Last week, we introduced the first four sections of a grant template you can use when funders don’t have a specific application or format to follow. A standard grant template includes eight basic sections:
- Cover letter
- Executive summary
- Needs statement
- Goals and objectives
- Methods and strategies
- Evaluation plan
- Organizational history and partnerships
The sections don’t necessarily need to be in this order, but it makes logical sense to us. This week, we’ll go into more detail about the second half of the template, starting with section 5: Methods and Strategies.
5. Methods and Strategies
Think of this as the heart of your proposal. You’ve grabbed the reader’s attention in the earlier sections. Now tell them how you’re going to do it.
Because you need to go into detail here, this will probably be your longest section. Focus on providing a comprehensive explanation. Brevity is not the way to go.
Offer detailed information about your plan. Outline the steps, strategies and timeline for implementation. Here are some things to consider including:
- A full explanation of your program, including visuals, charts, graphs, photos, etc.
- A listing of who will be involved in the project. Explain each person’s role.
- A description of any partnerships with other nonprofits, businesses, governing agencies, etc.
- A detailed timeline that outlines when the various project components will be implemented.
This is your chance to fully outline your plan to a funder. Tell them anything that will build credibility and show you’ve got a fully fleshed out plan that will impact the goals and strategies you identified in the previous section.
6. Evaluation Plan
Don’t overlook the importance of a well-defined evaluation plan. This is where you’ll link the outcomes you expect to the funder’s goals. Doing so will show how your project addresses the societal issues the funder as identified as areas of focus. It will provide the funder a way to judge the project’s success.
This section should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures. Quantitative measures show the hard numbers; qualitative reflect opinions of your service. Think of it like this. It’s great that your food pantry distributed seven tons of food last month. But if all seven tons were canned green beans, recipients probably weren’t very satisfied. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your quantitative and qualitative impact.
Your team must develop ways of measuring your program’s success throughout the life of the program. Don’t just include estimated figures for your completed project. Include interim estimates, too. For example, “Six months after launch, we will have served XXX people. After a year, the number will increase to XXX. By the end of the project, we will have served XXX.”
A strong evaluation plan will guide your team as the project goes along. If results aren’t aligned with your estimates, you can adjust strategies to address problem areas.
Any funder expects to see a well-organized program budget in a grant application. It will need to include everything required to affect the objectives you identified.
It may include line items such as:
- Personnel costs
- Fringe benefits for staff
- Equipment and supplies costs
- Indirect or overhead costs
- Travel and/or training cost
Some funders require more detailed information than others, so double check requirements before creating your budget.
Your estimates need to be justifiable and based in reality. That means you need to get quotes for equipment, travel or anything else you need to purchase. Include the specific salary of any personnel you’ll hire. Ballpark estimates don’t work for a couple of reasons. First you may not secure enough funding to cover the project. Second, your organization might look unprofessional, or worse, appear to be padding estimates in an attempt to secure more funding.
You’ll also need to include explanations for any other funding sources that will be used for your project. The funder will want to know about other grants, donations, fundraisers or other funding sources that will go toward your project.
8. Organizational history and partnerships
In this section, you’ll outline your organizational history and give the funder a better sense of who you are. Understanding how your project fits into the broader context of your mission could become a deciding factor in the grant program officer’s final decision, especially if there are several highly relevant proposals in consideration. Essentially, you want to prove that your organization is the most qualified to do this project
Include the following information in this section:
- A history of your organization and its evolution
- A list of your past projects and initiatives
- Short bios of the organization’s leaders and key staff
- A list of board members
- Details about your past experience managing grant funding
Discussing your team’s qualifications humanizes the application and shows your organization’s competence. It’s a good way to help the funder see your organization as team working toward bettering the community instead of mere words on paper.
Don’t be intimidated by grants
Writing a grant proposal from scratch can be intimidating. If you don’t know where to start, look to these eight sections for a generic grant template. You might need to adapt some to meet your organization or the funder’s requirements, but you should be prepared to tackle just about any grant proposal using this formula.
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