The Art of Grant Writing 2/3
By: Star Moretz and Maria Gallardo-Williams, Office for Faculty Excellence (OFE) Part Two in a Three Part Series
In part one of this series we asked you to think about your audience when writing a grant. Making sure that you follow directions and that you pitch your writing so that it appeals to reviewers are crucial elements of a successful grant proposal. We covered 4 important parts of the grant-writing process in the first installment of this blog series. In this second installment (parts 5 through 8) we want to focus on the things that will put your grant front and center and that will elevate it over other grant proposals.
When crafting your proposal it is important to remember that funding agencies will be reviewing many submissions. In order for a grant proposal to make the cut, it is imperative that you facilitate the process by making all the right rhetorical moves in your writing to grab and keep the attention of reviewers from beginning to end. You need to tell a compelling and cohesive story that builds a case for funding: Why is it that you or your group should receive this funding over any other applicants?
5. Show why you are the best person/team for this grant: Establishing yourself or your team as the best possible match for the project is a crucial part of getting funded. Make sure that you include any available background information that highlights prior work that might be relevant, making sure to make explicit connections between your prior accomplishments and your ability to be successful in the new endeavor. Show command of the existing literature on the subject, and how you fit into the big picture of your field. If this grant would fund a new line of inquiry it is even more important to show that you are knowledgeable and well-prepared to enter the field, based on prior experience.
6. Find strategic partners: A grant application can be greatly strengthened by the addition of partners. It is nearly impossible for a single faculty member to possess all the expertise that is required to conceive, manage, and execute a large funded project. Leveraging strategic partnerships can make all the difference; it shows that there is a whole team ready to tackle different aspects of the project, and a combined breadth of experience that can assuage any doubts that the reviewers might have about the potential success of your project. However, make sure that all partners are prepared to undertake the work, and that the partnership is authentic and not contrived for the purpose of getting funded. Also, clearly describe the roles of all partners and their expected contributions.
7. Pay attention to detail: Funding agencies have very specific templates, with fonts/size limitations, and required reference templates. It is important to make sure that you meet all of those requirements. But beyond formatting and templates, the most important thing is to address the issues raised by the request for proposals (RFP). Use the RFP as a guide and tailor your proposal document to address it, making sure that the reviewers know that you understand the scope of the problem and that you are an ideal candidate to receive funding. Every aspect included in the grant proposal must line up with the RFP, from the background information to the technical details.
8. Put the deciding reason up front: A grant proposal is not a fairy tale or a mystery novel. You can’t save the big reveal for the end, or you might lose the attention of your reviewers. If there is a compelling reason to choose you and your team for this funding, state it up front and build your case afterwards. Proposals that take too long to get to the point lose the attention of reviewers and may receive lower scores than those that open with a clear statement of purpose and good fit. Don’t make the reviewers search for reasons to fund you, make your opening statement compelling and capture their attention from the very beginning.
And also, stay tuned for our third installment, where we will show you the nuts and bolts of how to put a grant together.