post submittal activities
         Pre-planning Steps
1. Complete a timetable of activities
  – Work backwards from due date
2. Conduct research
  – Find out about the guidance ahead of time
  – Find and read documents related to the
    topic (e.g., professional articles, other grant
  – Talk to previous/current grantees
            Pre-planning Steps
3. Submit letter of intent (if applicable)
4. Identify relevant data
  – Potential sources:
     • US Census
     • State library
     • Organizational/internal data sources
          Pre-planning Steps
5. Assemble core grant team
  – Team member roles may include: a team
    leader, writer(s), content experts,
    budget/financial person, data person,
    representatives from partnering agencies
  – Determine responsibilities including
    expectations and time commitment
               Pre-planning Steps
6. Collaborate - Who needs to be at the table?
    –   Level of involvement
    –   Checklist of individuals by category including
        internal and external partners
7. Schedule planning meetings
    –   Purpose – fact finding, solicit support, generate
        ideas and/or get feedback

   Tip: Schedule all meetings at the beginning of the project so team
    members have dates on their calendars.
           Pre-planning Steps
8. Read the guidance
  – Contact the grant officer if there are any
    points you need clarified.
9. Review the criteria
  – Review criteria is often part of the guidance. If
    it‟s not, ask the grant officer if you can get a
    copy of the scoring criteria.
A.   Identifying the problem/need
B.   Determining goals, objectives, activities
C.   Developing a work plan
D.   Developing a budget
        Planning (continued)
A. Identifying the problem/need
  – “Problem” may be defined for you and
    specific to a certain population or issue.
  – Some funders (e.g., foundations) have
    broad priorities and often multiple priorities.
  – Process for defining the problem should be
    data driven. Data should reveal the extent
    of the problem as well as the focus of the
    solutions to rectify it.
         Planning (continued)
A. Identifying the problem/need (continued)
Questions to consider if you are
    addressing systems and infrastructure
  a) What works well about the current system and what
     strengths can you build on?
  b) What doesn‟t work well about the current system
     and where and what are the gaps that need to be
  c) If there has been a previous focus on the problem,
     what are the lessons learned and what still needs to
     be improved?
         Planning (continued)
B. Determining goals, objectives and
  1. Use your planning team to brainstorm and hammer
     out the details
  2. Designate individuals to fill the following roles:
        •   Facilitator – to facilitate discussion, keep the group on
            task and to move the thinking process along
        •   Note taker – to take notes on flip a chart or proxima
        •   Writer (usually principal writer) to rewrite and refine the
            goals between planning meetings
        Planning (continued)
B. Determining goals, objectives and
  Process (continued)
  3. Provide team/partners time between
    meetings to give feedback on draft goals,
    objectives and activities.
  4. Include budget person – budget will focus on
    resources needed to carry out the project
Goals should be:
• Based on grant guidance
• A response to the problem(s) identified
• Snapshot of the end
• Not timeframed or measurable
• Global
                    Examples of Goals
 Expand access to high quality family planning services
  for low-income persons in Iowa
 Increase awareness of and access to long-acting
  reversible contraceptives (LARCs)
Objectives should be:
• Measurable actions taken to accomplish
  the goals
• More specific than goals
• SMART (specific, measurable, achievable,
  relevant and timeframed)
       OBJECTIVES (continued)
Potential challenges of developing
• How specific should you be?
• How do you distinguish objectives from
• What is your hierarchy of thinking (i.e.,
  how global are your goals to start with)
  and what is requested in the grant
      OBJECTIVES (continued)
Examples of objectives:
  – By September 30, 2011, provide culturally
    and developmentally appropriate family
    planning services to minority populations.
  – By September 30, 2011, develop and
    implement an outreach project targeting
    males and using social networking media.
Activities are:
  • Specific tasks completed to carry out
  • What you are going to do and how you are
    going to do it
  • The basis of your work plan, timeline and
        Activities (continued)
Examples of activities:
  – Develop a consumer education packet
  – Conduct a survey of Iowa universities and
    colleges to determine which institutions
    address home visiting in majors related to
    health care.
  – Host a youth summit to explore collaborative
    efforts that support legislation to improve
    funding for screening and treatment of STIs.
         Planning (continued)
C. Developing a work plan
• Developed after goals, objectives and activities
   are finalized
• Includes a timeline for completing activities
• Identifies who is responsible for what activities
• Identifies how activities will be measured
D. Developing a budget
• Should be initiated/drafted at same time as
   goals, objectives and activities are developed
• Should align with grant goals
Questions to consider:
• What is it going to cost to do all the
• Are the activities feasible with the funding
  that is available?
• Are matching funds required? If so, how
  will you obtain the match?
          Budget (continued)
•   Use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for your
    preliminary budget then transfer into whatever
    format the guidance requires.
•   Check the guidance carefully for instructions
    on the budget.
•   Place items under the correct line item as
    specified by the guidance (i.e., computers are
    often supplies rather than equipment.)
•   Be sure to include required items such as
    travel to required meetings.
         Budget (continued)
• Work with your finance staff to obtain
  salary projections and standard agency
• Include indirect costs if allowed (based on
  guidance or your agency‟s federally
  approved indirect rate agreement.)
• Expect to revise the budget several times.
• If it‟s in the budget, it needs to be in the
  narrative (and vice versa).
       Steps in the Grant Process
1.   Choosing an appropriate grant
2.   Planning for a grant
3.   Writing a grant application
4.   Internal review and grant submission
5.   Post submittal activities
           Grant Writing Tips
• The funder gets to set the rules: follow directions
  in the guidance.
• Use the funder‟s language; go through the
  guidance and highlight frequently used words.
  The language in the guidance or RFP is a guide
  to the funder‟s jargon.
• Don‟t use words or phrases that the reader is not
  going to understand. Quote from Ron Mirr: “This
  is not an academic exercise, it‟s a sales pitch.”
• Keep it simple for the reader.
      Writing Tips (continued)
• You want the reader to understand your
  proposal, be excited about your proposal, and
  be convinced that you can do what you propose.
• Analyze your reader; know your audience. A
  federal grant may have a different feel than a
  foundation grant.
• Draft an outline or logic model before you start
• Use active voice - it is less wordy and more
  direct than passive voice. It is easy to fall into
  passive voice especially with federal grants
  because their language is generally passive.
        Writing Tips (continued)
• Use first person; the trend is to move away from third
  person, make it more connected to the reader (e.g., our
  strategy, we propose).
• Make a list of the terms you are going to use in the grant
  and decide how you will refer to them to assure
  consistency. This is especially important if you are using
  multiple writers.
• UAWC (Use Abbreviations With Caution)!!!! Spell out the
  first time on each page. Consider including a glossary of
• Editing is crucial. It is important to accept feedback on
  your writing; it can be humbling at times but remember
  this is a team effort and you are trying to produce the
  best possible product for your organization.
       Writing Tips (continued)
• If there are multiple writers, have an editor blend
  sections so the document has one voice.
• Have multiple people read it, and read it and
  read it again. There is always one more mistake
  or typo to be found.
• Don‟t exceed page limits. You may have to use
  “tricks” such as condensing type or reducing font
  size, if possible, to comply with the page
• Most important to remember: convey your
  excitement about the proposal, tell and sell your
      Grant Sections (continued)
Common grant sections:
1. Problem/Need
2. Program Plan
3. Methodology
4. Evaluation
5. Organizational Capacity
6. Appendices
       Grant Sections (continued)
1. Problem/Need
  – A snapshot of the current situation.
  – Use data to tell your story and identify gaps.
    Reference data sources whenever possible.
  – This section may include a discussion about
    the purpose of the project.
      Grant Sections (continued)
2. Program Plan
  – Discuss goals, objectives and activities.
  – Discuss how your project will address the
    problems you identified in the Problem/Need
  – Sometimes this section will include the work
    plan (or reference to the work plan as an
      Grant Sections (continued)
3. Methodology
  – “how” you will go about completing the grant
  – “who” will be responsible for what
  – How you will involve your partners
  – What formal mechanisms you will use
    (advisory groups)
      Grant Sections (continued)
4. Evaluation
  – Discuss how you will know you have achieved
    your results.
  – Include the data collection and analysis
    methods you will use to measure your results.
  – State who will be responsible for the
    evaluation process (e.g., contract with an
    outside evaluator).
      Grant Sections (continued)
5. Organizational Capacity
  – This is where you SELL yourself (i.e.,
    credibility, previous grant experience, ability to
    complete the grant activities and capacity to
    administer the grant).
  – Cite previous successful projects, grants and
     Grant Sections (continued)
6. Appendices
  – May be required or strongly recommended
  – Used to supplement NOT replace the
  – May include organization charts, biosketches,
    job descriptions, and letters of support.
      Grant Sections (continued)
The Abstract:
• Is VERY important for the review process.
  Some reviewers only see the abstract.
• Gives the reader a detailed overview of
  the entire project.
• Has limited space so every word of every
  sentence counts.
• Is generally written last, but be sure to
  allow ample time for quality work.
      Grant Sections (continued)
Required Forms
 The guidance will either provide the
 required forms or tell you where you can
 access them. You may have to reproduce
 some forms.
DUNS number – If you are applying for a
 federal grant, your organization must have
 (or request) a DUNS number.
       Steps in the Grant Process
1.   Choosing an appropriate grant
2.   Planning for a grant
3.   Writing a grant application
4.   Internal review and grant submission
5.   Post submittal activities
           Internal Review
• Follow your organization‟s process for
  review (e.g., management‟s review/sign
• Solicit peer reviewers.
• Give reviewers adequate time to review
  and provide feedback AND allow ample
  time to incorporate recommendations.
• Reviewers should read the guidance prior
  to reviewing your proposal.
          Grant Submission
Electronic (email or via the Web)
  – May be emailed to the funder (e.g.,
  – May be submitted via the Internet (e.g.,
    federal grants submitted to
Hard copy
  – May be the only submission route or may be
    provided in addition to an electronic version
    (or not at all).
       Steps in the Grant Process
1.   Choosing an appropriate grant
2.   Planning for a grant
3.   Writing a grant application
4.   Internal review and grant submission
5.   Post submittal activities
            Post Submittal
WELL DONE! Take a deep breath and
 congratulate yourself…you‟re almost
Post submittal activities include:
Distribute copies of the grant to team
 members, partners as applicable.
Clean up hard files and electronic files.
 Discard old drafts and clearly label current
 items – including the FINAL documents.

Gelhaus, Martha (2004). Grant Manual, Bureau of Family
  Health. Iowa Department of Public Health.

Mirr, Ron (2001). Training Manual: Program Development,
  Grant Writing and Grant Management. The Higher Plain,

Mirr, Ron (2010). Program Development and Grant Writing
  Presentation at Eyes Open Iowa Pre-Conference

Monsma, Alison (2009). Grant Writing Overview, Bureau of
  Family Health. Iowa Department of Public Health.
      Contact Information

Lindsay Miller, BS | Discretionary Grants
  Coordinator, Community Health Consultant
  | Iowa Department of Public Health |
   P: 515.281.7368 | F: 515.242.6013 | |
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