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The SMART Approach to Writing Your Proposal

As we continue with the SMART approach, it’s key to note that relevancy and timeliness are also critical to the success of any proposal. Funders base their decision on granting funds to the applicants that tell a compelling story through the written proposal that matches the funders focus area. The SMART objectives discussed previously were to be as specific as possible, provide a measurable outcome and impact, and achieve a goal. In Part II, we will discuss being relevant to the involved parties and maintaining timely, efficient, deadlines. 

S – Let’s be as Specific as Possible

M – Provide a Measurable Outcome and Impact

A – Achieving a Goal

R – Relevant to the Involved Parties

T – Timely, efficient, and under deadlines

Relevant to the Involved Parties

The relationship between the funder and the applicant is significant to more than just those two parties. It also includes the content being written to apply for funds as well as the people the grant funds will assist. Providing relevancy amongst all parties involved means showing how efficient the outcome will be to obtain the ultimate goal – affecting positive change for individuals and communities in whatever way the organization said they would in the proposal. The elements of a compelling story provide you with the additional details to make it part of the solution.

5 Elements Of A Compelling Story

So what do you say? How can you make the most of the readers’ first 20 seconds to grab their attention?

Know the funder

The more you know about this funder ahead of time, the better. Show the funder you know and care about who they are by clearly and briefly stating their top priorities/values.

Know the need

Show the funder how your objectives align by telling them about the unique needs of the population you serve and how your program is relevant to their preferred funding area. Be clear and brief.

Know the data

Back up the need(s) with clear data. The benefits of all the time and energy you have put into collecting these numbers is two-fold:

  • It proves to this potential funder that this need is very real (and not just perceived)
  • It demonstrates your experience, expertise and authority in your project area, helping this funder take you seriously and assuring them that you are a wise investment

Know the solution

Tell the funder how your goals will help the community. As clearly and concisely as possible, tell the funder how your project solves this problem. In the simplest terms, funders want to know: “what do you do?” If you need funding for a new project, tell the funder what you will do.

Know the outcomes

Again, the results of your impact measurement data can save the day. Stating clear, measurable evidence of how your organization has helped (or clearly stated achievable goals for how your organization will help and who they will help) solidifies your value. It gets the funder excited about partnering with you!

Timely, efficient, and under deadlines

There are many ways to set up a timeline as a visual progress tracker for your team. It can be as simple as using an Excel spreadsheet to log tasks, assignees, and dates, or if your team is more tech-savvy or working remotely, there are many online tools with beautiful, easy-to-use task boards that can integrate team messaging, scheduling, and file sharing all in one place. Regardless of what method you choose, the most important thing is to make sure it has all the relevant information.

Deadlines are critical to ensuring your organization effectively completes both long and short-term goals. In order to encourage a smooth workflow, expectations must be set based on your ability to meet your organization’s demands and the funder criteria. To be efficient and within the guidelines of a deadline, there are three necessary steps in order to keep your priorities realistic.

3 Steps to creating a realistic timeline:

  • Set clear expectations by defining the following: What are the goals? Who is involved/roles? What is the deadline?
  • Get the right resources. This involves mapping out the work that needs to be done from identifying potential funders to reviewing grant requirements to completing the proposal.
  • Develop milestones as checkpoints throughout the process to stay focused and on track.

Pro-Tip: Work backward from the due date to determine appropriate milestone deadlines for your project with “padded time” factored in.

In conclusion, when it comes to writing grants, the goals and objectives section of your proposal can make or break your funding request. The content has to be quantifiable and measurable according to the funder guidelines and criteria to make a significant impact in the decision-making process. Make sure your story is relevant to all parties involved, and it will showcase the strength of your proposal. Adhering to deadlines will allow your organization to be more strategic and efficient when it comes to applying for grants that meet your funding needs. This is where our SMART approach comes into play to assist you with effective planning and embodying your vision of being realistic and adept at submitting the best possible and qualified proposal.

Need some additional tips? Check out our short YouTube video here.

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