The term, “grant writing”, should be, “proposal preparation”, and grant writers should be called, “proposal writers”. However you choose to define yourself, or what you do, the common terms are “grant writing” and “grant writers” and we are stuck in that classification! It doesn’t really matter the terminology as long as you are able to get funded! Right?
So, what are the very first steps of preparing a proposal for an agency, organization, university or other entity? Do you find the funding and then find create a problem …oops… I mean project? Or, do you identify your problems, issues, and strategic goals and then look for a funder that fits your needs?
So, getting started….if you are in a smaller environment, such as a non-profit, sit down with board members and staff and even some clients (if appropriate) and make measurable goals (short-term and long-term). Then, list everything that has to happen(actions) and funding that is needed to reach the short-term and long-term goals. After this step, identify where your funding shortages are, volunteers shortages, space….etc. Develop a clear picture of what the organization needs to meet its goals. State organizational needs in terms of “client outcomes”.
What do I mean by client outcomes? Remember when I said earlier about developing measurable goals? If your goals state, “we intend to serve 250 clients by 2015”. and you currently serve 125, then by 2015 you plan to increase the number of clients you serve by 100%. This is a goal that will become part of your funding proposals (grants). You have to know where the organization wants to go to be able to decide what will need to be accomplished to reach the goals. What does the organization need to accomplish the goal? More facilities, staff, etc.?
Make a list of needs, goals, and actions or tasks for your organization and begin to build the “needs statement”. I have listed some sample strategic planning resources. While you may not have time to implement a strategic plan, it can be a goal for the organization. The strategic plan should tie to goals that can be used to seek grant funding.