Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are You Completing Grant Applications Correctly?

I wouldn’t say there’s an art to completing grant applications, but there is a set of skills involved.  There are also correct ways to fill out grant applications and ways that are simply wrong.

First, you should read all the directions provided with an application before you begin. The directions may tell you that you have to apply online, use a certain font, use a certain type size, or have the application postmarked by a certain date. If you fail to follow any of the directions given for completing the application, your application will be disqualified and all your work done for nothing. You have to be sure you follow all the directions to the letter.

As you fill out your application, you should remember that each grantor has a motive for giving grants. It may be helping students from low socio-economic backgrounds to read better, making sure students know how to improve the environment, or helping students appreciate art and music more.  Whatever their reason for giving, the closer you match the program you are trying to implement to that motive, the greater your chance of winning the grant money. You want to let them know that you want to join their team and influence students the way they want them influenced. This is not a bad thing. Your application should just reflect that your philosophy matches theirs, and that’s why you’re completing the application.

Next, you need to complete every section of an application.  It doesn’t matter if it has four parts or twenty-four parts. You need to complete each one. Most of the applications that you complete will be for competitive grants. That usually means that each application is scored by the grant readers, and each section is given a point value. If you fail to complete a section or two, you may eliminate yourself from the competition. The winning grants may receive scores of 95 or above. If you failed to complete two sections worth five points each, you couldn’t possibly get a score above 90, thus eliminating you from the competition.

Each grant is competitive. Each section has a point value. The best advice I can give is for you to complete each part in the application as if were the only part. In other words, you have to do your very best on every section in order to get as many points as possible on every section. If you will approach the application in this way, you are much more likely to win grant money. 

Many people completing the application will not approach it in this fashion. They will expend less effort on sections they feel are less important. That will give you a distinct advantage. Each time a competitor skips a section or completes it in a half-hearted manner, you will gain points.

Most applications are not that difficult to complete. Follow directions carefully. Match your grant program to the philosophy of the grantor. Complete each section of the application as if it were the only section. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll win more than your share of grant money.


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