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.
Many grant makers encourage innovative projects for appropriate uses of established and emerging technologies in virtually every sector of public life. They seldom choose to fund the technologies directly; instead, they prefer to fund the perceived benefits or impacts that accrue from using them to solve well-defined problems. Be aware that some funders do adopt a more skeptical view – they may decline proposals for overly technology-intensive projects.
- Focus on benefits of using a technology not on the technology itself
- Address any need to train users of the technology before deploying it
- Offer thorough justifications for technology budget line items
- Link requested technologies to a project’s goals and objectives
- Use scientific research literature to justify selections of technologies
Trend: Logic Models
The presence of logic models is increasingly expected as part of more complex grant proposals. Its use is also expected to guide a project’s implementation and evaluation phases. The basic elements of logic models focus both on the present (inputs, activities) and future (outputs, outcomes). Both public and private grant makers may require inclusion and use of a logic model.
Logic Models Strategies:
- Develop a logic model for use in planning a proposed project
- Use tables and/or flow charts as graphics to illustrate narrative descriptions
- Try to capture the entire logic model on a single page
- Be aware that not every project type lends itself to a simple linear sequential graphic
- Consider the logic model as a guide for implementation, monitoring, and evaluation
Most funders expect grant recipients to be accountable for the programmatic results and financial expenditures of their projects. Applicants must plan to demonstrate and report measurable results. In the public sector, agencies use such results, aggregated across a program, to decide its longevity and its future levels of legislated appropriations.
- Propose ambitious but attainable project objectives
- Use monitoring and evaluation to measure and track progress and outcomes
- Plan to incorporate GPRA and GPRMA performance indicators
- Treat evaluation as a high-priority aspect of effective implementation
- Work with the grant maker as a partner to ensure successful project outcomes
Public and private grant makers resonate with contemporary demographic trends. They weigh an applicant’s awareness of and responsiveness to such trends. Many programs focus on narrowly defined special populations such as disabilities, linguistic or cultural minorities, or areas experiencing high levels of violence or poverty. They also look for well-delineated plans to deliver services in culturally responsive and culturally competent ways.
- Describe staff qualifications in the context of the diversity to be served
- Offer a plan to address specific needs of special populations
- Present context and data to characterize the special populations
- Use literature reviews to identify best practices for working with special populations
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.