Do a search on Amazon for "grants"...I dare you. In between the books about Ulysses S. Grant, Cary Grant, any author with the last name of "Grant", and a random medical reference guide, you'll see at least 20 books that will claim to teach you how to write a grant.
You're in a hurry and you don't want to waste money. How can you tell which book will help you understand grants? Where can you find the information you need to find, plan, and prepare a (hopefully successful) grant?
Can you find the needle in the haystack? Yes! And I will help. Over the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing various books and resources that are available to help you with grants. I've invested my time and money into evaluating these books so you don't have to. I've read each one in detail, highlighter and sticky notes in hand. I definitely have my favorites! Today, we'll look at federal grants.
Writing to Win Federal Grants, by Cheryl L. Kester and Karen L. Cassidy, does a great job of explaining the complex process of applying for a federal grant. Starting with a description of how federal grants work, and moving on to cover preparing for federal grants, building your dream team, and finding the best match, the book sets you up for success. Then it breaks down each section of the grant application, from planning your project with a logic model to writing the budget, goals and objectives. The book even offers tips for how to manage the grant after the award. I highly recommend this resource if you have a federal grant in your future.
A peek inside
Here is a sample of what you’ll find in Writing to Win Federal Grants.
Chapter 5: Grants are not “free money”.
The book gives three important tips about federal grants.
It is possible that your grant will cost you money. Covering all the related but indirect expenses like bookkeeping, HR costs, and facility use for the program can add up, and they may not be covered by the grant.
Federal grant money cannot replace your existing operating budget. You must do something new or expanded with your grant. You’ve most likely heard the term “supplement, not supplant.” That means the federal funds can be used to begin a new program or expand a program, but they can’t be used to simply carry on current operations.
Applying for federal grants is a competitive, time-consuming process with no guarantees. Evaluate your organization’s available staff and time to determine if the payoff is worth the risk. Use your resources wisely.
Chapter 6: Logic models
The description of how to develop an effective logic model is worth the price of the book by itself. A logic model is a way to visualize your program, including inputs, outputs, and resources. This book gives you everything you need to build a powerful logic model. And I can tell you from reviewing CSP grants, the people who review federal grants are looking for good logic models. If your logic model is confusing or doesn’t include the expected elements, you may lose significant points from reviewers.
Chapter 9: Need
The book helps you develop a strong need statement, managing complex data and helping you tell your story. With samples of effective statements and a breakdown of what is needed for each section, the book will save you hours in planning and writing your need statement.
Why you need this book
This book is written by experienced federal grant writers. They speak with the authority of people who have written hundreds of grants. The book does not directly address charter school grants or the CSP program, but it doesn't need to. The information will be applicable to nearly any federal grant.
Even if you won’t be directly writing the grant because you’ll be working with an experienced grant writer, I’d still recommend investing your time and effort into understanding the process. It will help you know what your grant writer needs and to be proactive with your staff to develop a program that is a worthy endeavor.
A workbook is also available to go with this book. If you have a grant coming up, I’d suggest investing in both books because the workbook includes additional examples and templates that will save you time and effort.
I give this book 5 stars!
Available on Amazon
New Series by Peggy Downs
Book 1: Start-Up Guide for School Grants (Answers to the Questions You Should Be Asking)
Book 2: Charter School Grants (Save Time and Write a Better Grant)
Book 3: Grant Writing for Impact (Leverage Grants to Dramatically Increase Funding, Impact, and Credibility for Your School)
Each book in this series addresses a different level of grant writing skills. Just getting started and full of questions? Start with book 1. Ready to write your first grant? Choose book 2. Interested in learning how to develop a school grants program? Then book 3 is for you.
Each book offers links to free resources to help you be successful with school grants.
Order yours on Amazon today.
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Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at:
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