Active seekers of competitive grants must be aware of broad social, political, and economic trends that impact their ability to obtain funding. Some of these trends are newly emerging; others are persistent. A few of the more salient trends in the 2010s are explored here.
Grant makers consistently expect evidence of an applicant’s investment in or commitment to its proposed project. Cost sharing may be explicit or implied, optional or required. Required shared cost ratios of 4:1, 3:1, 2:1, even 1:1 are common. Local cost sharing can demonstrate broad-based community support for problem-solving strategies an applicant proposes to use.
- Observe at least the minimum cost sharing ratios required
- Select cost sharing items whose values can be documented well
- Identify specific cost sharing commitments and amounts in letters of commitment
- Build resources for use in cost sharing through partnerships and collaboration
Trend: Community Engagement
Many competitive grant programs encourage authentic, measurable, and sustained involvement of families and community groups in planning, implementing, and evaluating a project. Both public and private grant makers also often require documentation of the nature and extent of such community engagement.
Community Engagement Strategies:
- Design programs around forms of community engagement
- Ensure active community participation in developing grant proposals
- Offer alternative ways for community members to participate
- Use multiple channels to invite public participation in grant-related activities
Both public and private grant makers demand a robust research-based rationale for the strategies an applicant proposes. Applicants for projects involving direct services, as well as those for model, demonstration, and research-oriented projects must show that they will integrate or apply best practices in doing what they propose to do.
- Create an on-hand research base for use in anticipated proposals
- Do a thorough literature search well before you need a review of it for a proposal
- Use scientific and statistical research studies and meta-analyses
- Use local, state, and national plans, reports, and white papers as resources
Many grant makers expect applicants to budget for human resource development or to demonstrate that qualifications of staff and other participants eliminate the need for it. Such terms as “family education”, “parental involvement”, “staff development”, and “professional development” all tend to carry more positive connotations than mere “training.”
- Collect vitae and resumes for potential use in future proposals
- Adopt the grant maker’s alternate term of choice in writing about “training”
- Do local needs assessments to support plans to conduct “training”
- Review the research literature about what works in doing “training”
This is one of a series on trends in grant making. As a grant writer and/or a grant seeker, you may discern others, or you may discern counter-trends. If so, don’t hesitate to comment.