Grant Proposals that Win - Think Like a Funder - Project Planning Part 2

project planning Sep 13, 2019

Welcome back! This is part two of our blog series on how to develop your project so it is funding-ready. If you missed the first blog, you can access that here

Below are a series of questions to consider when understanding where a project sits in the planning process. Continue to answer the questions listed below in a word document or text editor of your choice. 

Technical Viability & Sustainability

  • How is the project technically viable? Has it ever been done before? What unknowns could impact the project being successful? If it’s a capital improvement project, are project designs developed? 
  • Where will your project or program be located? Does your organization own the property or the building? If so, be sure to save a copy of the lease, property deed or any other appropriate document in your project folder. If not, who owns it and what is your plan for using the site? 
  • How can you prove the project (and organization) will be sustainable? Funding agencies want to support projects that will continue to thrive after grant funding runs out. Show your project or program will be sustained through a business plan, feasibility study, or the like. Yes, these can be expensive and time consuming to develop, but they are essential to prove sustainability. 


  • Who is your main point of contact for communicating with the funding agency? 
  • Who is your project manager, responsible for day to day management of the project?
  • Who will take care of financial management of the grant? If you don’t have an in-house grants administration person, consider contracting with an accounting firm that has grant management experience to demonstrate a strong team. 
  • Who else is on your team and what role do they play? Build the best team you can. If you only list a 1-2 people, the project will be perceived as vulnerable if one of the key players leaves the organization. 
  • Do you need to hire any subcontractors or consultants for niche expertise? Don’t be bashful about hiring out to third parties to assemble an unbeatable team. 

Project Cost Information

  • Has a project budget been developed? If not, what is the plan for getting a general cost estimate? This is a topic unto itself, but at a minimum, you need a ballpark figure of what the project will cost to do funding research. There is a big difference between funding a $15,000 program and $1.5M program! 
  • If applicable, what are your annual operations and maintenance costs? This is typically for capital improvement projects, but for programs it is important as well. Think through what the cost of delivering your program is going to be after grant funds are exhausted.
  • Who prepared the cost estimate, and what are their qualifications for doing so? Ideally you can involve someone with perceived professional service experience. If not, consider finding someone with knowledge around project costs and have them conduct a budget review. You can then still reference their strong qualifications as contributing to the project. 
  • What sources of funding have been secured or committed, if any? What are potential sources of match funding? Almost all grants require some form of cost-sharing. Think through potential resources for match now. Get ideas for creative sources of match here.

With that, you will have thought about the project from every angle that a typical funder will. The bottom line is that you know when a project is well planned or not. Funding agencies see a lot of projects requesting funding. You can do your best to disguise a project’s lack of development but most funders are astute enough to see through it. Instead of wasting time on a grant pursuit before you are really ready to apply, plow that time into project planning and get your project to a true state of readiness. 

The one exception we make is this: if you have a project description, know the problem you want to solve, and a rough cost estimate - that is sufficient detail for researching grant funding availability.

Sometimes, it's helpful to research if grants exist for the project or program you want to get funded before spending too much time planning it. We talk about the funding research process in detail in our online Grant Writing Program, but for now it will suffice to say that this approach can be helpful because then you can tailor development of your project to fit perfectly with the grant program. 

Want to really dive into this? Consider taking our online class on Grant Writing Project Planning.  This course is a prerequisite to our Grant Writing Program. Use discount code BLOG to get 25% off for reading this post! 

What is the online course like? The course provides a Project Planning Toolkit (a PDF you can fill in) and a community platform for collaborating with other aspiring grant writers. Students share their project planning toolkits, give feedback to one another, and help accelerate each other’s learning. Instructors weigh in on questions you have and help you keep your project moving forward to a funding-ready state. The course can be completed in a few hours! 

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. 

Not sure you're ready for the course? We still want to help! Be sure to check out our FREE Mini Course with Tips and Tricks for Narrative Writing here

Photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash

Stay connected with our Weekly Tips and Tricks!

Join our mailing list to receive a weekly email on project planning, funding research, and grant writing. We hate junk mail as much as you do. Our content always has immediately actionable tips that you can use today to become a better grant writer. 

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter

50% Complete