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Everyone who has ever had a grant proposal funded has ideas about what made it win funding. Here are four last imperatives for improving your success at winning a grant from the start.

1. Leverage Assets:

Collaboration maximizes a grant’s impact. Leverage the grant maker’s limited funds with local resources. Share costs with other organizations. Help the grant maker to expect to achieve more benefits than it would if it were the only source of funds. Avoid asking for a grant without being able also to show a local commitment of funds or other resources. Show how solving a problem is so important to your organization that it will invest its own limited assets in solving it.

2. Write to Win:

Always write with a definite audience in mind. Anticipate probable reviewer profiles and predispositions. Predict the reviewers’ responses to your content and format and adjust them accordingly. Weigh your options before selecting a funding program and seeking a grant. Don’t waste scarce time and resources on grant opportunities that don’t fit your organization.

3. Do Reality Checks:

Every proposal draft has flaws, including the final draft; some flaws prove minor, others prove fatal. Exercise quality control before your organization submits a proposal. Do an internal pre-submittal review to ensure that your narratives and budgets make sense. As reviewers, recruit and use persons who will offer candid, detached perspectives on a proposal’s quality and content. Thank them for their insights.

4. Learn from Results:

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you’re not in the game, you’re not going to win it. Grant makers reject proposals from even the most sophisticated and capable grant seekers. Win or lose, always request and study reviewers’ comments, if available. Some grant makers measure your organization’s commitment to a project by its persistence in applying after an initial rejection. If at first a proposal doesn’t succeed, revise it and try again. Such persistence often pays off.

This is the last of a series describing 18 imperatives for winning competitive grants.


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