Secrets ofreviewers

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  • 09/26/11
  • 09/26/11
  • • They rank the applications. • Lose with them and you’re out. Remember this: your job as a grant writer is to make it easy for the reviewer to find the information that he or she has requested. Do not worry about impressing them with fancy prose, big words, or irrelevant data. The secret is this: give them what they want. 09/26/11
  • The reviewer may or may not be someone involved with the funder. They may be an expert in the field and then again, they may know nothing about it…they may be just someone who raised their hand and said “Sure, I’ll do it.” Make certain you write with this in mind! (“Grandmother test”) Grant reviewing is one of the best forms of professional development for a grant writer, as it helps reveal those secrets of good grant writing and can be invaluable experience. 09/26/11
  • The program officer will gather people who are willing to read and review the grants. Sometimes this happens as a team, but often grants are read and scored individually. The reviewers have the same grant guidelines as you had and often the program officer will go over those guidelines very carefully, just like you, the grant writer, should do. Once the initial reading and reviewing is completed, often the full group will meet and discuss what they’ve read and as a team, they will make the final decision as to which projects get funded and which do not. This process will vary from grant to grant, but essentially it is the same. 09/26/11
  • Being a grant reviewer is a tough job. Often reviewers read dozens of applications. Make it as easy as possible on the reviewers and your chances of success will skyrocket. 09/26/11
  • Research before beginning! Do not submit a proposal to any foundation or funding agent without first verifying that your project fits within the funder's guidelines Guidelines are made available so that proposals submitted will meet the funders’ initiatives. Applications that carefully follow the published guidelines allow reviewers to easily determine if your project is one that matches the funders interests. 09/26/11
  • If you’re uncertain if the guidelines fit your project, calling or emailing the program officer can help you decide. Don’t be afraid to talk with them—even if you feel you understand the grant and it fits, they can often give you insights you wouldn’t get by just reading the guidelines. By talking to the program officer, you may: Find out about the granting organization and understand the reasons they are offering grants Determine what they want in return for the funds —positive publicity, leverage of funds, provide vehicle for in-house volunteers? Discover who actually will be reviewing your application — is it the director, a funding or grants committee, bureaucrats? If the information isn’t available on their Website, You can ask the program officer for examples of recently funded projects, and also for some that have been rejected. Many funders offer workshops to help you better understand the grant opportunity. They are well worth your time! 09/26/11
  • Don’t skip any questions and make sure you answer all parts of each one completely. Keep in mind that acronyms and terms specific to your profession may mean nothing - or may mean something different - to the reviewer. Write your proposal as if you are communicating with someone who knows nothing about your field. If you must use an acronym (CESA 7 is a great example) be sure to spell it out the first time you reference it. 09/26/11
  • Answer the questions in the order that they are asked. If the reviewer criteria are provided with the application (they always are for state and federal grants), structure your answers in a way that makes it easy for a reviewer to go down the benchmark list and check them off. The moment a reviewer has to start flipping back and forth between pages is the moment they lose faith in your application. (and, possibly, in your ability to successfully implement the project plan.) Remember this: your job as a grant writer is to make it easy for the reviewer to find the information that has been requested. 09/26/11
  • Many grants specify that applicants should not include attachments or go over a certain number of pages. Almost always, grant applicants do one or the other. If the grant says no attachments and only XX number of pages, in fairness to those who follow instructions, the reviewers are told to ignore any attachments and information that came after the page limits. Those applicants who include vital information in the attachments or extra pages suffer greatly because reviewers are not allowed to consider them. 09/26/11
  • Some grant writers say if they don’t get the grant they will cease to exist. How many of you would want to fund a project for an organization that thought they might go belly up at any moment? I know I wouldn’t! You may be in a desperate situation, but do not let that tone come through in your grant application. Mentioning how many other grants you have applied for and failed to receive only weakens your credibility. Instead, focus on how this money will help you accomplish your mission. Keep a positive tone. If it is too hard for you to do this, you may need to reevaluate the viability of your program altogether. Make your application come alive in the minds of the grant reviewers. Help them to see your project. Use words that paint a picture of what you want to accomplish. Let them feel your excitement and passion for your work. 09/26/11
  • Put yourself in the place of the reviewers. They read many, many proposals. The more easily and quickly they can determine if your project meets their objectives, the happier they are going to be and the more points your application will receive. A bulleted list or a table is a great way to convey a lot of information in an efficient way. For proposed activities or lists of duties, narratives can get wordy and cloud the information. Lists or tables, on the other hand, are a great way to present the information clearly. As a bonus, you use much fewer words and save valuable space, since most grants have a limit to the number of pages you can submit. 09/26/11
  • Proofreading is imperative! Don’t rely on your computer to do that for you…we all know that it cannot catch all errors. Once you have the final proposal, ask someone who has not been involved in the writing process at all to read the grant for you—several someones is even better! Separate sets of eyes will catch mistakes that you or your writing team may overlook. Submitting a proposal with typos, poor grammar and other errors gives the reviewer the impression that you either don't know better or are willing to submit shoddy work. Outside readers can also give you feedback on how understandable the content really is. If they don’t “get it” neither will the grant reviewers. (“grandmother test”_ 09/26/11
  • Realistic budgets are a must! Research your budget needs carefully before submitting your proposal. Do not ask for more - or less - than you need to ensure your project's success. Reviewers won’t try to guess about mysterious budget entries; they’ll just lower your points! 09/26/11
  • Bring your own resources to the table. Even if you’re not applying for a grant that requires matching funds, every funder wants to get the maximum “bang for their buck”. Identify partners, associated projects, volunteers, supporters, donors, resources, etc. You want to give the reviewer and the funder the sense that you are able to stretch the resources you receive to the maximum amount and that you really believe that your project is important and valuable. Show that you have resources from a variety of places; the broader the support the better. This will demonstrate that you’re a good risk. But, be careful that your partners and resources are related directly to the project. Reviewers are good at detecting bluffs and filler. The mayor of your city may think it’s a great idea to improve your reading program, but unless he’s willing to release city employees to help with it, don’t include him. 09/26/11
  • If the guidelines don’t say you can’t submit more than one proposal, send other solid proposals in… If funders know there is strong interest in their grant, they might even add $$ to the pot for the next year. 09/26/11
  • Win or Lose, the reviewers’ comments can be very useful. Did you win? Knowing why your grant was successful can help you the next time you write, even if it’s for a different funding source. Didn’t win? Use the comments to help you improve and refocus your proposal. Even if it means that you have to completely let go of what you had and begin again. 09/26/11
  • The funding is often limited and reviewers are forced to make determinations as to who will and will not be funded. I know from my own experience as a reviewer that there have been times when I wished I could have funded all the applications that I read, but the resources available wouldn’t allow it or the application was so poorly constructed or that didn’t follow the guidelines that I couldn’t fund them…even though I thought the project was important. 09/26/11
  • 09/26/11
  • Secrets ofreviewers

    1. 1. Secrets of Grant Application Reviewers Presented at: Grant-seeking Skills Workshop Pulaski Community Schools September 27, 2011 Joseph H. Gaunt, Grants Development and Funding Research Green Bay, WisconsinRoxann Nys, CESA 7 Educational Technology Services/Interactive Learning Services 1
    2. 2. Who are you out to impress? 2
    3. 3. THE REVIEWERS !! 3
    4. 4. Profile of the Reviewer •Competent •Objective 4
    5. 5. The Process„ Program Officer - Ringmaster„ Review Teams or Individuals - Read and Assign Points„ Full Group - Reports and Observations 5
    6. 6. Demanding Assignment 6
    7. 7. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Research grants available„ Read all the grant guidelines carefully 7
    8. 8. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Contact the program officer„ Attend any workshops offered 8
    9. 9. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Answer all questions clearly„ AA (Avoid Acronyms) 9
    10. 10. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Organize your proposal in the same way that the application is organized. 10
    11. 11. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Follow directions 11
    12. 12. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Keep your tone positive„ Make your application come alive 12
    13. 13. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Be Concise„ When character/word limits are tight, consider using lists. 13
    14. 14. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Check spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar„ Enlist an outside reader 14
    15. 15. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Keep your budget realistic 15
    16. 16. HOW TO BE A WINNER„ Bring your own resources to the table 16
    17. 17. Double your chances„ If guidelines permit and you have solid proposals - send them both in.„ Can’t hurt.„ More applications, the better the chance of the funding being there next year. 17
    18. 18. Get the Reviewers’ Comments„ Winor„ Lose 18
    19. 19. You are a Winner! 19
    20. 20. to Sharon Stewart Grantwriter CESA #12Ashland, Wisconsin 20

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