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01/26/09
Grants for Libraries - Thinking Outside the Bookshelves Part 4
Filed under: PROGRAM DESIGN, GRANT WRITING
Posted by: Jon @ 6:25 am

Q. You promised to share “three reasons your past grant proposals may not have been funded.”

A. We just talked about one of them. In my book, I devote at least three chapters to the concept of collaboration with the basic theme, “collaborate or die.” Funding agencies frown upon applicants who try to make a go of it alone. You are expected to collaborate with new partners in new ways. Ultimately, the process of coming up with a fundable concept is really the process of building a new, or expanding an existing, collaborative. Second, most applicant don’t do their homework; that is, research funding agency guidelines to determine exactly what type of programs they do and do not fund. All this information is available in the application and guidelines. Third, they don’t apply. Seriously, most applicants don’t win awards because somewhere along the way they throw in the towel and don’t bother to apply. Understandably, the process can be daunting. But that’s why we published the book, to offer people a step-by-step guide to coming up with a winning concept and then applying for funds in a way that’s going to beat out the competition.

Q. There’s that word competition again. Many don’t apply because the competition is so great and it’s just a crapshoot.

A. It’s only a crapshoot if you write crap. Seriously, I’ve been on the other side of the desk, reading and selecting grants, many times and I can tell you that 80% of submission are sub-par. Why? Applicants haven’t thought it through. They don’t get it right before they write. So, while you may read that for any given grant there may be , let’s say, 200 applicants for five grant awards, I can tell you with great certainty that maybe 40, at best, will be seriously considered. Then, another 25% of those don’t align with the funding agency’s guidelines. Now we’re down to 30-to-1 odds. More than 20% of those will not qualify for technical reasons such as nonprofit status, geographic locations, etc. Now we’re down to 26 and I guarantee more than half of those will be weeded out because their applications lack one of the seven key components to a winning grant applicant. I call those Jon’s Almost World Famous Seven Cs and they are the core of my new book. Now it’s down to 10-to-1. And those ten applications are all excellent candidates to be seriously considered for funding. But then it’s out of your control and – as I say in the book – “in the hands of the Grant Gods.” What we can control is getting to the “seriously considered for funding stage.”

More about this in the next Blog and in my new book: RIGHT BEFORE YOU WRITE: The Groundbreaking Process Used To Win More Than $385 In Competitive Grant Awards.