• Caroline Savage

Grant Writing Tips - What is a successful grant?

I am a member of the Grant Professionals Association in the USA where we have an ongoing forum for questions. Someone asked this week how we measure success and it is such an awesome question, I thought I would contemplate it for our blog this week.

What is a successful grant?

Measuring success as a grant writer is the key to keeping your sanity in such a competitive situation. Many people look at the success rate, i.e. whether the grant was funded as the main metric. But is that fair and is that right?

Here are a two metrics that I think measure success and ones you may wish to contemplate the next time you work through your grant application.

The most obvious is the award of a grant and it is measured by your win rate. But what is an acceptable win rate? Twenty years ago, about 70% of my submissions were funded. There was more money around and, if you met the eligibility and the aims of the funder, there was a good chance of success and that success was in the millions of dollars of funding. The GFC of '87 was behind us and there was some cash around.

Today, things are different. There are more people/organisations seeking support, amounts have remained about the same and some funders have moved away from grants to other forms of giving. The grants environment has become, in 'grant speak', more competitive.

Your win rate is always subjective. It is based on your organisation, your track record in delivery, your budget and so many more things and then the writing. You see, you can write the best application in the world but if your organisation doesn't stand out, if your track record is less than the competition or your budget is viewed as too expensive, you won't get funded. And what is even more annoying, is even if you are excellent in every aspect, there may not be enough in the funding pot to fund you anyway.

Success, in my view, should be measured in the product you create. I talk a lot in my book about project planning. If the application for funding gets you to develop an amazing project plan, budgeted correctly and showcasing all the outcomes you will deliver to the target group, the grant is a success. Project plans can be adapted, improved upon from funder feedback, reviewed for cost savings or added value and other metrics that will meet future funders' needs. Unlike grant applications, they can be used again. Because you understand and own the process, migrating them to another application is so much easier.

Grant Writing Tips - What is a successful grant?

A successful grant is one where you have developed a viable project plan that can be translated and transformed to meet other funding applications. Whether you get funding in the first or the twentieth submission, a robust project plan will ensure you deliver what you say, meet the outcomes you promise and are able to replicate the activity in other areas and to other target groups.

Well, that's my view. I'd love to hear yours in the comments below or in the forum.

Happy writing!

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

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