The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase

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

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

Task 1: Identify Needs

Guideline: The project idea must have a direct connection to the needs identified through the organizational assessment. As the project plan is developed it should address the identified needs. A successful grant proposal will state a need and how it will be addressed. It is critically important the project idea matches the organization's identified needs and the grant funders' requirements.

Each funding proposal competes against many projects with equally critical needs. The grant seeker should consider these questions when formulating the project need statement. Why should the project be funded over the competition? What makes the project stand out? What is the emotion within the project when blended with the facts will sell the project? What would be the "gotcha" statement convincing a reviewer to fund the project?

Educational Needs Index

This link is to the Educational Needs Index website. As noted at the website, "The Educational Needs Index (ENI) is a study of educational, economic, and population pressures that influence educational policy and planning." Grant seekers may find this website useful when identifying local educational needs.

Conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

This tool from the U.S. Department of Education's An Idea Book for Planning is useful for managing the data collected during the needs assessment. It consists of two parts: Data Sources Matrix and Data Collection and Analysis Plan.

"The Data Sources Matrix helps organize needs assessment data collection by identifying information sources and methods of data collection. In the matrix, fill specific sources of information you already have on hand from the school profile (e.g., student achievement data, results from a parent survey with results that are pertinent to the planning effort) so you do not duplicate efforts. Then, list any additional information the team decides to collect. Examine each focus area to make sure that there are data describing the status of major aspects of the priority focus areas."

"The Data Collection and Analysis Plan prioritizes the "focus areas" for which data will be collected and it lays out the data collection and analysis plans. First, define the team's key questions, the data collection methods (i.e., surveys, interviews, focus groups, shadowing, etc.), instruments to be used by analysis subcommittee members, and summarize the plans for analysis. List two to three "focus areas" the team plans to study in order of highest (#1) to lowest priority for data gathering. Respond to the questions for each focus area."

Alternate format: PDF

Needs Assessment

The needs assessment is one of four key parts of project proposal. This document identifies the four components of a needs assessment and what it should address.

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