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April 3, 2022, 5:19 am 0

How to write a successful grant application

Grants enable small businesses, institutions and Government bodies to raise funds for a defined purpose. In our experience we have seen that entities applying for grants think that a grant is a magic pill and experienced and reputed writers can assure funding. While this is not entirely true but a detailed research and a close match can ensure to a certain extent that your institution has a good chance of receiving funds. Let me take a small example here. Many of us are aware of the National Science Foundation Grants (NSF) in the US. They offer an awesome number of funds across many scientific areas with a focus on R&D. While NSF grants are open grants meaning that small businesses, educational institutions can apply a quick research on the awardees shows a very high percentage of Colleges and Universities that are funded by NSF. So if you are a small business and your research is not really transformational the chances of getting funded are less.  

So how do we ensure the highest probability of grants? The highest number of grants is given by department of energy, technology, environment among others. So if you project falls in any of these areas then you stand a good chance. Once we have ensured the fitment, the next challenge is the writing process. I would suggest a fitment of atleast 95% to even start with the submission process. In several grants there is a 2 step process to the submission. In the first step, applicants have to submit a project pitch. The pitch is an initial cover to the actual application. If the pitch is successful, then applicants are asked to submit the complete application. With those applicants with limited resources, it helps them to limit the effort that they have to put in the initial stage. Applicants have to ensure that they provide an excellent pitch to help them move to the next stage of the process. The application process should be planned well in terms of how you will execute your plan within a defined timeline. All grants are given for a defined timeline and in many cases this is 2 years. You will also need to provide a definite plan on how you will sustain your project once the grant funding comes to an end. This can mean that either you will take your project to customers within that timeline or you will find private investors to fund your project or you may apply for other grants.

For those who are not used to the process it can be overwhelming. The fact is that Grant writing is not an overwhelming process if you follow the small technical elements that are required to make a successful submission. I have given below the points clearly that will help anyone to submit a grant with confidence.

1.      The first step would be to login to grants.gov (using the new login.gov) login credentials. Grants.gov, sam.gov and several of US government websites are using login.gov credentials for logging-in.

2.      The next step would be create organization registration in Grants.gov and also allocate a “Standard AOR” role in grants.gov.

3.      Once these steps are completed, the applicant needs to create a workspace for the grant to be applied and start filling-up the responses using the webforms.

Based upon our experience, we have found that one of the key factors in a winning grant proposal is how close your response is to what has been asked in the application. For example if the requirement is to develop an IT architecture for large scale data handling then you need to provide the key technology stack and a detailed description of how the architecture will enable large scale data processing across different formats. Similarly if you have a simple grant to improve a Government department building you need to provide the quotations from different vendors related to the project and so on and so forth. The essence is to be specific.

Always analyze previous wins and losses as that helps to increase the probability of winning. Also if you want to get a grant for a project do not stop with a single application. You should atleast plan for 4-5 submissions to close a successful application.

Winning a grant calls for very detailed and specific responses to the questions being asked along with some of the standard forms that are part of the applications. Some of these forms are budget forms, SF424, Project Info etc. Ensure that you do not miss out on any of these forms. If you have submitted a winning response which goes through the first round of scrutiny you may still have to answer several queries from the grant agency. An application generally goes through multiple rounds of scrutiny before a decision is taken.

Keep a close watch on the submission deadlines if it is not an open grant. In many occasions there is a deadline extension that helps applicants to do additional checks on the application. Finally, it is always a good idea to discuss with previous winners who may have won a similar grant.

Writing a winning grant starts from the process of grant research. If you do not identify the right grant chances of getting funds is less. Follow that up with a great mix of the technical aspects of your proposal and storytelling. If you need a grant written for Government, business or Non Profit; write to us at info@intelligentq.co.in


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