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In late 2018, many blogs offer insights about how to seek, find, get, and keep a grant award, how to write a grant proposal, and related topics. The blogs vary widely in longevity, source, style, scope, depth, and quality; each one is worth a visit, perhaps even a tour.

 

This second post samples some of the diverse blogs about grant seeking and grant proposal writing. Its topics are: logic models; planning tools; prospect research; success factors; sustainability; and technical reviews.

 

The first post samples the same blogs. Its topics are: assessments of need; career paths; choice of voice; collaboration and networks; development process; goals and objectives; and grant writing myths. The context for both posts is the United States of America. Comments are always welcome.

 

Logic Models

 

Logic models are versatile tools for program design and project management. A particularly inspiring and reassuring post on the Grants4Good Blog, by Margit Brazda Poirier, presents some of the roles of logic modelsin developing grant proposals. An elegant post about the power of logic models, by Barbara Floersh, appears on the Grantsmanship Center Blog. Another related post on the Grant Training Center Blog, by Mathilda Harris, also argues for the utility of logic modelsin project planning. GrantResultshas an eight-part series (2016) about using logic modelsin writing proposals and in implementing funded projects.

 

Planning Toolkits

 

Grant proposals require extensive planning and coordination. In a helpful post on the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris examines the potential role of seven-component grant design chartsin planning a proposal and getting it funded. In the Foundation Center’s Grant Craft Blog, a thought-provoking post by Aimee Hendrigan describes the RACI matrixas a tool for fostering collaboration among grant recipients. GrantResultspresents a six-part series (2017) about Gantt charts, PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, Red teams, and several other tools for developing grant proposals.

 

Prospect Research

 

Knowing where to find grants is essential for grant seekers. Affiliated with the Foundation Center, famous for its comprehensive foundation directories, the GrantSpace Blogprovides a helpful overview about finding fundersin an applicant’s geographic area. GrantResultshas an eight-part series (2013, revised 2017) about state directories of grant makers, organized by geographic regions (e.g., New England, Midwest, Southwest).

 

Success Factors

 

Applicants may or may not get a grant for many reasons. The Grant Writing Basics Blog Seriesprovides a wealth of insights about winning and keeping federal grants, not the least of which is its post about verifying eligibility. On the Grant Training Center Blog, Mathilda Harris identifies 20 waysa proposal may fail to win a grant. Similarly, on the Let’s Talk Nonprofit Blog, Laura Rhodes offers tips about how some foundation grant makers make funding decisions. GrantResultsprovides a six-part series (2017) about some reasons why grant proposals may failto get funded (e.g., readiness, choice of opportunities, applicant attributes, proposal content).

 

Sustainability

 

The question of sustainability is pivotal for many grant makers. On the Grant Helpers Blog, in an instructive post, Michelle Hansen presents five key elementsof a sustainability plan. A penetrating post about the elements of sustainabilityalso appears on Barbara Floersch’s Grantsmanship Center Blog. GrantResultshas posted (2017) several tips for developing sustainability plansfor grant proposals, and has also posted (2013) seven strategiesfor developing sustainability plans.

 

Technical Reviews

 

Expert panel reviews make or break many grant proposals. On the Grant Writer Team Blog, a particularly informative and insightful post by Elaine Rose Penn explains what grant reviewers look forin proposals (e.g., partnerships and sustainability). The Grant Writing Basics Blog Seriesexplains peer review panelsand the application review process. On the Seliger+Associates Grant Writing Blog, Jake Seliger encourages grant seekers to write foremost to satisfy the needs and expectations of grant proposal reviewers, not other audiences. GrantResultspresents a two-part series (2012) about analyzing federal requests for proposals(RFPs) and becoming a reviewerof grant proposals.

 

 

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Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SMART goals.

 

Definitions of SMART Goals

 

SMART goals have been around since 1981. SMART is a mnemonic acronym. Originally, its elements stood for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related. In its original (1981) rendition, SMART meant:

 

S = Specific – targets a specific area for change

M = Measurable – is quantifiable or has indicators for change

A = Assignable – indicates who will do it

R = Realistic – can be accomplished given available resources

T = Time-related – indicates when the change will occur

 

More than 35 years later, research suggests that SMART usually stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Along the way since 1981, variations for each element of the acronym have proliferated:

 

  1. Variations on S include: simple, sensible, significant, stretching, or strategic.
  2. Variations on M include: meaningful or motivating
  3. Variations on A include: assignable, agreed, attainable, actionable, action-oriented, ambitious, active, aligned, or accountable.
  4. Variations on R include: reasonable, realistic, results-based, results-focused, reachable, rewarding, or research-based.
  5. Variations on T include: time-related, time-based, time-limited, time-sensitive, timely, trackable, time-framed, timed, timetable, tangible, or testable.

 

TRAMS Goals as an Alternative to SMART Goals

 

For some proposal writers, SMART may prove problematic as a planning tool. It need not be. Proposal writers can avoid many potential problems if they adopt the original elements of the SMART acronym. They can avoid more potential problems if they reverse its sequence and look at the elements as TRAMS rather than as SMART.

 

A well-constructed project objective states a specific and quantifiable performance criterion. It states when a result will happen. It states who will accomplish the result. Such an objective selects a result that is likely to happen, but not necessarily certain to happen, within a given time period. It states in what domain of activity the result will occur. And it alludes to how the project will measure the result.

 

In thus reframing the original acronym, proposal writers may use TRAMS as a checklist for evaluating the quality of the articulation of an objective, as a litmus test for ascertaining its quality, and as a process for enhancing and ensuring its quality.

 

As a checklist for reviewing and refining statements of project objectives:

 

T = objective states when, either as a single deadline or as a recurring event

R = objective states a performance criterion that is attainable yet challenging or ambitious

A = objective states who, either as an organization, or a position title, or a population

M = objective states a performance criterion or an indicator of success and a measurement instrument

S = objective states clearly and precisely who, what, when, to what extent, using what indicator

 

Among the uses of TRAMS in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Designs – formulating the objectives of a project
  2. Evaluation Plans – identifying instruments to be used to demonstrate progress in attaining the objectives of a project
  3. Personnel Plans – planning performance monitoring of staff involved in a project

 

Among the advantages of using TRAMS as a quality check in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Goal Displacement – preserves the distinction between a goal and an objective
  2. Objective Displacement – preserves objective as part of the vocabulary of project development and as a distinct element in program design
  3. Deference to RFP Language – adopts the specific terminology used in most proposal solicitations and subordinates local usages to the funders’ usages

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

 

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses PESTLE analysis.

 

Definition of PESTLE Analysis

 

PESTLE analysis examines external factors that form the context of a project or initiative. PESTLE is a mnemonic acronym with several variants. In PESTLE, P = political, E = economic, S = social, T = technological, L = legal, and E = environmental.

 

P = Political factors, such as support for public expenditures (tax rates, bond elections), tax policies, fiscal policies, and public investment policies.

E = Economic factors, such as employment rates, labor costs, inflation rates, interest rates, income levels, insurance rates, cost of living, credit costs, availability of expertise, and bond ratings.

S = Social factors, such as cultural trends, demographics, public safety, public health, confidence in public institutions, social mobility, mobility rates, attitudes and perceptions, cross-cultural communication, and educational attainment levels.

T = Technological factors, particularly innovations, automation, networks, Internet, efficiency, existing infrastructure, diffusion rates, displacement rates, adoption rates, training needs, skill sets, and attitudes/dispositions.

L = Legal factors, such as new and existing legislation, new and existing regulations, court decisions in case law, compliance, public engagement, accounting standards, and procurement.

E = Environmental factors, particularly natural phenomena, land use, scarcities or shortages of natural resources, recycling, energy access/costs, physical infrastructure, and physical maintenance.

 

PESTLE analysis is a tool for the analysis of external factors, which form part of the context within which a project will be launched and will function. Any and all of the external factors may advance or impede the project. As external factors, they are outside an organization’s control, but they impact the organization and its projects.

 

A PESTLE analysis may provide a more comprehensive view than SWOT analysis or it may be folded into the O and T of a SWOT analysis. It is a tool of strategic analysis rather than of strategic definition. It should be only one element in a comprehensive process of strategic analysis. Organizations must conduct the process regularly and repeatedly for it to be effective.

 

Among the steps involved in a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Brainstorm the PESTLE factors
  2. Identify the salient factors in each domain
  3. Rate the importance of each factor
  4. Assess likelihood for each factor
  5. Consider implications for each factor

 

The desired end result of a PESTLE analysis is to identify salient issues about which an organization may take action in a project.

 

Among the uses of PESTLE analysis in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Background – describing the larger context in which a project will operate
  2. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  3. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  4. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  5. Evaluation Plan – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the PESTLE analysis
  6. Evaluation Plan – performing a content analysis of the PESTLE findings

 

Precautions in Doing a PESTLE Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a PESTLE analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types and expertise types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent and repeated participation of stakeholders
  7. Planning actions that reflect findings of the PESTLE analysis

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses SWOT analysis.

 

Definition of SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT stands for Strength (S), Weakness (W), Opportunity (O), and Threat. SWOT analysis looks at identified factors in the present context or milieu of a project and interprets them either as S, W, O, or T.

 

S and W are of internal origin. Strengths are internal factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible strengths are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources. Weaknesses are internal factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible weaknesses also are: organizational culture, expertise, unique qualities, and resources.

 

By contrast, O and T are of external origin. Opportunities are external factors favorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible opportunities are: an organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors. Threats are external factors unfavorable to attaining an organization’s objective. Among possible threats are: the organization’s market sector/segment, third parties, and all of the PESTLE factors.

 

In general, S and O are helpful. Similarly, in general, W and T are harmful. Organizations control S and W to a degree. By contrast, they exert no control over O and T. What participants in a SWOT analysis may regard as an S in one context they may also regard as a W in another context – e.g., staff retention incentives – and what participants may regard as an O in one context they may also regard as a T in another context – e.g., community activism.

 

Steps in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT analysis is a tool for strategic definition, for reaching a consensus about the internal and external contexts of a project. It is an iterative process, not a one-time analysis. It also entails subjective decisions throughout its process.

 

The SWOT process starts from an already defined objective. Next it defines the factors involved. Next it yields an analysis. The analysis may reset the objective requiring reframing of the objective and triggering the iteration of another cycle of analysis. The defined objective and the SWOT analysis act on each other. They are interdependent, and thus dynamic, not static.

 

It is often useful for participants to start with analysis of S and W then move on to analysis of O and T. Results of SWOT can be plotted on a performance matrix. Those W factors that are keys to organizational success, but also show a low performance level are the factors that subsequent strategy should target. The O and T factors can be rated on a scale ranking their probability and their impact on the organization.

 

Among the uses of SWOT analysis in writing grant proposals are:

  1. Needs Assessment – summarizing of findings of the analysis as a baseline of needs
  2. Program Design – formulating one or more project objectives
  3. Program Design – selecting strategies and focuses of effort in an action plan
  4. Evaluation – using focus groups to monitor/review status of factors in the SWOT analysis
  5. Evaluation – performing a content analysis of the SWOT findings

 

Precautions in Doing a SWOT Analysis

 

Among some of the precautions to take in doing a SWOT analysis are:

  1. Using consistent methods and asking consistent questions
  2. Providing consistent facilitation
  3. Ensuring inclusive participant types
  4. Providing a neutral ground venue or multiple venue types
  5. Ensuring the accurate capture of insights
  6. Obtaining consistent participation of stakeholders
  7. Building a consensus about findings for the elements of SWOT
  8. Ensuring appropriate skill in facilitation and in building consensus
  9. Reducing risks of oversimplification and dominance of vested interests (e.g., denial of W out of deference to power)
  10. Planning actions that impact S and W
  11. Ensuring that it is repeated over time

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: Red Team reviews,  PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, RASCI charts, Gantt charts, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses Red Team reviews.

 

Definition of Red Team Reviews

 

Red Teams review a proposal before it is submitted, at the time when it is almost entirely developed. Every reviewer on the Red Team ideally adopts the critical/skeptical external viewpoint of the funders’ subsequent reviewers, not merely the internal viewpoint of an organization’s proposal writers and/or its executive leadership. The Red Team rates and comments upon pre-submittal proposals in terms of five attributes: coherence, completeness, consistency, compliance, and correctness.

 

  • Coherence includes aspects such as: clarity of writing, avoidance of technical jargon, and selection of verb tenses and voice
  • Completeness includes aspects such as: responsiveness to all review criteria, and appropriateness of responses to funder’s program priorities
  • Consistency includes aspects such as: uniformity of format, uniformity of terminology, and uniformity of writing style
  • Compliance includes aspects such as: conformity to proposal solicitation, conformity to laws and regulations, and conformity to the sequence of review criteria
  • Correctness includes aspects such as: absence of grammatical errors, absence of quantitative errors, and first-use elaboration of acronyms

 

Steps in a Red Team Review Process

 

Select a review team whose participants will have differing backgrounds and roles in the organization and will bring differing perspectives to the review. On the team, take steps to ensure representation of appropriate technical subject matter expertise (e.g., evaluation, budget, program design, human resources) and internal organizational leadership.

 

Orient the team. Provide all parts of the proposal with its attachments, which are needed to complete the review. Commit at least 2-4 hours to the review process. Adopt the program’s selection criteria rating scale and point allocations as the team’s criteria. Assign ID codes to each reviewer in case post-review questions arise. Collect, compile, and review the team’s ratings and comments. If possible, reconvene the Red Team reviewers for a debriefing.

 

The end products of a Red Team review should include the rating and scoring of a draft proposal against program selection criteria as well as the reviewers’ comments/rationales for their ratings and their ultimate recommendations for funding.

 

If time before a proposal deadline permits, subsequent internal, pre-submittal proposal reviews may focus on the budget (green team), the quality of the finished proposal, (gold team), and a final compliance check (white team).

 

Advantages and Limitations of Red Team Reviews

 

Among the advantages of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Finding flaws and strengths in narratives and budgets
  2. Suggesting deletions, explanations, elaborations, and/or additions to a proposal
  3. Finding inadequate references to relevant research literature and/or its findings
  4. Finding calculation errors in narratives and budgets
  5. Identifying missing budget items
  6. Identifying phantom budget items or superfluous or unjustified budget items

 

Among the limitations of a Red Team review in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Insufficient time may be allocated to doing a thorough review
  2. Key reviewers may be unavailable when they are needed
  3. Key reviewers may not regard the review as a high-priority use of their time
  4. Key reviewers may not commit enough time to the review

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, RASCI charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, meta-analysis, and logic models.

Certain project planning tools should be part of every competitive grant proposal writer’s repertoire. Among such tools are: RASCI charts, Red Team reviews, Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, meta-analysis, and logic models. This post discusses RASCI charts.

 

Definition of RASCI Charts

 

A RASCI chart is a form of responsibility matrix. It clarifies roles and responsibilities for tasks and deliverables within a project team. It specifies who will do what. A RASCI chart encompasses all of the primary types of stakeholders in a project. It aids in mapping project implementation plans, personnel plans, and evaluation plans. It also aids in doing a task analysis for a Gantt chart and in developing project-specific position descriptions.

 

R = Responsible. R is the one person who will be ultimately responsible for success in completing a task and in delivering its work products. R may be the person who actually will do the work (or produce the deliverable) or who will direct others to do the work. Example: Strategic Communication Specialist.

 

A = Accountable. A is the one person who will have ultimate accountability and authority for the task. A is also the person to whom R will report or will be otherwise accountable, and A is the person who will approve the adequacy of the work product (deliverable). Example: Project Director.

 

S = Supportive. S is the person or team of persons who will be needed to do the actual work of completing specific tasks (or creating specific deliverables). S often includes persons who can provide logistical, coordinative, or administrative services. Example: Professional Development Coordinator.

 

C = Consulted. C is anyone whose input will add value and/or whose buy-in will be essential for the ultimate implementation of the tasks. C commonly includes persons who can offer technical expertise to a task. Example: Community-Based Organizations.

 

I = Informed. I is the person or groups of persons who will need to be notified of results or actions taken but who will not need to be involved in daily decision-making processes. I will include persons or groups that will need to be “kept in the loop” and/or apprised of the status and progress of a project. Example: Board of Directors.

 

Steps in Creating a RASCI Chart

 

A RASCI chart requires the prior completion of at least a preliminary task analysis for a project. After completing a task analysis, create a table. List the Tasks down the Y-axis. List the Positions or Persons along the X-axis. Enter the roles in the cells. Color-code each type of role (if desired). The relative numbers of stakeholders by code should be: I > C > S > R > A. Every task must have an A and an R. Not every task needs an S.

 

Sample RASCI Chart

 

Person 1 Person 2 Person 3 Person 4… Person N
Activity/Task 1 R I A C S
Activity/Task 2 I R A S C
Activity/Task 3 R C A I S
Activity/Task 4 S A C R I

 

Among the uses of a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Program Design – describing action steps that R, A, S, C, and/or I will perform
  2. Personnel Plan – identifying types of personnel required to implement a project
  3. Evaluation Plan – identifying types of personnel needed for interim and final evaluation of a project
  4. Budget – allocating funds for key personnel identified through creating a RASCI chart

 

Among the limitations of using a RASCI chart in writing a grant proposal are:

  1. Possible proliferation of A when only one person should be A
  2. Interpretations that R are not A to any degree at all
  3. Possible proliferation of C where too many C may slow progress of project

 

Subsequent posts will discuss other project development tools such as Gantt charts, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, Red Team reviews, meta-analysis, and logic models.

 

See also: https://grantresults.wordpress.com/tag/rasci-charts

This post is about tables of contents in grant proposals. It is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Tables of Contents

 

Grant makers often require a table of contents for longer proposals. Its visual appeal, structure, and coverage – as well as its completeness and its compliance with instructions – can suggest a great deal about an organization as a potential grant recipient.

 

Tips

 

Look at the proposal’s headlines, headers, and sub-headers as a possible starting point for the table of contents. Use the table of contents to make a strong and positive early impression on the proposal reviewers.

 

The longer the proposal, the more likely a funder will require a table of contents. In preparing a table of contents when one is required:

  • Use the request for proposals (RFP) as an outline and guide
  • Use the grant maker’s specific order of parts and sections
  • Use the grant maker’s specific names for parts and sections
  • Present a separate line entry for each part and section
  • Break up the proposal narrative into multiple indented subheadings
  • Present a separate line entry for each budget year’s form and narrative
  • Present a separate line entry for each item attached in an appendix
  • List all forms included in the proposal

 

The proposal’s table of contents is an early opportunity to convince a grant maker of an organization’s worthiness for funding. Reviewers may refer to it often. Applicants need to be sure that it is clear, accurate, and easy to use.

 

 

 

This post is about proposal attachments. It is part of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Proposal Attachments

 

Most public and private grant makers require applicants to include a number of attachments (or appendices) as part of their proposals. Applicants omit forget or omit attachments at the risk of becoming ineligible for proposal review.

 

Tips

 

In writing proposals requiring attachments (or appendices), an applicant should:

  • Follow each specific grant maker’s instructions
  • Provide all required attachments
  • Observe all limits on number of pages to be attached
  • Observe all limits on types of documents to be attached
  • Number all pages consecutively
  • Label every document clearly
  • List attached documents in a table of contents, if one is allowed and used
  • Refer to or cite attached documents clearly in the proposal

 

Always attach documents only if they are allowed or required. And always follow the funder’s instructions, if available, for where and in what sequence to attach them.

 

Although an applicant should not expect to need to attach every type listed here in every proposal it submits, among the attachments (or appendices) that it may need are:

  • Biographical sketches (resumes or vitae) of key staff
  • Position descriptions
  • Organizational charts
  • Program design flow charts
  • Logic models
  • Timelines (Gantt charts or PERT charts) or milestone charts
  • Letters (commitment, support)
  • Contracts or sub-contracts (consultants, service providers)
  • Partner agreements (memoranda of understanding, memoranda of agreement)
  • Sample survey instruments
  • Sample assessment instruments
  • Technical specifications for products or construction/renovations
  • Tax-exempt letter (IRS non-profit status determination letter)
  • Organization’s most recent audit statement
  • Organization’s board of directors (names, positions, and affiliations)
  • Required standard forms (certifications, assurances)

 

Every attachment (or appendix) is an integral part of a proposal. Reviewers consider them in deciding which proposals to recommend for funding. Applicants should take as much care in preparing and presenting them as they do with the rest of their proposals.

 

This post is about budget justifications. It is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Budget Justifications

 

The budget often makes or breaks a grant proposal. It is a focal point for deciding its merits. It is also one of the main reasons for asking for funding in the first place. It is vital, therefore, for an applicant to present a clear and well-reasoned budget; otherwise, it can be all for nothing.

 

Tips

 

Be clear. Clarity is critical. The assumptions underlying line items need to be clear to proposal reviewers. The need for clarifying assumptions increases with the length of a proposal and the size and duration of the grant being sought.

 

Explains costs. Many state and federal agencies require all applicants to explain their assumptions in a budget justification (also called a budget narrative or a budget justification narrative); some private foundations require one as well. Applicants may need to explain every line item in every cost category or only some of them.

 

Comply with rules. Always follow the specific grant maker’s instructions for justifying budget line items. If an item is not clear to an applicant’s red team reviewers, it is unlikely to be clear to the proposal reviewer.

 

In preparing an item-by-item budget justification, applicants should:

  • Present each budget line item in the same sequence as in the itemized budget
  • Present locally established authority as a basis for calculations (salary schedules, rates, policies)
  • Adopt regularly updated state or federal per diem reimbursement rates (mileage, lodgings, meals, fares)
  • Describe or explain factors in the formulas used for specific line items (numbers of units or events, costs per unit or event)
  • Associate line items with specific goals, objectives, or program design components
  • Explain unusual or unique budget line items or costs
  • Use real costs – not estimates – as they exist at the time of application
  • Avoid vague and opaque line items, such as ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘contingency’
  • Give only as much detail as will clarify or explain or justify each line item

 

 

This post is about evaluation plans. It is part of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Evaluation Plans

 

The quality of an applicant’s evaluation plan is critical for its proposal in winning a grant. The same plan is also critical to success in implementing a project. The evaluation plan demonstrates the applicant’s willingness to report on the benefits and results of a grant. Its content and level of detail vary with the funder’s requirements and with the nature and scope of a project’s program design.

 

Tips

 

An applicant’s evaluation plan needs to answer essential questions, such as:

  • How will it collect or gather data?
  • Who will collect the data?
  • When will it collect the data?
  • How often will it collect the data?
  • How will it analyze the data?
  • How will it report the data?
  • When will it report the data?
  • How often will it report the data?
  • To whom will it report the data?

 

An applicant can strengthen its evaluation plan, if it:

  • Describes its internal evaluation team
  • Identifies and uses a highly qualified External Evaluator
  • Presents its External Evaluator as one of its key personnel
  • Defines and delivers what stakeholders need or want to know
  • Defines its data collection needs and strategies
  • Uses summative and formative evaluation methods
  • Uses quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods
  • Describes technical merits – reliability and validity – of its evaluation instruments
  • Incorporates a grant program’s performance indicators (if any)
  • Identifies target audiences for its evaluation reports
  • Links monitoring and evaluation to its management plan
  • Presents its evaluation processes in chart or table format
  • Includes a timeline or a list of evaluation milestones

 

Among the many roles of an evaluation plan are to:

  • Measure an applicant’s progress in achieving its objectives
  • Provide accountability for outcomes to funders and other stakeholders
  • Assure a grant maker of an organization’s effectiveness and capacity
  • Improve the quality and extent of implementation of key activities
  • Increase local support for a current initiative and for its sequels
  • Inform decisions about what works and what to do after a grant ends

 

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