Creating a concept
Now it’s time to pull it together creating a concept which aligns all of the following points:
- Your funding needs.
- The needs of the funding body.
- The needs of the funding beneficiary (N.B. the beneficiary is the end user – this may be your business, or it could be a target group that your business will serve if the grant is successful).
Why is this important?
Grants can take a lot of time to write, deliver and administer. While you will find a lot of funding that you could apply for, it doesn’t mean that you should apply for it. Look for grants that are a good fit for your organisational direction, objectives and the needs of your target beneficiary.
Failure to do this will result in organisational mission drift taking you to far off places that contribute very little to your initial purpose (i.e. more work).
Working as a team
The concept is the right time to bring in your team and key project partners. Gather everyone in a brainstorming meeting, create a shared Google Doc or keep everyone in the loop giving each stakeholder time to consider and contribute to the concept.
The concept is where the buy-in begins, and you want your key stakeholders involved from day one.
Creating a concept statement
So you know what you are going to do with the funding, now it’s time to put together 2-3 paragraphs that succinctly describe this.
A rough template follows:
(Your organisation’s name) will deliver (project name) in partnership with (funding body) under the(grant name).
The project will (what will you deliver/do?)
This will enable (what are your expected outputs, e.g. 5% increase in turnover, 35 new business partners, trading in 3 new countries, 600 visits to local allied health services) resulting in (what is your expected impact as related to the goals of the grant?)
Your concept statement will come in handy for articulating your project to your team, partners and other supporters. Consider memorising this statement and using it as an elevator pitch for the project.
Creating a concept paper
Now it’s time to pull together a concept paper to guide your application.
A simple format to construct your concept paper is:
1. Title of the project.
2. Title of the grant/funding.
3. A very short and impactful sentence about the issue your grant will solve (e.g. “25% of young people are unemployed in xyz region”, “productivity can be increased by 25% when …”, “Minister x says y happens when z is in place”).
4. Your concept statement (see above).
5. A paragraph about why this application is value for money and why it is appropriate for this funding.
6. The ask (e.g. Can you please provide a letter of support, would you like to partner?)
7. Your contact details and timeframe.
The concept paper serves two purposes:
- A short (N.B. short means 1-2 pages as a maximum) document that you can send to potential partners and supporters to enable them to understand what you intend to do.
- A summary of your initial intention, assisting you to avoid ‘mission drift’ as your application forms (see part seven of the series, avoiding funding pitfalls)
Keep in mind that turnaround times for grants are usually short. Ideally, you would form your concept when the funding need is identified by your organisation (as opposed to the grant being identified and then retrofitted to the need).
Yes, you may need to do a little tweaking however at the very least you’ll have your stakeholders engaged and ready to launch.
Remember this – clarity is essential in the grant writing realm. Waffle and you’re out.
Kerry Grace – Evolve Network Founder and CEO