How to Write a Grant in Seven Steps - Part 2 of 3

Who doesn’t want to become a grant writing unicorn?  People think grant writers have mystical super powers. Let’s add the skillset to your quiver! In this series of three we distill the grant writing process into seven easy to follow steps. 

In case you missed the first post, you can access that here. 

Step 3. Host an Outstanding Kick-Off Meeting. A kick-off meeting is where we gather everyone involved in the project to plan for the grant preparation process. The amount of help you get is directly correlated to the success of your kick-off meeting. 

I will often bring cookies or provide lunch to express my gratitude to the group for giving their time to help me prepare an application. If people feel appreciated and inspired by you, they will make your requests a priority. 

Prepare an agenda beforehand and email it at least one day in advance. Pictured here is an example of a meeting agenda. 

Sample Meeting Agenda

Date: Monday, December 3, 2022 Time: 9:30 – 10:15 AM

Host: Your Name Goes Here

Attendees: Guest Names Here

RE: Kick Off Meeting for <Grant Name> Application

Topic

Introductions: Brief intros for everyone in attendance.

Objective: To agree on how to best share responsibilities of the <grant name here> application.

Project Overview: 

  • Confirm agreement on project scope being pursued for funding.

Questions:

  • Add your specific questions here that you gathered while preparing the grant narrative skeleton.
  • What is a grant narrative skeleton? Learn how to create one here.

Narrative/Attachment Requirements (EXAMPLE):

  • Narrative – Lisa lead, Meredith support
  • SF-424 Form – Lisa
  • HUD-2880 – Lisa
  • HUD-4125 Implementation Schedule – Meredith
  • HUD -4123 Cost Summary – Meredith
  • Citizen Participation Resolution – Lisa Prepares. Andrea Gets Passed.

Review Narrative Skeleton:

Provide a copy of your grant narrative skeleton and review it quickly with the team. Identify who will contribute what information. For example, when you get to the project team section of the narrative, you may identify that everyone on the team needs to provide their resumes.

Reviewing the narrative skeleton together is helpful in that other team members will suggest including information that you may not be aware of.

Schedule: See below.

Wrap Up: Agree on next meeting date and time.   

 

SAMPLE SCHEDULE

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Fri

3

Kickoff meeting

 

4

Receive info requested

5

Draft resolution to submit grant

6

Request letters of support

7

Draft #1 budget form

10

Draft #1 narrative due

11

Team meeting

12

 

13

Pass resolution

14

17

Draft #2 narrative due

18

Team meeting

19

Letters of support due

20

Finalize budget form

21

Draft #3 narrative due

24

25

Team edits to narrative due

26

Draft #4 narrative due

27

Assemble attachments

28

Finalize application for review

31

Independent review

1

Finalize. Submit grant!

2

Grant due date

3

 

 

4

 

 My agenda template includes names of attendees, date, time and subject. I’ll start off with introductions if needed. I’ll then provide a copy of the narrative skeleton. I run through it quickly asking where I can get information that I need to prepare the application. By providing a copy of the narrative skeleton to your team, they often come up with ideas for additional information or resources you could reference. 

I close out the meeting by discussing the grant development schedule. It’s best to learn now if someone will be unavailable because of vacation or other work obligations. Even if you carry 99% of the responsibility for completing the grant application, it is still important to establish a schedule with deadlines for your own accountability. 

Following the meeting, send out an email summarizing action items and a calendar invite for the next progress meeting. I try to schedule progress meetings to last no longer than 30 minutes so you don’t burn out attendees. 

Step 4. Finalize the Grant Budget.  I am assuming you have at least a rough cost estimate for your project. In a perfect world, project budgets would be nearly complete before starting an application, but it never seems to work out that way. 

However, finalizing your budget is now your top priority! The project budget impacts other parts of your application and your progress is impeded if it is not finalized. 

Let’s say a grant requires a 50% match. (Match, also known as cost-share, is a percentage of the project cost that needs to be funded by the applicant.) If you don’t know your total project cost, you can’t calculate match. 

Most applications require a resolution by your board of directors or government council to authorize submitting a grant. It is a time consuming and formal process to get a resolution passed. The resolution usually includes how much match to which the organization will commit to if the grant is awarded. You cannot specify the organization’s cost-share, if you don’t know the total project cost. 

Project cost also affects what you write about in your narrative. Are you impacting the lives of 20 homeless Veterans or 200? Will you renovate four low-income housing units or 14? The impact of your project and how you talk about it in the narrative tie back to what you can accomplish with your project budget. 

I’m guessing the last few paragraphs were pretty overwhelming! Before you give up, know that none of that will be an issue for you, if you have a finalized project budget. As such, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finishing your budget as soon as possible. 

If you want free access to our budget spreadsheet, you can get it by purchasing our book on How to Write a Grant, or by taking our online project planning and grant writing courses. 

To read part three of this series, check it out here! 


If you don't already, be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates on blog posts, upcoming workshops, and success stories from other grant writers. 

Be sure to check out our FREE Mini Course with Tips and Tricks for Narrative Writing here

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