As a relatively new grandmother, I have learned that transitioning into the grandparent stage of life is truly rewarding and fascinating. Viewing the world with the sponge-like mind of a child reminds us of the simplicity of life.
I was reminded of this during a recent trip to the toy store with my 2 ½ year old granddaughter. It was quite the adventure as we browsed all of the aisles examining the many products designed to encourage the buy activity. She picked up and inspected a multitude of items for brand awareness, interaction, durability and general interest. Once examined, the toys were returned back to their rightful display place. That is, until that special toy appeared! With eyes sparkling with anticipation and the toy clutched tightly in her hands I heard her exclaim, “Grammy, I need this.” At this point a conversation ensued in which we discussed the toy’s suitability for her age, price, and her commitment to playing with and caring for her toy of choice. It dawned on me then that these same principles apply to collaborating with others in grant writing. Like the conversation with my granddaughter, I’ve shared similar considerations with many of the Extension colleagues and clientele with whom I’ve worked. For example:
1) You get nothing if you ask for nothing.
You cannot fear rejection. The grant-writing experience is beneficial even if your particular request is not funded. Generally, your success rate will increase with each submission. And, be sure your request matches the mission of the funding source. After more shopping experiences, my granddaughter should begin to learn what I might likely purchase for her and what I will not.
2) Is it a want or a need?
Before moving forward with your proposal, be sure that you can cite evidence that clearly shows the project will solve a pressing problem and will be good for the community. Use statistics when possible to describe the impact.
3) How will you use this?
Your goals should describe the focus of the project and how the project addresses the need. What are the primary anticipated impacts of this project? The goals may be broad as long as you can identify measurable outcomes. Objectives need to be SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
4) What is the real cost?
Develop a detailed budget that will illustrate the project cost in total. Recognize funding collaborators, detail costs, outline a timeframe, and demonstrate the ability to sustain once the project is completed. Funders (like grandparents) want to make investments that are sensible. For grandparents and funders, ‘feel-good’ investments can be a recipe for disaster.
5) Other key considerations when engaging in grant writing include building relationships with funding sources and being sure to follow grant application guidelines.
Remember these grant writing basics and enjoy the accomplishment of this “grand” option to impact your financial opportunities. Not sure where to start? Ohio State University Extension has resources and talent available to assist in writing a successful grant application.
It’s such a grand thing to be a mother of a mother — that’s why the world calls her grandmother.
Darlene Lukshin is a Program Specialist for OSU Extension Community Development in Washington County (Buckeye Hills EERA).