How to Write Grants, Part 3: Refine your Words and Budget
Writing a grant proposal is a bit like building a ship. Any holes in the structure can cause your idea not to float with the person on the other end reading your proposal and deciding how to distribute funding. In this third installment of the How to Write Grants series, we’ll look at some tips for making your grant “sink proof” with some extra writing tips and a word about budgeting.
7. Don’t complain.
Those reading your grant know classrooms are overcrowded, that there isn’t enough money for r
esources, and teachers are strapped to provide the best for their students. Otherwise they wouldn’t be funding classroom projects. Don’t waste valuable space (some grants have a word limit) telling them the obvious. There's a difference between describing your students' needs and restating what’s wrong in public education. For example, including the number of students in your classroom without access to technology at home would be stating a fact that would help someone understand your unique needs, as opposed to writing something along the line of “teachers never have enough resources for the students.” Share what you do to promote student learning in spite of the circumstances. Come across as someone who has a solution to improve your students’ learning environment, not one who dwells on the problems. This will help your grant request be view as a solution - and a good investment.
8. Negatives are your positives.
Securing funding isn't just about getting "stuff;" it's about making improvements. This goes back to Part One of this blog post series about thinking in terms of project, not product. Don’t forget about your demographics and test data. It’s not that these things are negative or “bad,” but they
are aspects that are obstacles to reaching your students needs - making your grant request all the more vital. Many grants request the demographic information for your school and/or classroom. Emphasize in your application how a particular demographic benefits through your project (example: low socio-economic, status high special education population, etc.). If there is the potential to bring up a weak academic area as evidenced through assessment data, include that, too. Make your statistics work for you, and your students will benefit when your grant is awarded.
9. It’s all about the money. Budget wisely and sensibly.
Just because you can write a grant for up to $10,000 doesn’t mean you should. Those awarding grants want to spread their funds as much as possible, unless it’s a grant for a fixed amount of money. Think of your goals. While many projects do warrant great expenditures to make an idea a reality, keep in mind the materials you request should adequately and appropriately fulfill the intent of your project. Do your research so you can include the best prices in your budget for the requested materials. You need to be exact when you get to that all-important page where you need to list your materials and quantity of each. Remember to include any other extras that may be necessary to get your project off the ground, such as batteries or bulbs.
Another good rule of thumb: break it up. Write grants for smaller amounts of money and fewer materials at a time to gradually build up to a large scale project. A well-written grant with a lower dollar figure stands a better chance than an over-the-top project that isn't clearly expressed.
As mentioned in Part Two of this series, make sure you read the directions regarding what
expenses will and will not be funded. Those guidelines will be adhered to by the granters regardless of how well-written or intentioned you are in your request.
There’s one more installment in the How to Write Grants series before we “anchors away” and you can sail away with all the valuable tips you need to begin securing funding for your classroom. In the last post of this series, I’ll share how to maintain connections with those funding grants to build lasting relationships and trust.