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Making it Happen: The Basics of Grantwriting Claire Howard Grantwriting Solutions, Inc. Phone: 203-624-4552

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Presentation on theme: "Making it Happen: The Basics of Grantwriting Claire Howard Grantwriting Solutions, Inc. Phone: 203-624-4552"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making it Happen: The Basics of Grantwriting Claire Howard Grantwriting Solutions, Inc. Phone: 203-624-4552 Email: Website:

2 Introductions  Name  Organization  What are you hoping to get out of workshop?  Something fun you’ve done the last six months

3 Overview  Federal and Foundation Applications  NIH Grants  Writing Goals and Objectives  Lunch Break  Practice Being a Grant Reviewer  Building Relationships with Funders

4 General Funder Concerns  Why should we fund you? What is unique about your project?  How will you spend our money? How do we know that you won’t come back for more money?  How can you prove that your project is effective?

5 Matching up NIH and Foundation Applications  Abstract  Background  Background and Significance   Needs Statement  Specific Aims  Goals, Objectives, Outcomes  Research Plan   Evaluation Plan and Project Design

6 Federal Grants  Highly competitive  Time Consuming  Very difficult to get the first time around

7 A Word to the Wise  Read and follow the instructions  Misspellings, grammatical errors and incorrect references reflect badly on your judgment  Never assume the reviewer knows what you mean  Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate  Be Unique

8 NIH Grant Sections 1.Abstract 2.Specific Aims 3.Background and Significance 4.Preliminary Studies/Progress Report 5.Research Design

9 The Writing Order 1.Specific Aims 2.Research Design 3.Preliminary Studies/Progress Report 4.Background and Significance 5.Abstract

10 In the beginning  A critical idea is the single most important element of the grant application  The idea must be: Original Nontrivial Add significant new knowledge or fill an existing knowledge gap

11 Abstract  Concise  Plain English – No Jargon  A general outline of what to expect in your narrative Easier to write once the entire application is completed

12 Abstract: Main Content  Hypothesis  Aims  Objectives  What makes your application unique  Any other required information

13 Abstract: Important Considerations  The first section reviewers read  Used for public information and press releases  Needs to fit in the pre-allocated space – less than a page

14 Research Plan  Main section in a NIH grant application  Outlines proposed research, why it is important, and how it will be conducted  Contains four sub-sections: specific aims, background and significance, preliminary studies and progress report, and research design and methods.

15 Research Plan: Tips  Only promise what you can do  Be clear on a timetable  Create an outline first to stay organized

16 Specific Aims  A road map of your grant  Essentially objectives and milestones for your work  Write your aims again and again and again…

17 Specific Aims: Structure  Short introductory paragraph Brief overview of project Significance Central hypothesis or goal  Specific aims Descriptive one line title (key preliminary data supporting hypothesis) Hypothesis/goal Experimental approach (how you will test the hypothesis) Summary sentence (why this experiment is important)

18 Specific Aims: Potential Problem Areas  How many specific aims  Integration of specific aims  Relationship of specific aims to central hypothesis  Goals vs hypotheses  Depth vs breadth  Novelty  Lack of hypotheses  Alternative hypotheses  Organization  Physiological/biological/clinical relevance

19 Background and Significance  Opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the field  K.I.S.S.  Try to leave out jargon and technical terms  Limit to 2-3 pages

20 Background and Significance: What to include  References to current scientific literature How does that previous work fall short? Emphasize the importance of your work, not the importance of the disease or the problem (i.e. the importance of diabetes screening, not how bad diabetes is)  The connection between your work and eventual cures  How does your work fit into NIH’s mission to improve health through science

21 Preliminary Studies  Make sure to include data from other reports Assess it critically Look at where the data has fallen short in the past Use all explanations of a data to show how further exploration is needed and your work will fill that gap  Focus mainly on whatever preliminary data you have developed

22 Research Design and Methods Main Criteria:  Significance  Approach  Innovation  Investigators  Environment

23 1. Significance  Does this study address an important problem?  If the aims are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced?  What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventions that drive this field?

24 2. Approach  Are the conceptual or clinical design, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well reasoned, and appropriate to the aims of the project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?

25 3. Innovation  Is the project original?  Does it challenge existing paradigms or address an innovative hypothesis in the field?  Does the project develop or use novel concepts, approaches, methods, tools, or technologies?

26 4. Investigators  Are the investigators appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers?  Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?

27 5. Environment  Does the scientific environment contribute to the probability of success?  Do the studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment or subject populations or use useful collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support?

28 Budget and Justification  Try to be as accurate with forecasting expenses and salaries  Take into consideration any rules around percentage of overhead expenses  Allow enough time for edits of the budget in a spreadsheet program

29 Process of Reading Grant Applications 1.Sections to read to ensure a fit 2.Read carefully through the entire application with a highlighter and a pencil 3.Use checklist and grading sheet to formulate an outline and plan of action

30 1. Important Sections  Matching requirements During the period of the grant, 25% has to be matched from other sources Becoming more popular with some federal departments. Called leveraging in some foundations  Collaboration requirements  Funding Priority areas

31 1. Other Important Sections  Types of agencies funded Non-profit organizations only or county/city agencies  Submission Deadline  Ways to Submit Application Internet Mail In person/Delivery

32 2. Read Carefully  Read it to get a full and complete understanding of what they want  Take about 30 minutes in a quiet room alone  Jot down important items in the margins or on a separate notebook

33 3. Grading Sheet  Headers on a grading sheet/priorities list become headers for a checklist  Have a list of deadlines on the other side of the sheet

34 Establishing Clear Goals and Objectives  They are the backbone of the evaluation component  Tells a funder where their money is going  Helps you to make a compelling argument for the importance of your project to the public, funders, and others

35 What is a Goal?  A broad statement of general outcomes that do not include specific performance levels  Different Goals: Outcome Activity Bridging

36 Outcome Goals  The final intended consequence of a program for its clients and/or society. Example: Increased access to information on STD prevention.

37 Activity Goals  The internal mechanics of a program and the desired substance and level of clients a program hopes to serve. Example: To provide free asthma screening to young adults.

38 Bridging Goals  Connect activities to outcomes by routing the activities to the consequences, rather than being final ends. Example: Increased awareness of the risks of smoking

39 What makes a good goal  Only one idea (i.e. “lower the rate of diabetes among African-american children through education” needs to be broken into “lower the rate of diabetes among African-american children” and “emphasize education”)  Distinct from each goal (i.e. Goal 1: Determine developmental needs of young children in Westchester, NY and Goal 2: Distribute needs survey to parents of young children in Westchester county, NY)

40 Poorly Worded Goal ORIGINAL Have medically underserved access routine mammography and health education. REWORDED Increase access to mammograms among medically underserved women.

41 What is an Objective?  A specific, measurable statement of the desired immediate or direct outcomes of the program  Objectives are the outcomes of your activities – not the actual activities Activities = means Objectives = ends

42 Good Objectives  Begin with: To increase… To decrease… To reduce… To achieve… To insure…

43 Objectives should answer  Who…  Is going to be doing what…  When…  How much …  How we will measure …

44 Example Provide culturally sensitive breast health education to 200 medically underserved women.  Who ….medically underserved women  Is going to be doing what … ?  When ….?  How much …. 200 more than what?  How we will measure it ….?

45 Rewritten Objective To increase, by September 2006, access to mammograms among women without health coverage in Westchester county, NY by 10% as measured by the NY Health Department.

46 Going through the questions  Who… women without health coverage  Is going to be doing what… increase their access to mammograms  When… by September 2006  How much… 10% increase  How we will measure it… state Department of Health count of number of mammograms

47 Exercise  Formulate a Goal and Objective for your Agency/Program within your Agency  Break into groups of three and take turns sharing and editing each others goals and objectives

48 When writing a grant application  Don’t use lots of jargon  Be concise  Be specific  Start with an outline  Answer the question(s) written

49 When Editing the Application  Length requirements  Present a clear compelling case  Grammar  Make sure everything is very logically laid out  Don’t reference sections that don’t exist

50 Mindset of a Reviewer  Compares grant applications to the ideal standard not to each other  The 12-12-12 rule Pulled a 12 hour workday Its now 12 midnight 12 th Proposal in a large stack

51 Creating a Scoring Sheet: Federal Grants  Points explicitly stated on some agency applications  Guidelines and Priorities also explicitly stated  Easy to translate into an outline and a grading sheet

52 Creating a Scoring Sheet: Foundation Grants  Priority areas can be less clear Need to read in between the lines and jargon Not just application, but explicit foundation giving preferences Annual reports or any public information on prior grantees  Sometimes graded by peer reviewers, mostly by a program officer Remember the 12-12-12 rule

53 Process of Relationship Building Acknowledgement Research Introduction Build Relationship The Ask

54 Step One: Research

55 Get Organized  Develop Note Keeping Methods Microsoft word file Hand written file/notes  Make a decision on the most convenient method and stick to it

56 What do you know?  Write down everything you know about the individual/foundation and organize into sections.  Read all information  Identify gaps in your information  What questions are not answered?

57 Questions on the Foundation  What kind of foundation is it? Community, Family, Corporate?  What is the foundations geographic range? National, Regional, State, Local?  What’s their strategic focus?  What are their affiliations? Conservative, Humanitarian, Liberate, Moderate

58 Finding Information: Foundations  Foundations Website Press Releases Annual Reports  Memberships in other coalitions and efforts  Collaborations with other foundations

59 Review Information  Re-read all gathered information  Look for connections: Membership in Similar Community Organizations Similar issues of concern Attendance at same church or church affiliation Children attend same school, little league, drill team, basketball etc Political affiliations Neighbors, co-workers, board members know them

60 Step Two: The Introduction

61 Planning an Introduction  Make a list of possible ways of obtaining an introduction from list of connections/threads.  When  Where  By whom

62 Preparing  Decide on the 2 best methods of obtaining an introduction  Refine and define each method  Rehearse each method  Decide on which method is the best one (prioritize) Stick to the method that you decide on

63 What to do  Cheerful and positive  Dress appropriately  Show interest  Have appropriate questions  Light and friendly exchanges  Professional behavior  Exchange business cards  Keep it brief

64 What to not do  Ask for money  Ask personal questions  Make negative comments  Talk excessively about agency  Stalker-like behavior  Press for commitment

65 Role-playing Exercise Roles: 1.Foundation Program Officer 2.Colleague 3.Agency staff member A colleague knows the program officer of the foundation and has agreed to introduce the Agency staff to the program officer at a conference co-sponsored by the foundation.

66 After the Introduction  Document the first introduction  Analyze the introduction  Did you accomplish your goal?  What did you learn that you did not know?  Develop more connections/threads

67 Step Three: Building a Relationship

68 Planning your Approach  Based on research, figure out what you have in common with the person (committees, etc)  Based on that information, decide events, etc that are of common interest that you can approach the person at for short conversations  Make sure that these are events, things that are already of interest to you or that you are already involved in (to avoid stalker-like behavior)

69 Things to Do  Go up and re-introduce yourself  Have business cards with a brochure to exchange  Converse on a topic of interest to the person  Ask questions that are of mutual interest  Be friendly and cheerful but informative  Leave with something definite you will do or the individual will do Whatever you ask of them, it should be simple and easy to do.

70 Things not to Do  Talk excessively about the agency or yourself  Be negative about issues she likes or about the foundation  Angry and argumentative  Not dressed appropriately.  Ask for a monetary commitment

71 Document the Contact  Jot down notes and observations  Analyze the meeting  Ask yourself: Did you accomplish your goal? What would you do different?

72 Things to do: Foundation  Send the newsletter and agency brochure with a personal note attached  Call in two weeks to follow up on information sent and request a meeting  Be flexible and allow them to set the date, time, and location

73 Preparation for the Meeting: Foundation  Be prepared to discuss your agency and the program  Ask for feedback on the program idea and take notes.  Ask if it is something that the foundation would have an interest in funding. If you have completed your homework you know what the funding priorities are.  Make sure to thank them at the end of the meeting.

74 Step Four: The Ask

75 Foundation: The Meeting  Discuss your agency and have a packet of information  Present program idea/concept  Ask for feedback  Take notes  Ask if program fits into foundations mission and giving strategy

76 Step Five: Acknowledgement/Thank You

77 Acknowledgement and Thank You: Foundation  Put their name on the agency’s mailing list.  Follow their guide lines for record keeping  Attend foundation’s functions  Invite to agency’s top events and send tickets (be there to greet them personally)  Keep abreast of their funding priorities.  Do another ask within a year depending on guidelines.

78 Keep the Relationship Going  Include their name on the agency’s mailing list.  Be sure to send birthday and holiday cards  Invite to important agency events and always be there to greet them personally  Get the person involved in the agency as a volunteer if possible.  Ask for names of friends to contact.  Do not forget them – maintain the relationship and do another ask

79 General Federal Grant Resources  Websites outlined on handout  Most important thing to do is allow yourself a lot of time  Get a fresh set of eyes to read and edit the applications Use a peer review network Professional firms

80 General Foundation Resources  Foundation Center Classes and Books  Regional/Local United Ways  NY or Regional Association of Non-Profits

81 Important Presentation“Take Aways” 1.Central Funder Concerns 2.Lead with strong goals and objectives 3.Develop relationships with potential foundations 4.Writing tips 5.Establish systems to review and edit your application

82 General Funder Concerns  Why should we fund you? What is unique about your project?  How will you spend our money? How do we know that you won’t come back for more money?  How can you prove that your project is effective?

83 Lead with strong goals and objectives  Goals: A broad statement of general outcomes that do not include specific performance levels  Objectives: the outcomes of your activities – not the actual activities Who… Is going to be doing what… When… How much … How we will measure …

84 Process of Relationship Building Acknowledgement Research Introduction Build Relationship The Ask

85 Writing Tips  Grammar  Be concise  Start with an outline  Length Requirements  Don’t rely on grammar

86 Reviewing Systems  Create a score sheet Have a colleague or friend review and score application  Give verbal overview of project to foundation staff if possible  Remember the 12-12-12 rule


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