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Structure: Grant Proposal Sanity

It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations continue to work hard and not smart in terms of grant development. I often hear how comprehensive grant proposals make people "insane." It doesn't have to be that way. Typically, the real issue stems from a lack of structures and processes.

To be strategic about grant development, it is critical that organizations have some sort of structure in place. I recommend an organization-wide grant advisory group for consideration.

The grant advisory group is tasked with developing a short and long-term grant development strategy and advises on post-award matters. Items this group is tasked with can include and are not limited to:

• Take stock of all past and current grants to better coordinate and create coherence, especially when there is overlapping work among grants.
• Recommend grants to pursue based on criteria that includes capacity, sustainability, ability to create realistic and ambitious objectives, personnel, etc.
• Recommend members to form grant teams to prepare early for upcoming request for proposals. The graphic above illustrates three grant teams formed for three different grant initiatives. If an external consultant is leveraged, she can work directly with the grant teams to support the proposal process.
• Provide guidance on matters of indirect costs, matching, post-award institutionalization requirements, and other policies related to grants.

If your organization yearns for grant proposal sanity, consider implementing the structure above. I recommend meeting at least once a month for the first six to twelve months. To ensure that these settings are highly productive, please read these important tips for conducting productive meetings, and consider incorporating the Five Process Elements to help ensure a seamless transition from proposal to implementation. Also, given the significant rise in Logic Models in grant proposals, read this post to learn the basics.


If interested in workshops, pre and/or post-award support, use the contact form to the right of the page (bottom of the page for mobile users)
Pre-award: training, grant writing, project design, facilitation, editing
Post-award: evaluation, Project Director/Principal Investigator coaching

(A. Solano)

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