Seven Qualities of Excellent Grant Proposals

By | January 3, 2014

Seven Qualities of Excellent Grant Proposals

There are literally dozens of books and articles (okay, perhaps hundreds) written about how to write excellent grant proposals.  They walk you through the technical components of the application: need statement, SMART goals and objectives, budget narratives, and the rest. They deal with the more precise aspects of the grant writing process.

Understanding and mastering these components is critical to your long term success in grant seeking.  However, once the technical understanding of grant application components is accomplished, I strongly believe it is time to focus on enhancing the craft of grant writing. It is time to now focus and improve on how you tell the story of your organization and proposed program or project within your proposal narrative, cover letter, and letter of inquiry.

I also believe that there is always room for improvement regardless of how long you have been a grant professional. Particularly in the age of online application forms with extremely short character or word counts, expressing the traits outlined below within such tight parameters pose a challenge for even the most seasoned grant professional.

I also believe that there is always room for improvement regardless
of how long you have been a grant professional.

As you focus your efforts on editing the first draft of your next grant proposal, consider how reviewers would rate each of the qualities listed below. Then go back and edit with them in mind.  Below I outline questions to consider for each of the seven qualities of a proposal that if mastered, will land you in the stack of excellent funded grant proposals during the next grant application review.

1. Energy!

Does your proposal convey not just a clear understanding of the need your proposal seeks to address, but does it also convey your/your organization’s passion and energy for the program?

2. Expertise

Have you clearly expressed your organization’s authority on the subject matter related to the proposed program or project?  Have you demonstrated not just an understanding of the need for your proposed program, but also for the other models available that could potentially address the program, and articulated your expert opinion for choosing the proposed model?

3. Commitment

Does your proposal convey a clear commitment to the proposed program?  While funding is required for the proposed proposal or project, is your organization’s commitment to the proposal shown to be a critical component of achieving your strategic plan?

4. Clarity

Is it clear to the potential funder what impact your specific program or project will have?  Is it clear how their grant funds will impact the proposed program?  Are there are any assumptions of knowledge in the proposal that would leave a potential funder with questions about the program design or anticipated impact?

5. Collaboration

Have you considered all forms of potential collaboration to benefit your proposed program or project?  If there are similar organizations or services in the community or region have you addressed any potential duplication?

6. Comprehensiveness

Have you addressed all aspects of the proposed program or project?  Have you discussed common barriers to participation for your target population?  Does your staffing model match the level of services required to achieve the SMART goals and objectives of the proposal?

7. Effectiveness

Are you articulating your definition of success?  And are you sufficiently addressing how you plan to measure, monitor and analyze your progress toward achieving that success?  Do you have the capacity to manage that process?

While meeting all of these qualities in one proposal can be daunting, at first, slowly tackling each quality within your editing process. Challenging yourself as a grant professional will ultimately make the crafting of a grant proposal with all of these qualities automatic, just as crafting a well-cited need statement is now second nature.

Photo credit: Horia Varlan via photopin cc

Category: Articles Grants Philanthropy Professional Development Tags: ,

About Diane H. Leonard, GPC

Diane H. Leonard, GPC, is a certified grant professional who has provided grant development counsel to nonprofit organizations of varying size and scope for more than a decade. Clients she serves include health care providers, advocacy organizations, social services agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and municipal corporations. Diane founded DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC in 2006 and she and her team have secured millions of dollars in competitive grant funds for its clients from the federal government, state and local governments, and private foundations.

One thought on “Seven Qualities of Excellent Grant Proposals

  1. Michelle Nusum-Smith

    Excellent article, Diane! Sharing it with my connections!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *