Use Four Simple Strategies to Improve your Grant Proposals

 Developing grant proposals can be complicated, messy, and full of anguish.  There are four simple strategies that will help you meet the predictable problems and crises that seemingly beset every proposal effort.

Organize and Orient at the Beginning

To get the proposal effort off to a good start, Proposal Managers should do this first:

  • Establish a schedule.
  • Develop an official template.
  • Develop a compliance matrix.
  • Develop a detailed outline or storyboard for your grant proposal.
  • Distribute a writing and collaboration guide that sets standards and ground rules.
  • Orient team members to these documents.

Providing a solid framework for team members will promote trust and a common understanding while it builds the cohesiveness of the team.

Use Clear Communication

Practicing effective communication is very important, especially because many grant proposals are virtual efforts with team members scattered across the country.  To foster good communication, the Proposal Manager should:

  • Hold frequent meetings, by phone or face-to-face, to review proposal progress.
  • Update the calendar.
  • Use frequent e-mails and telephone calls with team members.
  • Hold one-on-one sessions to address and resolve problems.
  • Provide an updated contact list so everyone can communicate efficiently with each other.

Build a Team

Everyone on the grant proposal, no matter what their responsibilities, is part of the team.  Involve everyone in discussions and make your expectations clear.  There always will be a few reluctant members of any team.  Find ways to use their time efficiently and get the most out of them.

Respect and Trust your Team

As the Proposal Manager, act respectfully toward your team and treat them like adults and professionals.  If some underperform, help them complete their tasks well.  Pick someone on the team to be your personal sounding board so that you can double-check your decisions.  Creating a comfortable and supportive proposal environment may be one of the Proposal Manager’s most important and underrated tasks.

A Proposal Manager has many responsibilities.  However, if you can do these four things well, your grant proposal effort is likely to be successful.


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