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The State of Collaboration in Grant Proposal Development. Presented by: Rebecca Priest Senior Director of Emerging Technologies & Strategic Grant Development Stark State College. The State of Collaboration . . . It’s a smart thing to do It’s welcomed by many funding sources

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the state of collaboration in grant proposal development

The State of Collaboration in Grant Proposal Development

Presented by:

Rebecca Priest

Senior Director of Emerging Technologies

& Strategic Grant Development

Stark State College

the state of collaboration
The State of Collaboration . . .
  • It’s a smart thing to do
  • It’s welcomed by many funding sources
  • It’s sometimes required by funding sources
why is collaboration smart
Why is collaboration smart?
  • It can strengthen your proposal/project
  • It can make your funding source think they are getting a bigger bang for their buck
  • It can broaden the scope of your project
  • It can make your project have greater impact
  • It can lead to relationship growth with partner organizations
example of my last point
Example of my last point:

Stark State College’s partnership with Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems (US), Inc. (RRFCS)


It started in 2002 with the following organizations talking with each other: SOFCo-EFS, Stark Development Board, Stark State College and Case Western Reserve University

  • Together we sought and received $3.35M of Ohio Third Frontier funds to build a Fuel Cell Prototyping Center on Stark State’s campus
  • Since 2002, that $3.35M has grown to $21M+ in fuel cell-related projects on our campus
the result stark state
The result? Stark State . . .
  • Developed a fuel cell option in MET
  • Coordinates the 5-state Great Lakes Fuel Cell Education Partnership funded by National Science Foundation
  • Leases FCPC to RRFCS-US, now the company’s global headquarters

Expanded FCPC to enable RRFCS to expand its R&D capacity

  • Renovated our Advanced Technology Center to enable Contained Energy, Inc. and Lockheed Martin to conduct fuel cell research on campus
  • Received grant support from Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, State Legislature; OBR; NSF; and U.S. Departments of Education, Energy, Defense and SBA
it s amazing what can happen when a few organizations start talking and decide to collaborate
It’s amazing what can happen when a few organizations start talking . . . and decide to collaborate.
other grant partnerships we ve been part of
Other grant partnershipswe’ve been part of…

Great Lakes Fuel Cell Education Partnership

  • Penn State University
  • Lansing Community College (MI)
  • Kettering University (MI)
  • Rennselear University (NY)
  • Vincennes University (IN)
  • Business partners in multiple states
expanding capacity in healthcare occupations dol cbjtg
Expanding Capacity in Healthcare Occupations (DOL CBJTG)

Partnership includes:

  • Holmes, Medina, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne County WIAs
  • Stark Development Board
  • 5 area hospitals
  • Tech Prep Consortium
  • 2 Adult Career & Technical Education providers
  • 2 university partners
dol green jobs collaborative
DOL “Green Jobs” Collaborative

Proposal encompassed 16-county NE Ohio region

  • United Labor Agency (Cleveland)
  • Great Lakes Wind Network
  • Cuyahoga Community College
  • Eastern Gateway Community College
  • Lakeland Community College
  • Lorain County Community College
  • United Auto Workers, Region 2B
other organizations we ve collaborated with
Other organizations we’ve collaborated with . . .
  • Stark Co. Education Service Center
  • Stark Education Partnership
  • UA, KSU, Toledo, OSU
  • First Energy
  • Defense Metals Technology Center (SSC)
some new partnerships under development
Some new partnerships under development
  • The Timken Co., Canton

bearings for wind turbines

  • Kohler Coating, Canton

corrugating packaging processes

  • Will-Burt Co., Orrville

portable telescoping mast for military apps

characteristics of a successful grant seeker
Characteristics of a successful grant seeker:
  • Salesmanship
  • Communication skills
  • Ingenuity & flexibility
  • Research skills
  • Administrative skills (well organized)
  • Human relations skills
  • Good follow-through
  • Perseverance & dedication
  • Persistent
stark state s grant system
Stark State’s grant system
  • Mission of Strategic Grant Development Office is to link institutional needs with available resources
  • The primary responsibility for development of a proposal lies within the administrative structure of the division in which the project takes place.
  • The responsibility of the Strategic Grant Development Office is to assist faculty and staff in translating the idea into a plan….assist with the development of a proposal….assist with budget construction….
our internal process
Our internal process
  • Develop idea
  • Gain support for your project idea from people who “count”
  • Submit Application to Develop Project with Grant Support to Strategic Grants Office signed by dean of area where project is being initiated
  • Receive approval of Executive Council before proceeding
how ideas evolve
How ideas evolve

Grant proposals generally get developed by 1 of 2 ways:

  • To resolve a problem or because someone has an idea for doing something different or better


  • Because funding is available and an organization decides to develop a project that addresses the goals of that funding opportunity
grant seeking is 6 step process
Grant seeking is 6-step process
  • Identifying or recognizing a problem
  • Generating an idea to solve the problem (the solution)
  • Determining if the idea furthers the mission and goals of your organization
  • Researching potential sponsors to find a match between your idea and the sponsor’s priorities
  • Designing, writing and submitting a proposal that follows the sponsor’s guidelines
  • Implementing your solution to the problem
questions to answer in clarifying needs ideas
Questions to answer in clarifying needs/ideas:
  • What is its significance and scope?
  • What are others doing to solve the need?
  • What aspects of the problem can we realistically attempt to solve in the short and long term?
  • What is the target population?
  • Can the benefits to the target population be measured?
  • Is solving the need a priority within our organization -- our community?
transforming ideas into a proposal
Transforming ideas into a proposal
  • It’s never too early to start!
  • Get organized
  • Form a proposal design team
  • Develop a schedule
  • Get started!
definition of proposal
Definition of “proposal”

A proposal is a persuasive document that defines a problem or need, proposes solutions to that problem and requests funding or other resources to implement the solution.

types of individuals to recruit for proposal design team
Task Master

Risk Taker



Devil’s Advocate





Information Nut

Types of individuals to recruit for proposal design team
essential design team members
Essential design team members
  • Supervising administrator
  • Project developer/manager
  • Resource development officer
  • Collaborating departments/agencies
  • Budget specialist
why use proposal design team
Why use proposal design team?
  • To create a project that will be successfully implemented
  • To increase quality of proposal
  • To create ownership in project
  • To encourage participation
  • To encourage teaming and consensus building
what is an rfp
What is an RFP?

The most common announcement of the availability of grant funds is called a Request for Proposal (RFP)

Other terms used for the same thing include:

  • Guidelines
  • SGA (DOL)
how to interpret an rfp
How To Interpret an RFP
  • After you have identified a promising sponsor, you need to review its goals, priorities and RFP to determine if it is a close enough match to take the time and effort to prepare and submit a proposal
  • Being selective in which ones you pursue will most likely give you a higher funding ratio of successfully funded projects to proposals submitted
  • Don’t spend all of your time responding to all RFPs that remotely resemble what you want to do. They should closely relate to your project idea.
developing the proposal what really counts
Developing the proposal: what really counts
  • The proposal
  • The Concept or Idea
  • Connection to and with the Grant Maker
typical proposal sequence
Cover letter

Title Page






Key Personnel



Future of Project



Typical proposal sequence
typical sequence of development of proposal



Key Personnel



Future of Project


Title Page



Cover Letter

Typical sequence of development of proposal
need statement
Need statement
  • You must articulate the problem in a need statement that makes the problem and solution clear to internal and external audiences.
  • The statement should be a succinct, yet persuasive, description of the problem, what you propose to do to solve the problem and a statement of what you want the sponsor (funding organization) to do after reading your proposal.
key point to remember
Key Point To Remember…

When drafting your need statement, remember that proposals are written and projects are developed to help people.

3 elements to need statement
3 elements to need statement
  • Description of the problem
  • What you and your organization plan to do to solve the problem
  • Statement of your “instrumental purpose,” i.e., what you want the sponsor to do after reading your proposal
description of problem 3 parts
Description of problem - 3 parts
  • Context of the problem
  • Justification for why the problem is important to solve and explains its scope
  • Aspect of the problem you want to solve
context of problem
Context of Problem
  • Define or describe the problem so that other people can understand it, identify with it and recognize its importance
  • If appropriate, describe what larger societal problem or organizational problem your proposed project contributes to solving
  • Convince the readers that addressing this problem is timely, compelling and urgent.
  • Demonstrate why it is important to solve this problem now and justify spending time, money and energy on it.
  • Tell the readers how large the problem is, how wide-ranging it is and how many people are affected by it (locally and nationally).
aspect of problem you want to solve
Aspect of problem you want to solve
  • If you are choosing a large societal problem to work on, be realistic about selecting part of the problem to solve rather than the entire thing which you are most likely not prepared to do
2 nd element of need statement
2nd element of need statement

What you and your organization plan to do to solve the problem – who, what, when, where, why (the “so what” is provided through the entire need statement)

While this section is brief in the need statement, it provides the basis for your project methodology that appears later on in the proposal

3rd element of need statement
3rd element of need statement

Statement of your instrumental purpose – what you want the sponsor to do after reading the proposal

What is it you want the sponsor to do after reading your proposal? Don’t forget to ask!

how to be compelling
How to be compelling

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Determine the most effective rhetorical strategies to incorporate in your proposal to persuade sponsors to award you a grant.

There are 3 types:

  • Rational appeal
  • Emotional appeal
  • Appeal to character and credibility of organization
rational appeal
Rational appeal
  • It cites facts, figures and statistics to build your case
  • It uses deductive reasoning and inductive examples to support claims you make
  • Uses causal logic
  • Most often used in proposals to federal agencies
emotional appeal
Emotional appeal
  • Provides readers with information that enables them to empathize or sympathize with the target audience for the proposal
  • Often are presented as case studies or individual profiles which arouse the readers’ emotions and stimulate their desire to help
  • Often used in combination with rational and credibility appeals when approaching small and mid-sized foundations
character credibility appeal
Character/Credibility Appeal
  • This appeal demonstrates the credibility and character of your organization and its ability to provide quality project leadership based on previous successful experiences
  • Is absolutely necessary in proposals to federal agencies and other large organizations, but also needs to be incorporated into proposals to small and mid-sized foundations
problem statement need
Problem statement/need
  • Use specific examples/statistics
  • “Sell” your program, not the organization
  • Discuss the benefits to be realized from your project in human terms
  • Relate project to what the funding agency needs to fulfill its mission
  • Give funding agency a reason to select your project over another one
more on problem statement
More on problem statement
  • Make sure it is reasonable in dimension
  • Don’t make unsupported assumptions
  • Support it with research (give sources)
  • Describe a national need then make it local – or vice versa
  • Needs should relate to goals of your organization
sample of why you need to verify what your problem really is
Sample of why you need to verify what your problem really is

Sometimes the surface problem is only a symptom of a more fundamental problem

difference between project goals and objectives
Difference between project goals and objectives

Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed

Example: To increase the college-going rate of adults in Stark County

Objective: Something that one’s actions are intended to attain or accomplish

Example: To increase the retention of minority students by 10%/year over three years as a result of the Minority Action Project

project objectives should be
Project objectives should be . . .
  • Specific – concrete and discrete activities or actions
  • Measurable – something you can quantify
  • Agreed upon by your project team and organization
  • Realistic – something your organization could actually accomplish
  • Timebound – something that can be done in a specified time period, usually within a year
  • “Evaluable” – a word made up meaning something capable of being evaluated
process objective vs measurable objective
Process objective vs measurable objective

An objective is a statement of the desired outcome.

  • Example of process objective: To buy a mobile x-ray unit.
  • Example of measurable objective: To decrease by 20% the incidence of respiratory disease within Stark County by the end of 2011.
other examples of measurable objectives
Other examples of measurable objectives:
  • By offering peer tutoring, increase by at least 25% the number of underprepared freshmen who receive a passing grade for the first semester, as compared to the number of underprepared freshmen who received a passing grade for the first semester of the previous year.
  • By the end of each year of the grant period, to decrease by 20%, from previous years’ levels, the attrition of freshmen students, as a result of poor academic performance.
project methodology
Project methodology
  • Describe in detail how the project will be conducted -- who, what, when, where and why
  • Include how participants will be selected and qualifications sought
  • Format in step-by-step time line
more on methodology
More on methodology
  • Demonstrate that you know what others in your field are doing, what methods work and which ones don’t work.
  • Many believe this is the most important section of proposal; it can separate the “men from the boys” (the amateurs from the professionals).
mapping out a solution
Mapping out a solution
  • It allows you and a team of others to highlight the logic behind your ideas
  • Use it as a method to construct the steps in a plan
  • Place your most promising solution in the center of a piece of paper, circle it, then write the 2-5 major steps needed to make this solution a reality, circle them and connect them to the solution, keep going outward as ideas flow
  • When begin identifying steps you won’t want to mention in the proposal, is time to stop
key personnel
Key personnel
  • Select the right person to coordinate project
  • Hire consultants when necessary
  • Include resumes
  • Include position descriptions if don’t have key personnel identified
  • Determines whether or not project’s objectives have been met and to what degree
  • Includes baseline data used as indicators of progress or success
  • Two major types: summative, formative
  • Can be done internally or externally
summative evaluation
Summative evaluation
  • Most common
  • Directed toward those interested in results
  • Conducted at conclusion of project
  • Measures outcomes of project
  • Tells funding source whether or not project has been successful
formative evaluation
Formative evaluation
  • Not directed simply toward measuring results
  • Is an information instrument used to indicate necessity for adjustments in project as it progresses
  • Particularly helpful to project staff
  • Be realistic
  • Be as detailed as possible
  • Make sure budget reflects narrative
  • Justify higher costs
  • Give sufficient information so reader knows costs are necessary and reasonable
  • Check and double-check your figures!
future of project
Future of Project
  • Start thinking about it in proposal planning stage
  • Ties in with budget and institutional (organizational) commitment
  • Assure funding agency that project won’t disintegrate as soon as grant ends and that you won’t be needing their support again when funding ends.
  • May need to include background on your organization
  • Set the stage for remainder of proposal
  • Put yourself in outsider’s shoes
remaining elements of proposal
Remaining elements of proposal
  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Appendix
  • Cover Letter
title page
Title page
  • May be provided by funding agency
  • If not, create cover providing essential information
  • Makes first impression on reader
  • Catch the reader’s interest
  • Summarize the project in a way that hasn’t been done within proposal
  • Be succinct, but complete
  • Check with funding source to confirm if Appendix is allowed
  • Include only essential information not able to fit in proposal
  • Include Appendix items very sparingly
cover letter
Cover letter
  • Not always necessary or advisable
  • If included, talk about project in a way not done anywhere else in proposal
  • Have signed by CEO of organization
different types of sponsors
Different types of sponsors
  • Government
  • Independent Foundations
  • Operating Foundations
  • Community Foundations
  • Corporate Foundations
  • Corporations
  • Civic Organizations
grant writing tips
Grant writing tips




design your proposal
Design your proposal
  • Break up copy with graphics
    • type face changes
    • charts, tables
    • graphs
    • illustrations
    • bullets
    • color
more tips
More tips

Demonstrate organizational commitment to project even if not requested

  • cash
  • personnel time
  • services
  • equipment
  • facilities
  • overhead
still more tips
Still more tips
  • Write to your audience (no jargon)
  • Write clearly
  • No errors in English usage!
  • Define acronyms, use as few as possible
  • Avoid redundancy and irrelevant material
  • Appearance and readability important
one more tip
One more tip
  • Write to grant readers’ evaluation forms as well as to guidelines
  • Obtain copy of evaluation forms, if available
  • Develop proposal to guidelines; review it to evaluation forms
key criteria to be used in determining grant recipients
Key criteria to be used in determining grant recipients
  • Qualifications of organization and key staff
  • Compatibility of project with funding source’s goals
  • Quality of project itself
  • Budget
afterwards if it s a yes
Afterwards: If it’s a “yes”
  • Celebrate!!!!
  • Send a thank-you letter
  • Notify everyone who participated in proposal development
  • Promote project internally/externally
  • Keep funder updated on project developments
afterwards if it s a no
Afterwards: If it’s a “no”
  • Notify everyone who participated in proposal development - thank them again for their assistance
  • Request readers’ comments or verbal feedback from funding agency personnel
  • Don’t give up! Re-work proposal and submit again
what to do when funded
What to do when funded
  • Spend money only after have received agency’s approval in writing
  • Know when program and financial reports are due
  • Clarify procedures for making programmatic and budget changes with funding agency personnel
ten most common reasons grants are declined per ohio grants guide
Ten most common reasonsgrants are declined(per Ohio Grants Guide)
  • “The organization does not meet our priorities” (research before applying)
  • “The organization is not located in our geographic area of funding.” (get guidelines before applying)
  • “The proposal does not follow our prescribed format.” (follow the guide-lines exactly)
more common reasons
More common reasons
  • “The proposal is poorly written and difficult to understand.” (have friends and experienced people critique the grant)
  • “The proposed budget and grant request is not within our funding range.” (research the average size of grants of the funder.)
more reasons
More reasons
  • “We don’t know these people – are they credible? (set up an interview before submitting the proposal to let them get to know you)
  • “The proposal doesn’t seem urgent – and I’m not sure it will have an impact.” (study their priorities; have a skilled writer do this section to make it “grab” the funder)
more common reasons1
More common reasons
  • “The objectives and plan of action greatly exceed the budget and timelines.” (only promise what you can realistically deliver for the amount requested)
  • “We’ve allocated all the money for this grant cycle.” (don’t take personally; this is a fact of life…try again)
and last but not least
And last but not least…
  • “There is insufficient evidence that the program will become self-sufficient and sustain itself after the grant is completed.” (make sure you address this issue whether the guidelines request it or not)