The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase

The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase is an online resource aiding education professionals in their pursuit of public and private grants to support local programs. Its five elements contain information and resources that assist the grant seeker with developing their project, writing the grant proposal and managing the grant upon its award.

Element 1: Assess Organizational Needs and Basis for Desired Funding

Purpose: Writing a successful grant application begins with understanding the reason for seeking grant funding from a governmental agency or private foundation. If the grant seeker is a school, the organizational assessment undertaken for improvement planning may provide useful reasons for the desired funding.

The grant seekers organizational assessment must address the subject area the funding organization has an interest in supporting. In regards to a governmental grant proposal, the assessment must address the request for proposal's focus.

Element 1 outlines the tasks involved in creating an organizational assessment.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your Organization

Activity 2: Identify Broad Areas in Need of Improvement

Element 2: Outline the Project Ideas

Purpose: Developing innovative grant ideas that fulfill organizational needs is essential in a successful grant application. The successful grant application will be one that effectively matches the grant seeker's project ideas with the grant funder's interests or programmatic focus!

Activity 1: Create a Project Team

Activity 2: Conceptualize Project

Task 1: Establish Contact with Funding Source


Guideline: Prior to proceeding with the grant proposal, the grant seeker should initiate contact with the funding source to identify requirements, resolve questions, and begin to develop a level of rapport with the funder's project lead. Doing so, enhances the prospects of submitting a successful grant proposal.

Contact with a Governmental Agency

Seekers of governmental grants may have questions about the proposal guidelines, grant schedules, and details about the grant being sought. This checklist delineates reasons and means to contact an agency and the information generally sought.


Questions for Past Grantees

When gathering information about a potential funding source, it is helpful to contact past grantees to discover what made them successful. This list of seven questions will serve as a starting point in the discussion with past grantees.


Questions for Past Reviewers

One strategy for learning more about a funding source is to contact past proposals reviewers about the review process. This list of questions could be used when interviewing reviewers to tailor the proposal to the grant funder's requirements.


Questions for the Program Officer

Contacting a potential funding source helps the grant seeker determine what the funding source is looking for in a proposal and how you can tailor their proposal to better meet those requirements. This checklist provides questions to ask the program officer.

Can We Talk? Contacting Grant Program Officers

This article authored by the University of Tennessee's Director of Research Development Robert Porter, Ph.D., explores the importance of developing relationships with sponsored research program officers. Though the article's focus is on contact with federal agencies funding sponsored research, all grant seekers may find its content useful. Particularly useful may be a sample approach to contacting program officers.


Grantmaking at ED

This U.S. Department of Education document answers questions about the discretionary grants process.

Element 3: Organize for Action

Purpose: Prior to writing the grant application, the project lead should pre-plan how the application will be developed, a timeline for completing it, and an internal review process for the application. Element 3 outlines the steps in creating a road map for the application process.

Activity 1: Understand the Grant Requirements

Activity 2: Plan to Act

Element 4: Develop and Submit the Grant Proposal

Purpose: The grant proposal brings life to the project idea. It is the vehicle the grant seeker uses to sell their idea to the prospective funding sources. Element 4 outlines the steps to develop and submit a successful grant application. Once the application has been submitted, follow-up with the funder is essential.

Activity 1: Develop the Project Plan

Activity 2: Commit the Proposal to Paper

Activity 3: Review and Finalize the Proposal

Element 5: Implement the Grant

Purpose: Upon receiving the grant award it is necessary to have a process in place for administering and managing the grant. Element 5 outlines the steps involved with implementing the project and fulfilling the grant's administrative requirements.

Activity 1: Administer and Manage the Grant

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Project Outcomes