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Methodologies in Grant Writing

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In this blog post, I’d like to talk about the ways that the grant writing industry defines "methodology." Who's included in this industry? Full-time grant writers as well as agency or organizational staff that wear myriad other hats that include searching for grant funding opportunities and writing grant requests.

First, let's turn to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary to define methodology:

  1. A body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline: a particular procedure or set of procedures
  2. The analysis of the principles or procedures of inquiry in a particular field

Grant Seeking Methodology

Remember the old adage that if you do something every day for 30 days in a row, it will become a habit? Well if you aggressively set up grant funding opportunity alerts directed to your email inbox and diligently open and read the alerts, looking for funding will become a habit and strengthen your organization’s grant seeking methodology. I read my alerts seven days a week without exception. Missing, even by one or two days, the opportunity to get started on the planning, researching, and writing process for any highly competitive grant program can cripple your efforts and slow down the work plan momentum.

Grant Planning Methodology

Well, here’s the best adage for the grant planning process: The best laid plans of mice and men (and women too!) oft go awry. When it comes to grant planning, we tend to want a 15-minute huddle with a group of unwary (and often unwilling) already-overworked colleagues. In fact, the methodology of grant planning requires the following tasks:

  • Reviewing the Notification of Funding Availability (NOFA) to determine your organization’s grant applicant eligibility; the due date; any required technical assistance webinars; mandatory submission of a letter of intent requirement; state agency single point of review mandates; and the submission process. 
  • Mandatory submission of a letter of intent requirement; state agency single point of review mandates; and the submission process.
  • Marking up the grant application’s guidelines for keywords, technical specifications, formatting requirements (font, size, type, and page limitations per section and for the entire narrative), mandatory attachments and the formatting of the attachments.
  • Determining the types of partner organizations needed (local, countywide, state-level or national) and the required industry segments for partners (faith-based, units of government, business and industry, trade organizations, associations, and others).
  • Deciding who will be on the planning team within your organization and from the partner groups. Setting an initial grant project introductory meeting and scheduling follow-up working committee-level meetings to gather all of the critically needed information for the narrative and attachments.
  • Knowing well in advance if your organization will be required to hold a public meeting at least 30 days before the grant submission due date.
  • Notifying your governing body of the need for a public meeting, and, possibly, the need for a resolution to submit the application (especially if the funding agency is requiring a matching funds commitment).

Grant Writing Methodology

The only adage that I have for the grant writing methodology is about procrastination: “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” – Olin Miller. As you can tell, I am not a fan of procrastination. As soon as you complete the planning process, it’s time to determine who will write the grant application. Will it be one department head or several? Are you going to have a grant writing committee? If so, that means you’ll need a grant writer that is not only willing to take on the smoothing of multiple styles of writing but one that can only make the voice and tone of the writing look continuous like only one writer did all of the narrative writing. In short, you need someone who can pull it all together.

Points to remember:

  • Write in the order of the grant application’s narrative guideline’s outline.
  • Don’t start off by writing the abstract or summary! That’s a quick copy/paste when you finished 100%
  • Don’t start the writing process by creating the budget. Why? The narrative content (program design methodology) drives the expenses that you will plot into the budget section of your application.

Grant procedures for effective grants management