To date, we have written three books about how to be successful in acquiring grants. This is our fourth book. One would think we would have exhausted the subject by now. On the contrary, the subject of grant acquisition is such a complex subject that we have more books yet to write.
There are so many different types of grants with so many different facets that one can spend a lifetime studying all the possibilities. Most people think of two things when they think of grants—either scholarships or entitlements such as Social Security. But there are so many other types. There are government grant programs for individual needs through various departments and agencies. There are small business grants and small business innovation research grants. There are research grants—probably the best-known grants. There are also project grants, which make up the bulk of grants to organizations.
Each grant maker has its individual "personality." Federal grants vary by department and agency. One might fund traditional research, while another funds wildly innovative programs. State grants can be highly political and personal. Foundations run the gamut from very hands-on to almost aloof. Corporation grants usually reflect their management and can be the toughest to get because of the many ways they can be approached.
Funders all have two things in common. Their business is investing money, and they all want to solve one or more problems. That is why they are in business—to solve problems. Some grant makers have been established by a person who experienced a life-changing event. As a result, the grant making focuses on a particular issue. Some respond to public awareness that a problem needs solving. Whatever the reason, they are all focused on one problem or another.
As grant seekers, it is our job to study the problems within our organization's mission. When we discover an unmet need for our client population, we analyze a possible solution. Our solution requires action— as such it is a project. A project is an undertaking made up of activities leading to a positive conclusion. Once we have projects developed, then we search for funders wanting to solve the same problems. The connection with the funder is the desire to solve the same problem.
The way we tell the funder about our project is through a proposal. In fundraising, we might send letters to a thousand people or organizations requesting donations. That is not the way the world of grants works. With grants, you write an individual proposal to an individual funder. You follow the funder's directions for writing that proposal to the letter.
Many people make the mistake of writing a single proposal, getting a list of names and addresses, and sending that proposal around. Then they wonder why they never get funding. They only think they are writing a grant proposal. Funders disregard such proposals as "non-responsive." Those people have not understood about the investment the funder is trying to make in a project that will solve the problem in which they are interested.
Grant seeking is 80% project development, research, and positioning. The rest is writing. One should never write the first line of a proposal until the project is fully developed. Otherwise you really have nothing about which to write. Once your project is developed, then the proposal writes itself.
Grant seeking is hard work but infinitely rewarding. When you have a good project that helps people, and you can see the fruits of your labor, the work does not seem like a burden. We have helped many organizations acquire grant funding. We have taught tens of thousands of people in our workshops. We never tire of seeing the happy faces of children who have a second chance as a result of a grant. We never tire of knowing that women will get timely cancer screening as a result of a grant. We never tire of knowing that people are getting counseling as a result of a grant. We never tire of answering grant questions online. This work is rewarding indeed.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.