Death of a grant proposal: Six lessons learned in post-mortem

Following certain steps can help grant seekers complete grant proposals.
Following certain steps can help grant seekers complete grant proposals.

As I write this column, I’m mourning the death of a grant proposal that, after many weeks of discussion and hard work, did not get submitted. I’m conducting a post-mortem examination to determine what went wrong, in hopes of identifying these potential red flags in the future before it’s too late. I hope my analysis will help you recognize these warning signs, too, so you can get your proposal back on track before the deadline if you find yourself in a similar situation.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest mistakes the project’s collaborative partners made over the past five to six weeks, when we were meeting to develop the project and work on the proposal. I should explain that this was a large federal grant project we were working on, and I was not the lead grant writer on the proposal. Although we met weekly, there was little or no contact among partners outside of these meetings.

Here are the major mistakes that I believe led to the proposal’s demise:…Read More

Eight essential skills for school grant seekers

Grant seekers can develop skills to aid in grant-getting.
Grant seekers can develop skills to aid in grant-getting.

I recently had dinner with two grants professionals in Florida. One of them was quite upset, because someone she knew had remarked that the role of a grant writer was simply to “collate paper and submit an application.” If only it were that easy!

The conversation brought to light the common misconceptions that exist about just what grant writers do, and I’m going to try to clear up these misconceptions. Before I begin, I should state that not all grant professionals have the same responsibilities, and these depend largely on the organization they work for. That said, here are the key skills I think an effective grants professional must have, in no particular order:

1. Research skills. These involve two types of research: Looking for available funders, and being able to identify pertinent research to support a needs statement in a proposal. Grant writers need to be able to search the internet and find web sites that provide current information about grant opportunities. In many cases, this will include the web sites of both public and private funders. Grant writers also need to be able to locate research studies that support the existence of a need or a problem, and the possible solutions to solving this problem. Today, grant writers also need to be able to identify “best practices” in the education field in order to support why a specific solution is going to be effective in meeting a need or solving a problem.…Read More