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 firstname.lastname@example.org