The purpose of a submission is to convince the grant-maker that your proposal fits within their remit and that the results will justify their financial investment.
You need to convince the grant-maker that what you propose will improve the current situation, so you need to keep in mind both the funding guidelines and the impact you are trying to have as you write your submission.
- Plan in advance – you should always have a list of programs that you want funded (problems, solution options, possible funding sources, potential partners, cost, timing) – make sure these programs have the support of your constituents
- Build a relationship with the grant-maker – phone the contact officer, explain your project, make sure you meet the guidelines, ask credible questions (eg, we normally cost volunteers at $30.00 an hour – is that OK with you?)
- Do your homework – try to find out as much as possible about the grant-maker (website, annual report, Board Members) – what groups or programs have been successful previously?
- Read the guidelines carefully – highlight the language the grant-maker uses so that you can use it in your submission
- If the grant-maker does not provide a template, structure your submission clearly – summary, context, purpose, constituency engagement, process and schedule, benefits, costs, budget, sustainability, performance framework, reporting, risks – put as much detail into attachments
- Brainstorm your ideas against the submission structure with your closest stakeholders – two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two, etc – but be very mindful of the deadline
- Help the grant-maker see what you see, and feel what you feel – help them to feel your emotions be they pain, joy, delight or whatever
- Strengthen your submission through partnerships – many grant-makers like to see partnerships or collaborations with like-minded groups – with whom could you partner?
- Make sure you have access to the best information available – you might use ABS statistics or correspondence from your constituents – but don’t expect to have everything you need – if you have to make assumptions, state them
- Tailor your submission to the funding guidelines – don’t resubmit an old submission to save time – it is surprising how many references to the old grant-maker may be inadvertently left in the text
- Make sure your budget is complete – you don’t want to find yourself financially worse off because you failed to consider the cost of getting a pamphlet printed, or the full cost of an overnight trip
- Be realistic with time, cost and your ability to deliver – don’t over-promise – most grant-makers have a good idea how much things cost and how long they take to complete – it is best to under-promise and over-deliver
- Provide a performance framework for the proposed program – think of both quantitative and qualitative indicators and measures – eg, improvements in knowledge, attitude, behaviour or quality of life for your constituents
- Provide a one-page summary at the front of your submission – who are you, contact details, what do you want to do for who, why, where, when, and how much is it going to cost
- Always have someone read your submission before you submit it – check readability, logic, spelling, grammar, budget calculations and formatting – make sure you meet any requirements on words or size – if you can afford it, a professional editor such as Chris Pirie and a document production expert such as Debbie Phillips are immensely valuable
- Submit your submission to the grant-maker on time – late submissions are only reluctantly accepted when you have a damned good reason
- Learn from your grant-writing experiences – if your submission is not successful, seek feedback from the grant-maker about why it was not successful and how you could improve future submissions
- Thank the grant-maker if you are successful – invite them to functions, put their logo in your newsletter, and report your progress regularly – politicians and businesses love media opportunities
- And thank the grant-maker if you are unsuccessful – invite them to functions, send them your newsletter, and stay in touch with them – it’s all about building and maintaining relationships.
If you think we can help you, when you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen – so contact the Hub!