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A Tool to Make Your Grant Prospecting Easier and More Efficient

If you look in most of your drawers at home, you will see many tools. Tools for eating and cutting food, tools for hammering nails, and tools for writing letters or thank you notes. But wouldn't it be nice to have one tool to do everything? Can you imagine how much easier and more productive life would be?

One of the most non-value-added tasks in a grant writer or development director's life is grant research. After all, the act of grant research can be rather like finding a needle in a haystack. It can take hours or days to find the right grant for your project.
What if I were to tell you there is a tool that can dramatically reduce the time you spend on grant prospecting? That this tool, when used correctly, can essentially ensure you a great grant "fit" for your project. And it can very quickly flesh out the grant-worthiness of your project.
That tool is the project plan. Unfortunately, far too few nonprofits and grant writers use it. Why is a project plan such a valuable tool? It takes time to put one together. Is it really worth it? In my opinion, the answer to this question is a resounding, "Yes!" The plan helps you come up with a keyword list, which invaluable for grant prospecting. It can also help you define your needs and outcomes – or help you to realize you don't have the information you need to craft a compelling proposal. And it can save you writing time by getting your words on paper at the beginning of the grant seeking process. The project plan is a multipurpose tool!
Let's look at the plan's vital components.
Project name. Give your project a catchy name. This will likely be the project title used if you apply for a grant.
Project description. What will your project accomplish? How will you accomplish it?
Anticipated project start date and duration. When will your project start, and how long will it last?
Project contact, email, and phone number. Who will be the project leader? This person should be knowledgeable about the project and available to answer funder questions, should any arise.
Basicproject activities. What will your staff or volunteers do during the project period?
Communityneeds to be addressed by this project. Have you done a needs assessment or a survey to gather evidence to validate the need? If so, outline the results. If not, how do you know the project is needed in your community?
What will change because of this project? In other words, how will life change for the people (or animals or neighborhoods) because of your work? What is the extent of that change, and how many people will benefit?
Past similar projects funded. Has your organization implemented similar projects in the past? If so, find out who funded it before. Can you rekindle that relationship in hopes of renewed or continued funding for the project?
Expected budget (estimated for major activity categories). When you are in the early stages of planning, you may not have an exact budget. But to accurately assess a program's "fit" with a particular funder's giving interests and history, you should know how much funding you need to make the changes you've described possible.
Project'sgeographic focus. Where will project activities take place? Be specific.
Project areas of interest. Will your project address needs in the education system, the arts community, or in healthcare, for example?
Type of support you seek. While this answer may seem obvious since you are looking for a grant, would you also consider in-kind assistance, challenge grants, capacity building, or technical assistance?
Once you've answered those questions, you will have the basic concepts necessary to develop a project plan. Congratulations!
Don't be scared by the time you think it will take to create your project plan. I created a template to walk you through the process. Just click here to get your free copy!
Now, I just need to find that one tool to do everything in my house!