Government grants are intimidating for a reason. They’re complex, specific and, as a rule, are a lot of work. Unlike tax-free income, this is the state or federal government directly giving money out for the completion of a specific project, and they have a vested interest in making sure it goes to the right organization. It often takes some searching to find something on grants.gov that fits your mission and capabilities, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to assume that you’ve found one already. What should you do to maximize your chances of success?
Start early! As in, as early as possible. This process is going to take time, and more importantly you want to leave yourself some padding in case an item takes longer than you expect.
Make a List. Go through the application and write down every single item that will be required. A lot of the time you’ll be filling out an electronic form that won’t allow you to submit something incomplete, but I still find the checklist to be a useful tool for keeping the project on track.
Write a tight, research-oriented narrative. Be concise and persuasive. Not only are the people reading these going through a lot of proposals, they’re deciding where to send funds out of a large geographic area. I usually advocate having your facts serve your emotional appeal, but in the case of government grants you should have your research front and center.
Have everything ready well ahead of the deadline. I usually shoot for about two weeks before. This extra padding time allows for you to find anything you may have missed and, in some cases, the online application will let you know if anything is missing or incorrect. It’s always better to have the extra time to make sure everything is complete and correct.
Hopefully these guidelines will help you get a foothold in the government grant opportunity you have your eye on. Good hunting!