Thinking Through the Grant Process

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Grant Writing is often thought of as an arduous process that sometimes does not bear fruit. While this is true sometimes, the strategic investment to acquire grants far outweighs the cost of getting a grant. Public Finance Managers are often tasked with finding ways to efficiently utilize scare resources. Grants provide different ways to leverage revenues to expand and increase services.

For many managers the question becomes, how do I get grants to bolster my programs? You may have heard the expression, “there is so much to be done, but we just cannot afford to do more, our funds cannot support it.” My normal response is, you need to get grant funding to help you. Today we will take a moment to examine the grant process.

Let’s look at a few critical things to consider when seeking grants.

Your first step is to identify a problem or issue that needs to be corrected or addressed. Provide evidence that the problem is in fact a problem and substantiate it with evidence. Data and testimonials are a good way to shed light on the issues or problems. Next, share how you intend to remedy the problem and how much it will cost to get it done. Highlight the benefits of the corrective action and any savings it will create as a result.

Once you have identified the problem, pull together a diverse team of experts to include individuals with intimate knowledge of the issue(s) who can share creative ideas to mitigate solution. The team must include individuals with experience in finance, budgets, and program management. Together, they must explore the problem, and outline ways to address it, who will be available to assist, the cost involved and more importantly, how long will it take to correct the issue at hand. Together, the team must develop a plan by explaining how the plan will be executed. It helps to provide a solid timeline along with the proposed plan.

Now let’s take a closer look at the proposed plan. The plan can and should be easily converted to a grant proposal. To keep things simple, let’s shift our focus to the grant proposal. Each proposal must contain:

  • A Statement of Work or a Problem Statement
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Data to Substantiate the Problem (including population or audience)
  • A Budget
  • A Timeline (a Gantt Chart or Logic Model is helpful)
  • A Program Evaluation

Each proposal will likely be different, but the takeaway from this is that these major components must be included in your proposal.

So, the question many of you may have is, “How do I find grants?” Well, the simple answer for public managers is to begin with government grants at the state or federal level. At the federal level, you may go the Grants.gov.

Grants.gov is a comprehensive website managed by the federal government that provides access to individuals who would like to apply for grants, research grants, and submit grant applications. The site also allows individuals to access tutorials, blogs, and grant writing tips. As a user of the site, I highly recommend that you take the time to browse it. You will find the site to be the grant “holy grail.”

I will close this article by sharing other options that you can take to navigate the grant search landscape. Keep in mind that you can find grants through endowments, foundations, and corporate entities. There are research organizations that provide a service to research grant for a fee. For example, eCivis at gn.ecivis.com and Foundation Directory Online at fconline.foundationcenter.org are also sources for grants.

As you are preparing your budgets and considering new programs, think of how you might supplement available revenue with grants. It does take time and effort to submit a proposal, but you might be rewarded with funding for a project that can benefit your community. After all, our focus is on service delivery and identifying the necessary financial resources. Until next time…

Article Written By:
Suzette Arnold
Carl Vinson Institute of Government, UGA
Public Service Faculty


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