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Ten Steps to “Winning” Proposals

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1 Ten Steps to “Winning” Proposals
What the Grant “Pros” Know and Do to Give their Proposals the Competitive Edge ©Judith Killen 2013

2 Presenter: Judith Killen, PhD Proposal Development & Communication Services (m)

3 Sponsored By The Office of Sponsored Programs & Research Towson University

4 Topics Proposal Fundamentals
Where’s the grant money: Funding snapshot Current grant environment What is a grant proposal? Six characteristics of all winning proposals Why Proposals Fail Ten Steps to Developing & Writing “Winning” Proposals

5 Workshop Goals “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing— that it was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney Understand key principles of competitive grant proposal writing Know where & how to look for funding, & how to match projects to funding sources Identify 3 potential funders Develop a draft proposal outline & initial proposal development plan Understand how to access resources in proposal development & grants management available from the Towson OSP&R

6 10 Steps: Overview Step 1: Do your homework
Step 2: Rigorously manage the proposal writing process Step 3: Write the proposal for reviewers Step 4: Structure (outline) your proposal as an “answer book.” Step 5: Clearly align your project goal & objectives with RFA/RFP purpose, goal, results, deliverables Step 6: Articulate results-oriented, measurable objectives Step 7: Use objectives to Develop Plan of Work Step 8: Align budget with work plan Step 9: Write, package, and submit on time an impeccable proposal Step 10: Implement an impeccable project & meet all obligations

7 US Federal Grant Budget & Expenditures
US Federal government funded 68% of all grants awarded in Agency FY 2014 Budget FY 2013 FY 2012 DHHS $80B $31B NIH $335.7B $20.5B NIH $344.4B EDU $71.2B $41.2B $44.0B EPA $4.6B $3.8B NSF $7.6B $6.2B $6.3B NEH $154.5M $113.7M DoD $67.5 [DRDTE]: $11.9B S&T $1.5B $4.4B USAID $47.8B joint AID & STATE $7.8B $8.9B STATE $1.6B $1.4B NASA $17.7B $762.2M $864.2M

8 Fed Grant & Contract $$ in MD FY2013
$32.8 Billion $7.4B in grants $25.4B in contracts Top 10 Grantors: DHHS $4.8B EDU $629.8M USDA $454.1M DoD $406.9M DoL $278M HUD $154.4 NSF $140M NASA $102.2M DHS $94.5M EPA $83.2M

9 MD Top Ten (2013) MD Health & Mental Hyg. (2) MD Edu
IN GRANTS IN CONTRACTS MD Health & Mental Hyg. (2) MD Edu MD Human Resources Henry Jackson Fdn. ($238M) MD Labor (2) University of Maryland ($102M) Housing Authority-Baltimore City Johns Hopkins University ($87.9M) Lockheed Martin SAIC Johns Hopkins ($838.8 M) Computer Sciences Corp Northrup Grumman BAE Systems General Dynamics ManTech International IBM

10 Private Philanthropy In the US In Maryland
81,777 registered grant- making foundations (2011) Total Giving was $49B in ($45.8B in 2010) $583.4B in total assets (2009) Top 50 Foundations gave 32% of total funding 1479 registered foundations (2011) Total Assets: $13B Total giving: in $735 million MD organizations: $508M received in grants in 2011

11 Top Ten Foundation Givers to MD 2011
State No. of Grants Dollar Value Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation WA 56 $144.7 million Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation MD 204 $28.6 million Baltimore Community Fdn. 224 $15.3 million Abell Foundation 170 $15.1 million Howard G. Buffett Fdn. IL 5 $10.9 million Open Society Institute NY 55 $10.6 million Wal-Mart Foundation AR 15 $10.1 million Bank of America Charitable Foundation NC 103 $9.9 million Community Fdn. for the National Capital Region DC 219 Skip Viragh Fdn. NV 16 $9.6 million

12 Top 10 in Maryland – Giving
Foundation ~Giving Total (2010) Annie E Casey Foundation (Baltimore) $89.9M Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation (Owings Mill) $86M Ellison Medical Foundation (Bethesda) $38.9M Sherman Fairchild Foundation (Chevy Chase) $31.4M Baltimore Community Foundation $21.1 J. Willard & Alice Marriot Foundation (Bethesda) $12.3 Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment (Annapolis) $10M Abell Foundation(Baltimore) $9M Laszlo N. Tauber Foundation (N. Bethesda) $7.4M France-Merrick Foundation (Baltimore) $7M

13 Top Ten Grantees in MD – private philanthropy (2011)
Organization Dollar Value No. of Grants Johns Hopkins University $71.4 million 198 Foundation for the NIH $42 million 11 University of MD-Baltimore $40.3 million 21 Catholic Relief Services $22 million 35 Enterprise Community Partners $13.4 million 44 University of MD- College Park $8.2 million Achieving the Dream $7.6 million 7 SNV USA $7.5 million 1 Abt Associates $7.1 million 2 Naval Medical Research Center

14 Grant Writing Environment-Key messages
No lack funding, but extreme competition for all funding Two-Step Competition E-Commerce/Business: Good & Bad Shorter Proposals but No Less Info Required Partnerships Required: Multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving Multidisciplinary teams; Stakeholder teams Partnerships in funding: cost sharing/leveraging STEM & Student Education/Involvement/Job Training Politics: Internal & External Results, Significance, Impact, Accountability & Ethics

15 Key messages Grant writing-highly specialized & professional
We can not be amateurs Time consuming (2 years plus) Not all excellent proposals will win, but all proposals must be “winning” Method & Craft to grant writing: Not magic

16 What is a grant proposal?
Not academic, scientific or technical writing First & foremost - Marketing Document Request for investment Proposals build your case

17 What Proposals “Sell” Low Risk & High Probability of Success
Your proposal’s key message: This is a “good investment” for the Funding Agency.

18 What Proposals “Sell”:
Understanding - of issue, problem, research important to potential sponsor Innovative Solution - to the problem or Intriguing research on issues critical to the sponsor Significance & Impact – of the problem and your solution Experts - right people for right job Expertise - track record Institutional Capacity, Commitment & Integrity - We can, do, and have made good on our promises

19 What is a Proposal? Operational Plan
Should be an Answer Book to Application Guidelines Legal & Binding Agreement 1st Example of the Quality of your Work Your Future

20 A Winning Proposal Must be an Answer Book
No such thing as a generic proposal Compliant, complete and fully responsive to each specific RFP, RFA or other application guidelines Easy to read and evaluate Skimable No one wants to read proposals – no one is obligated to fund your work.

21 Proposal is also a Process
Marketing Process Project Design Process Partnership & Team Building Process Can take up to 2 years An excellent proposal document is NECESSARY but not always SUFFICIENT to win the award. The proposal document submitted to funding agency: Is only one point in the process Should not be the first point in that process Is not the last point Not always the most important point of that process.

22 Proposal Development Process
Submit impeccable proposal on time Initial idea ID funding source & conduct fact finding Develop & implement marketing strategy for each source Conduct pilot research/work Make bid/no bid decision Design project including ID partners & preliminary budget Communicate ideas with potential sponsor Refine ideas Write an impeccable proposal

23 Types of Proposals Solicited Proposals (RFA, RFP, NOFA, PA, BAA, FOA, etc.) Unsolicited Proposals Letter Proposals (can also be called LOIs, Concept Notes/Papers, Pre-Proposals

24 Standard Proposal Parts
Program/Project Proposals NSF/Research Abstract Summary/Executive Summary Background/Needs Assessment Goal & Objectives Plan of Work Staffing Plan & Key Personnel Evaluation & Monitoring Budget Sustainability Plan Partners Organizational Experience, Capability & Resources Project Summary Project Description References Cited Biographical Sketches Budget Current & Pending Support Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources Special Information & Supplementary Documentation Appendices

25 All Proposals Are Competitive
ONLY 3 reasons to prepare and submit a proposal: To win To place among the outstanding finalists To gain attention and respect as a serious new competitor within an area or research topic

26 Six Characteristics of Winning Proposals
Responsive Familiar Accurate Verifiable Benefit-Oriented Answer “Why Me?”

27 10 Steps to “Winning” Proposals

28 10 Steps: Overview Step One: Do your homework
Step Two: Rigorously manage the proposal writing process Step Three: Write the proposal for reviewers Step Four: Structure (outline) your proposal as an “answer book.” Step Five Clearly align your project goal & objectives with RFA/RFP purpose, goal, results, deliverables Step Six: Articulate results-oriented, measurable objectives Step Seven: Use objectives to Develop Plan of Work Step Eight: Align budget with work plan Step Nine: Write, package, and submit on time an impeccable proposal Step Ten: Implement an impeccable project & meet all obligations

29 Step 1: Do your Homework Identify Potential Funding Sources
Three Types of Homework Simultaneous Iterative Interrelated Identify Potential Funding Sources Design Your Project Develop/Implement a Marketing Plan

30 Identify Federal Funding: Key Resources Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Federal Agency Homepages NSF Education NEH HRSA Fee-Based, Searchable Databases Towson Office of Sponsored Programs & Research

31 Key Resources: Association of American Universities (AAU) OMB – Office of Management & Budget

32 Identify Private Funding: Key Resources
The Foundation Center do.html Foundation Search Federal Tax Form 990 MD funders D=1

33 Design Your Project First step in Writing “winning” proposal
“Chance ONLY favors the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur First step in Writing “winning” proposal Preparing a realistic budget Identifying the right funding match

34 Develop/Implement a “Marketing Plan”
Overall strategy of needs to be done to “Win” the award— to write a compelling proposal. This includes: Identify current strengths & weaknesses Outline a set of activities to build on strengths & overcome weaknesses Procure proposal budget and human resources to implement strategy

35 Step 2: Rigorously Manage the Proposal Writing Process
Internal Resources & Support? Team Approach Select Proposal Manager/Lead Editor Lead Technical Expert/Project Director, SMEs to provide technical input, Costing & Operations Specialists, Clerical assistance important Kick Off Meeting – Whole Team Attends. Weekly Status Meetings Read/Review Application Guidelines together Proposal Manager prepares Bid Package - team contract Turn around 3 Review Drafts within time limits. Submit early. Schedule for Peer or Red Team Review Involve Costing /Operations Personnel in Development of Work plan from beginning

36 Step 3: Write for Reviewers
“If you can not, in the long run, tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.” Erwin Schrödinger Your Proposal: Easy to read and skim by intelligent non-experts Easy to evaluate – An Answer Book to the Application Guidelines Complete and Compliant Avoids Jargon and highly technical language Creates a compelling and positive Primary Purpose - MARKETING Place project in context Describe significance, impact, and value –from funder’s and beneficiary point of view No one wants to read your proposal. No one is obligated to fund your project.

37 Who are the Reviewers? The Ideal THE REAL Share our interest & enthusiasm about our projects Are experts in subject area of our project Have time to read our proposals in detail Will be fair & impartial in judging our proposal Overworked, overly committed, tired & underpaid Skeptical & highly critical Risk adverse Look for easy ways to review proposals as quickly & as best they can Do not want to read proposals—and have many proposals to read

38 Three Levels of Review:
In FY 2011, the NIH received 49,592 RPG applications. It funded 18% of applications reviewed. 15%: For new investigators or new applications Level 1: Gateway and/or Clerical Review Level 2: Program/Technical Level 3: Decision/Budget

39 Step 4: Structure (Outline) the Proposal as an “Answer Book”
In FY 2011, the NSF received 51,522 applications and made 11,186 awards for a funding rate of 22%. Ensures your proposal is complete, compliant and fully responsive to every requirement in the RFP or RFA Recognizes that there is no such thing as a generic proposal outline Ensures your proposal is quick and easy to review and evaluate Ensures there is a heading or sub-heading for every requirement/evaluation criterion Uses evaluation points to determine section lengths

40 Outlining Technique – Answer Book
Follow required format-headings & numbering system EXACTLY Check evaluation criteria for additional headings & subheadings. Place in main outline where you determine logical Other requirements? Create heading/subheadings Use point weight of evaluation criteria to determine page limits of each section If no required format: Use Evaluation Criteria to structure proposal

41 Step 5: Clearly Align Project Goal & Objectives with RFA/RFP Purpose, Goal, Results, & Deliverables
From HRSA Guidance MEDMATCH Project “The purpose of the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Grant (Rural Quality) Program is to provide support to rural primary care providers for implementation of quality improvement activities. Quality health care is the provision of appropriate services to individuals and populations that are consistent with current professional knowledge, in a technically competent manner, with good communication, shared decision-making and cultural sensitivity. The ultimate goal of the program is to promote the development of an evidence-based culture and delivery of coordinated care in the primary care setting. Additional objectives of the program include: improved health outcomes for patients; enhanced chronic disease management; and better engagement of patients and their caregivers. Our Medication Match Program (MedMatch) enables two critical access hospitals in rural, medically underserved areas in eastern North Carolina…to implement an evidence- based medication reconciliation model in their hospitals, and to partner with primary care physician practices and other health providers to ensure its success. The proposed model has been demonstrated to improve care quality and outcomes and to reduce unnecessary care costs. MedMatch’s goal is to improve medication management and prevent readmissions and adverse medication events.

42 Step 6: Articulate Results-Oriented, Measurable Objectives
Most common mistakes in Project Design Goal is confused with objectives or methods Objectives are confused with activities Focus only on methods Failure to provide theoretical framework for hypothesis Failure to define & justify technical approach Goal – Project’s ultimate AIM Conceptual Broad-based Not subject to measurement

43 Objectives: The steps that MUST occur to reach the goal Specify a result (a change) NOT an activity Each objective describes only 1 result per objective Are operational, measurable, verifiable State what will result, when— but not how or why SMARRRT: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Results-Oriented, Relevant, Realistic, Time-bound Most common mistakes in Objective development: Focus on activities or methods instead of results Unclear how results will be measured Results seem unachievable in time allotted Rationale is missing or unclear

44 These are not Objectives
DANIDA GOAL: Promote High-Value, Environmentally Sustainable Livelihood Options for Small Farmers in Western Uganda To train farmers, school children and change agents on agroforestry emphasizing on soil fertility improvement To form farmers’ groups and networking as method of enhancing technology transfer in the community To facilitate exchanges with government agents to support ongoing development


46 Goal & Objectives: Examples
The goal of the proposed program is to provide high-quality and comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, care and mitigation in rural Zimbabwe. The objectives are: Objective 1: Full-Service, fully operational VCT Centre (the “Reveneko”) is established within each target area within six months of identification of the target area Objective 2: High-quality, full-service system of home-based care is established within and operated by the church/community surrounding each VCT Centre within six months of the start date of each Centre Objective 3: High-quality, full-service system of care and support for orphans and vulnerable children is established and operating within each community surrounding the VCT Centre within six months of start date of the centre

47 Goal & Objectives: Examples
MedMatch’s goal is to improve medication management and prevent readmissions and adverse medication events. Specific project objectives are: 1. Hospital performance on HCAHPS medication communication dimension reaches the 85% top-box by end of year 2 2. Adverse drug events related to medication reconciliation are reduced by 50% each year 3. Medication reconciliation related event reports are reduced by 50% each year 4, Readmissions due to adverse drug events are reduced by 25% in each year

48 CMS HCIA Project Goals and Aims: Our project will improve the healthcare and health of patients diagnosed with one or more of three chronic neurological diseases: AD, MS, and PD while reducing total care costs. Its aims are: (1) 3,900 AD/MS/PD patients have improved health within six months of cooperative agreement award as measured by PROMIS score +90% (2) 3,900 AD/MS/PD patients experience improved care delivery within six months of cooperative agreement award as measured by CG-CAHPS and CAHPS-PCMH scores +90 (3) 10% savings on total cost of care is achieved by month six as measured by 25% reduction in admission rate and 24% reduction in ED visits. By the end of Year One, our project will provide services to an estimated patients, and over three years, targets a patient population of 11,400 (Table 1). By the end of Year Three, we will deliver a fully developed payment model that significantly reduces total costs of care for Medicare, Medicaid, and other payers.

49 Objectives Plan of Work Management & Staffing (personnel) Plans
Operationalize Objectives with Measure Objectives Plan of Work Management & Staffing (personnel) Plans Partnership Plan Sustainability Plan Budget Monitoring & Evaluation Plan

50 Step 7: Use Measurable Objectives to Develop Plan of Work
For each SMARRRT Objective answer [in some logical order] the following (also see Project Design Template): What actions will you take to achieve the objective? (Tasks & Sub tasks) How you will do each task and sub task? (methods) What resources will be needed for each task & sub task? (Personnel, Materials) Who will do each task & sub task? Personnel How long will it take? (Timeline) When will it be done, and how often? (Timeline) Where will each task be done? What are milestones along the way, checkpoints and decision points? (M&E) What products will be developed per task, if any? When will these be developed? How will you judge process, progress, and products? (M&E) WHY? WHY? WHY? (Rationale & Justification)

51 Step 8: Develop a Complete, Compliant, Responsive, and Credible Budget
The budget is a proposal too Must respond to & comply with funder requirements Must be easy to read & understand Must be correct—numbers must add up Must be reasonable—within funder’s range for the project Must be credible—proposed costs must align with proposed activities, outputs, and benefits Must align with Work Plan ROI?

52 Tips for preparing your budget proposal
Involve budget/costing specialists early in the project design phase Crucial to identify project costs & develop project budget as you develop project technical approach and statement of work Identify project’s full & real costs EACH ACTIVITY—EACH ACTION—IS A COST Identify possible internal resources for your project— cost sharing if required Identify cost leveraging

53 Major Cost Categories of Costs & Line Items
Personnel (salaries & fringe Benefits) Consultants Services Equipment Supplies Travel Patient care Other Consortium costs Subcontract costs Trainee costs Indirect cost

54 Budget Failures Too high Too low
Not compliant to Agency regulations or program requirements Misaligned with statement of work Incomplete, illogical, and badly written/presented Budget Narrative

55 Why Budgets Matter COMPETENCE ”If we cant do the budget, can we do anything else?” ASSURANCE “We will effectively use grant funds.” “The level of funding is reasonable, and we have sufficient resources to carry out the project and achieve objectives.” VALIDATION Amount and rate of expenditure = scope and timing of activities PROTECTION Calculating full cost protects your organization’s fiscal health and prevents painful surprises RATINGS Proposal budget can be worth 10-20% or more of evaluation points

56 ROI A significant opportunity exists to turn this trash into treasure at a minimal cost to initial investors. The process of converting waste into a marketable compost has been demonstrated worldwide. The current annual market for fertilizer in Afghanistan is $500 million US (500,000 Metric Tons x $50 per 50 KG) as estimated by the CNFA. After the initial start-up year, AWCE anticipates that it will generate 3600 tons of compost annually at an operating cost of $ per ton. Compost will be sold for $ per ton, producing a return of $ per ton. XXX estimates that each day of operation will produce 10 tons of organic compost—resulting in 200 bags of 50 KG compost per day (each ton is estimated to produce 20 bags of 50KG organic fertilizer). XXX will sell each 50KG bag of compost for $ Conservative estimates of output indicate revenues of $3,000 per day; $90,000 per month, or $1 million annually. USAID’s initial investment of XXXXX in equipment and training will garner a return on investment of nearly $3.00 per $1 invested over a one-year horizon.

57 Step 9: Write & Submit an Impeccable Proposal: Some Writing Tips
Project titles matter Transmittal Letter/Cover Letter Use front matter as reviewer’s guides Project Summary Executive Summary – Benefit Oriented Must-have Graphics Marketing Themes Thematic Graphs

58 Step 10: Implement an Impeccable Project
“It matters if you just don't give up.” Stephen Hawking What to do after you submit your proposal: Win, Lose or Draw Reporting Partnership Building Keeping the funder involved Resources available from Towson University

59 Your Next Steps “Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.”
C. D. Jackson

60 20 reasons proposals fail

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