Grant writing gold: 3 proven tips and tricks for success

Grants can be a great way to get funding for your startup, but sometimes writing them can be difficult and uncertain. In this article, I’ll outline a few techniques you can use to make sure the time you spend working on a grant comes to fruition. For more sources on where to find grants that match your unique situation, check out the article we wrote about four major  US Government funding sources.

Unlocking Impact: Know Your Audience

Before you begin writing, make sure you’ve selected the right grant for your project. Looking only at the selection criteria and eligibility isn’t enough to know whether or not you are a good fit. Different granting bodies, if they are governmental organizations or other funding bodies often have a mission statement and program description that are key to seeing if you are a good fit. If there is a program officer or manager of any kind in charge of the grant, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to ensure your proposal crosses their desk. If you take the time to build relationships in advance, and meet with them, even if you think you’re a shoe-in, it can be hugely beneficial. This can help you rule out any indicators that your product simply isn’t a fit, and inform your next steps. 

When writing grants, keep in mind who is likely to be reading the application. Sometimes the committee will be indicated on the application, and often the previous members can be viewed as well. The goal of reviewing the committee members is so that you can see the type of base-knowledge and perspective of the people reading your application. Knowing their needs and interests, you can now frame your proposal within their areas of understanding, and get a better idea of how they will evaluate your application. Especially in technology oriented fields, even if your reviewers are technical, they might not be familiar with your specific area of work, so it’s helpful to give a simple, clear and concise foundation in your grant. 

Crafting Cohesion: Align Your Language and Values  

Even if your product meets all of the criteria and interests of the group, you might be using different words to describe similar ideas. A good technique to ensure you’re on the same page is to reflect the words used in the grant outline in your own application. 

If the reviewers can’t get a clear, concise image of what you are trying to create in the first few sentences, your grant is less likely to succeed. It’s a good idea to have someone who has no knowledge of your project review the initial section of the application. The reviewer should be able to easily understand your project and its objectives. When you’re immersed in your own project, it’s easy to forget that most people have absolutely no idea what you are doing. Another key element for success is demonstrating a need for your product or service, by providing a clear and compelling argument for why it is worth funding, you can do this with a brief narrative about someone who needs to produce, or a statistics that indicates a gap or lack of innovation in the area. The easier it is for the reviewer to imagine this product in peoples hands, the more likely they are to help you achieve it!

Unleash Your Creative Genius While Keeping it Real: Be Just the Right Amount of Innovative 

It is tempting to want to promise the world to your granting organization, but your review committee is looking for you to provide a feasible proposal. You’ll want to walk the line between being innovative and reasonable. Especially if your product is ultra unique, it’s even important to provide rationale for achieving this goal, in a way someone not fully familiar with your subject area might understand. Grant proposals that promise massive innovations on tight timelines are usually flagged as unreasonable, so be sure to scope your work properly. While your review committee might not be experts in your field, they are chosen because they have accomplished similar things, and have run into pitfalls you might not encounter. There’s nothing wrong with having a backup plan or being a bit conservative in your roadmap. On the other hand, not being ambitious enough can lead to the same outcome. Being balanced is key! 

If you’ve never written a grant before, it can be a daunting task, but it gets easier once you understand the format most grants use, and learn to communicate about your project more clearly. Writing a grant can also help you to better understand your own roadmap . If you need help getting your idea into a grant, don’t hesitate to reach out to informal and our team of experts. 

Hardware Handbook
Lee Wilkins

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