Scoping it Out - Health Sciences Library

Making it Happen:
The Basics of Grantwriting
Claire Howard
Grantwriting Solutions, Inc.
Phone: 203-624-4552
Email: [email protected]
 Name
 Organization
 What are you hoping to get out of workshop?
 Something fun you’ve done the last six
 Federal and Foundation Applications
 NIH Grants
 Writing Goals and Objectives
 Lunch Break
 Practice Being a Grant Reviewer
 Building Relationships with Funders
General Funder Concerns
 Why should we fund you?
What is unique about your project?
 How will you spend our money?
How do we know that you won’t come back for
more money?
 How can you prove that your project is
Matching up NIH and
Foundation Applications
 Abstract  Background
 Background and Significance   Needs
 Specific Aims  Goals, Objectives,
 Research Plan   Evaluation Plan and
Project Design
Federal Grants
 Highly competitive
 Time Consuming
 Very difficult to get the first time around
A Word to the Wise
 Read and follow the instructions
 Misspellings, grammatical errors and incorrect
references reflect badly on your judgment
 Never assume the reviewer knows what you mean
 Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
 Be Unique
NIH Grant Sections
Specific Aims
Background and Significance
Preliminary Studies/Progress Report
Research Design
The Writing Order
Specific Aims
Research Design
Preliminary Studies/Progress Report
Background and Significance
In the beginning
 A critical idea is the single most important
element of the grant application
 The idea must be:
Add significant new knowledge or fill an
existing knowledge gap
 Concise
 Plain English – No Jargon
 A general outline of what to expect in your
Easier to write once the entire application is
Abstract: Main Content
 Hypothesis
 Aims
 Objectives
 What makes your application unique
 Any other required information
Abstract: Important
 The first section reviewers read
 Used for public information and press
 Needs to fit in the pre-allocated space – less
than a page
Research Plan
 Main section in a NIH grant application
 Outlines proposed research, why it is
important, and how it will be conducted
 Contains four sub-sections: specific aims,
background and significance, preliminary
studies and progress report, and research
design and methods.
Research Plan: Tips
 Only promise what you can do
 Be clear on a timetable
 Create an outline first to stay organized
Specific Aims
 A road map of your grant
 Essentially objectives and milestones for
your work
 Write your aims again and again and again…
Specific Aims: Structure
 Short introductory paragraph
Brief overview of project
Central hypothesis or goal
 Specific aims
Descriptive one line title
(key preliminary data supporting hypothesis)
Experimental approach (how you will test the
Summary sentence (why this experiment is important)
Specific Aims: Potential
Problem Areas
How many specific aims
Integration of specific aims
Relationship of specific aims to central hypothesis
Goals vs hypotheses
Depth vs breadth
Lack of hypotheses
Alternative hypotheses
Physiological/biological/clinical relevance
Background and Significance
 Opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the
 K.I.S.S.
 Try to leave out jargon and technical terms
 Limit to 2-3 pages
Background and Significance:
What to include
 References to current scientific literature
How does that previous work fall short?
Emphasize the importance of your work, not the
importance of the disease or the problem (i.e. the
importance of diabetes screening, not how bad diabetes
 The connection between your work and eventual
 How does your work fit into NIH’s mission to
improve health through science
Preliminary Studies
 Make sure to include data from other reports
Assess it critically
Look at where the data has fallen short in the past
Use all explanations of a data to show how further
exploration is needed and your work will fill that gap
 Focus mainly on whatever preliminary data you
have developed
Research Design and Methods
Main Criteria:
 Significance
 Approach
 Innovation
 Investigators
 Environment
1. Significance
 Does this study address an important
 If the aims are achieved, how will scientific
knowledge be advanced?
 What will be the effect of these studies on
the concepts, methods, technologies,
treatments, services, or preventions that drive
this field?
2. Approach
 Are the conceptual or clinical design, and
analyses adequately developed, well
integrated, well reasoned, and appropriate to
the aims of the project?
 Does the applicant acknowledge potential
problem areas and consider alternative
3. Innovation
 Is the project original?
 Does it challenge existing paradigms or
address an innovative hypothesis in the field?
 Does the project develop or use novel
concepts, approaches, methods, tools, or
4. Investigators
 Are the investigators appropriately trained
and well suited to carry out this work?
 Is the work proposed appropriate to the
experience level of the principal investigator
and other researchers?
 Does the investigative team bring
complementary and integrated expertise to
the project (if applicable)?
5. Environment
 Does the scientific environment contribute to
the probability of success?
 Do the studies benefit from unique features
of the scientific environment or subject
populations or use useful collaborative
 Is there evidence of institutional support?
Budget and Justification
 Try to be as accurate with forecasting
expenses and salaries
 Take into consideration any rules around
percentage of overhead expenses
 Allow enough time for edits of the budget in
a spreadsheet program
Process of Reading Grant
1. Sections to read to ensure a fit
2. Read carefully through the entire
application with a highlighter and a pencil
3. Use checklist and grading sheet to
formulate an outline and plan of action
1. Important Sections
 Matching requirements
During the period of the grant, 25% has to be
matched from other sources
Becoming more popular with some federal
Called leveraging in some foundations
 Collaboration requirements
 Funding Priority areas
1. Other Important Sections
 Types of agencies funded
Non-profit organizations only or county/city
 Submission Deadline
 Ways to Submit Application
In person/Delivery
2. Read Carefully
 Read it to get a full and complete
understanding of what they want
 Take about 30 minutes in a quiet room alone
 Jot down important items in the margins or
on a separate notebook
3. Grading Sheet
 Headers on a grading sheet/priorities list
become headers for a checklist
 Have a list of deadlines on the other side of
the sheet
Establishing Clear Goals and
 They are the backbone of the evaluation
 Tells a funder where their money is going
 Helps you to make a compelling argument
for the importance of your project to the
public, funders, and others
What is a Goal?
 A broad statement of general outcomes that
do not include specific performance levels
 Different Goals:
Outcome Goals
 The final intended consequence of a program
for its clients and/or society.
Example: Increased access to information on
STD prevention.
Activity Goals
 The internal mechanics of a program and the
desired substance and level of clients a
program hopes to serve.
Example: To provide free asthma screening to
young adults.
Bridging Goals
 Connect activities to outcomes by routing the
activities to the consequences, rather than
being final ends.
Example: Increased awareness of the risks of
What makes a good goal
 Only one idea (i.e. “lower the rate of diabetes
among African-american children through
education” needs to be broken into “lower the rate
of diabetes among African-american children” and
“emphasize education”)
 Distinct from each goal (i.e. Goal 1: Determine
developmental needs of young children in
Westchester, NY and Goal 2: Distribute needs
survey to parents of young children in Westchester
county, NY)
Poorly Worded Goal
Have medically underserved access routine
mammography and health education.
Increase access to mammograms among
medically underserved women.
What is an Objective?
 A specific, measurable statement of the
desired immediate or direct outcomes of the
 Objectives are the outcomes of your
activities – not the actual activities
Activities = means
Objectives = ends
Good Objectives
 Begin with:
To increase…
To decrease…
To reduce…
To achieve…
To insure…
Objectives should answer
 Who…
 Is going to be doing what…
 When…
 How much …
 How we will measure …
Provide culturally sensitive breast health education to
200 medically underserved women.
 Who….medically underserved women
 Is going to be doing what… ?
 When….?
 How much …. 200 more than what?
 How we will measure it….?
Rewritten Objective
To increase, by September 2006, access to
mammograms among women without health
coverage in Westchester county, NY by 10%
as measured by the NY Health Department.
Going through the questions
 Who… women without health coverage
 Is going to be doing what… increase their
access to mammograms
 When… by September 2006
 How much… 10% increase
 How we will measure it… state Department
of Health count of number of mammograms
 Formulate a Goal and Objective for your
Agency/Program within your Agency
 Break into groups of three and take turns
sharing and editing each others goals and
When writing a grant
 Don’t use lots of jargon
 Be concise
 Be specific
 Start with an outline
 Answer the question(s) written
When Editing the Application
 Length requirements
 Present a clear compelling case
 Grammar
 Make sure everything is very logically laid
 Don’t reference sections that don’t exist
Mindset of a Reviewer
 Compares grant applications to the ideal
standard not to each other
 The 12-12-12 rule
Pulled a 12 hour workday
Its now 12 midnight
12th Proposal in a large stack
Creating a Scoring Sheet:
Federal Grants
 Points explicitly stated on some agency
 Guidelines and Priorities also explicitly
 Easy to translate into an outline and a
grading sheet
Creating a Scoring Sheet:
Foundation Grants
 Priority areas can be less clear
Need to read in between the lines and jargon
Not just application, but explicit foundation giving
Annual reports or any public information on prior
 Sometimes graded by peer reviewers, mostly by a
program officer
Remember the 12-12-12 rule
Process of Relationship
The Ask
Build Relationship
Step One: Research
Get Organized
 Develop Note Keeping Methods
Microsoft word file
Hand written file/notes
 Make a decision on the most convenient
method and stick to it
What do you know?
 Write down everything you know about the
individual/foundation and organize into
 Read all information
 Identify gaps in your information
 What questions are not answered?
Questions on the
 What kind of foundation is it?
Community, Family, Corporate?
 What is the foundations geographic range?
National, Regional, State, Local?
 What’s their strategic focus?
 What are their affiliations?
Conservative, Humanitarian, Liberate,
Finding Information:
 Foundations Website
Press Releases
Annual Reports
 Memberships in other coalitions and efforts
 Collaborations with other foundations
Review Information
 Re-read all gathered information
 Look for connections:
Membership in Similar Community Organizations
Similar issues of concern
Attendance at same church or church affiliation
Children attend same school, little league, drill team,
basketball etc
Political affiliations
Neighbors, co-workers, board members know them
Step Two: The Introduction
Planning an Introduction
 Make a list of possible ways of
obtaining an introduction from list of
 When
 Where
 By whom
 Decide on the 2 best methods of obtaining
an introduction
 Refine and define each method
 Rehearse each method
 Decide on which method is the best one
Stick to the method that you decide on
What to do
Cheerful and positive
Dress appropriately
Show interest
Have appropriate questions
Light and friendly exchanges
Professional behavior
Exchange business cards
Keep it brief
What to not do
 Ask for money
 Ask personal questions
 Make negative comments
 Talk excessively about agency
 Stalker-like behavior
 Press for commitment
Role-playing Exercise
1. Foundation Program Officer
2. Colleague
3. Agency staff member
A colleague knows the program officer of the foundation and has
agreed to introduce the Agency staff to the program officer at a
conference co-sponsored by the foundation.
After the Introduction
 Document the first introduction
 Analyze the introduction
 Did you accomplish your goal?
 What did you learn that you did not know?
 Develop more connections/threads
Step Three: Building a
Planning your Approach
 Based on research, figure out what you have in
common with the person (committees, etc)
 Based on that information, decide events, etc that
are of common interest that you can approach the
person at for short conversations
 Make sure that these are events, things that are
already of interest to you or that you are already
involved in (to avoid stalker-like behavior)
Things to Do
Go up and re-introduce yourself
Have business cards with a brochure to exchange
Converse on a topic of interest to the person
Ask questions that are of mutual interest
Be friendly and cheerful but informative
Leave with something definite you will do or the
individual will do
Whatever you ask of them, it should be simple and easy
to do.
Things not to Do
 Talk excessively about the agency or yourself
 Be negative about issues she likes or about the
 Angry and argumentative
 Not dressed appropriately.
 Ask for a monetary commitment
Document the Contact
 Jot down notes and observations
 Analyze the meeting
 Ask yourself:
Did you accomplish your goal?
What would you do different?
Things to do: Foundation
 Send the newsletter and agency brochure
with a personal note attached
 Call in two weeks to follow up on
information sent and request a meeting
 Be flexible and allow them to set the date,
time, and location
Preparation for the
Meeting: Foundation
 Be prepared to discuss your agency and the
 Ask for feedback on the program idea and take
 Ask if it is something that the foundation would
have an interest in funding.
If you have completed your homework you know
what the funding priorities are.
 Make sure to thank them at the end of the
Step Four: The Ask
Foundation: The Meeting
 Discuss your agency and have a packet of
 Present program idea/concept
 Ask for feedback
 Take notes
 Ask if program fits into foundations mission
and giving strategy
Step Five:
Acknowledgement/Thank You
Acknowledgement and
Thank You: Foundation
 Put their name on the agency’s mailing list.
 Follow their guide lines for record keeping
 Attend foundation’s functions
 Invite to agency’s top events and send
tickets (be there to greet them personally)
 Keep abreast of their funding priorities.
 Do another ask within a year depending on
guidelines .
Keep the Relationship
 Include their name on the agency’s mailing list.
 Be sure to send birthday and holiday cards
 Invite to important agency events and always be
there to greet them personally
 Get the person involved in the agency as a
volunteer if possible.
 Ask for names of friends to contact.
 Do not forget them – maintain the relationship and
do another ask
General Federal Grant
 Websites outlined on handout
 Most important thing to do is allow yourself
a lot of time
 Get a fresh set of eyes to read and edit the
Use a peer review network
Professional firms
General Foundation Resources
 Foundation Center Classes and Books
 Regional/Local United Ways
 NY or Regional Association of Non-Profits
Important Presentation“Take
1. Central Funder Concerns
2. Lead with strong goals and objectives
3. Develop relationships with potential
4. Writing tips
5. Establish systems to review and edit your
General Funder Concerns
 Why should we fund you?
What is unique about your project?
 How will you spend our money?
How do we know that you won’t come back for
more money?
 How can you prove that your project is
Lead with strong goals and
 Goals: A broad statement of general outcomes that
do not include specific performance levels
 Objectives: the outcomes of your activities – not
the actual activities
Is going to be doing what…
How much …
How we will measure …
Process of Relationship Building
The Ask
Build Relationship
Writing Tips
 Grammar
 Be concise
 Start with an outline
 Length Requirements
 Don’t rely on grammar
Reviewing Systems
 Create a score sheet
Have a colleague or friend review and score
 Give verbal overview of project to
foundation staff if possible
 Remember the 12-12-12 rule

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