Applying for grant funding, whether federal, state, or local, can be intimidating and overwhelming. However, we can follow the guidance of peers who have successfully received funding in the past and learn lessons from mistakes they have made throughout the process.

In a recent grant writing webinar hosted by Cordata, a panelist of experts shared insights on how to successfully write proposals for deflection programs. The panelists spent some time focusing on the current Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program’s (COSSAP) opportunity, however the advice shared can be used on most federal grant opportunities.

Here are ten tips for planning, writing, and submitting a successful grant proposal:

  1. Begin with a vision that can help guide the process. What is it exactly that you are trying to solve?
  2. Projects are most successful when different perspectives have a seat at the table. Once a clear vision has been articulated, identify the various collaborators that will be involved in the project and create a clear, tangible plan that explains how you will get from Point A to Point B, with roles for each collaborator clearly defined.
  3. It is easy to get lost in the grand idea, but don’t forget to ensure that there is a reasonable way to reach your goals in the amount of time and funding provided.
  4. When you have the collaboration and coalitions established, and the need for funding in place, the actual work of grant writing is simply to pull together what you have been discussing for some time. Communicate to the funder that you are doing something that they should invest in rather than requesting funding for future ideas.
  5. One tricky aspect of grant writing is ensuring that you hit every single point that the RFP asks for. Take time to go through the RFP and pull out every single point that you must hit and use that to align what you are talking about with what they are asking for.
  6. When writing a grant proposal with a team, find out what each contributor’s skill is and allow them to work in their area of strength. Create a shared document that all contributors have access to and assign a delegated authority with strong writing skills to put the proposal together with a consistent, common voice.
  7. If your organization has submitted a proposal in the past, use those as examples to help you with the current proposal. If your organization has never written a grant proposal, take advantage of other assets available to you, such as press releases that talk about who you are and what you do.
  8. The funding source is always aware of the issue presented, so instead of taking time to define the problem, use that space to share how your unique solution will make a difference.
  9. When applying for another grant on the heels of a successful program, build upon the original vision with a next iteration that shows added value to the project.
  10. Finally, submit your proposal with ample time for unforeseen circumstances. Do not wait until the last minute, because there is always a chance that something will go wrong during the submission, and you want to have the time to fix any issues.

We hope these tips and tricks help in your next grant proposal. For more, watch the full recording of the grant writing webinar.