Now that you have identified a grant program and plan to submit an application, here are five things to keep in mind to maximize your chances of securing funding.
Securing grant funding can be a daunting and competitive process. But with the right approach and preparation, you can increase your chances of success. Here are five tips to help you secure funding.
Tip 1: Prepare Early
Preparing early for a grant application is essential for ensuring the quality of your proposal, reducing stress, and maximizing your chances of securing an award.
Application requirements vary significantly across the various federal and state agricultural grant programs. We recommend reviewing the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) or Request for Applications (RFA) in detail. This will help you understand whether your organization is an eligible applicant. In addition, reviewing this information will allow you to have a thorough understanding of the requirements before you begin writing. Many grant programs also have detailed instructions on how to draft an application, examples of previous grant applications, and a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website. Some may even host educational webinars near the deadline to assist with drafting. If it is your first time submitting a grant application, you may also be required to register your organization at SAM.gov and secure a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number before submission. It can often take a few weeks to complete these processes—tackling it early is key!
In some cases, the online applications where grant programs are submitted tend to run slowly or have technical issues closer to submission time, due to the higher traffic on the websites. Uploading your application early can help ensure that the submission process goes smoothly, leaving time for unanticipated technical issues.
Tip 2: Develop a Strong Proposal
Federal grant programs are often highly competitive. Agencies receive numerous applications that are reviewed for completeness and appropriateness for the funding pool. A strong proposal is essential to stand out amongst the crowd.
When drafting your application, we recommend considering and answering the following questions:
- What is the problem or need that my project addresses?
- Is the project relevant to the objectives of that grant program?
- What are my project’s goals and objectives?
- How will I measure and evaluate my project’s success?
- What activities will be conducted and what is the timeline for implementation?
- What is a realistic budget that accounts for all project expenses? What specifically are grant funds being requested for, and are they allowable costs?
It is important when considering these questions to review the NOFO or RFA to ensure that your organization, proposed project, and expected costs are eligible and appropriate for the grant. If these elements align, you are ready to start writing!
Tip 3: Demonstrate Need and Impact
Grantors want to allocate their limited resources to projects that address genuine and timely needs. As such, it is critical to highlight why your proposal is important and needed now, to stand out amongst applications.
Industry support always improves a grant application. When possible, collaborate with other organizations on your application and include their commitment to your project in the proposal.
For the majority of grant programs, reviewers are looking to see why your proposed project will benefit the wider industry or community – not just one company or organization, so it is important to describe the larger impact of your project in your proposal.
Tip 4: Keep the Audience in Mind
Though the reviewers of your grant application probably have some agricultural knowledge, they most likely will not be an expert in your product or field of your proposed project. Therefore, it may be helpful to add context to your proposal about your organization, the seasonality and production of your product, as well as previous projects conducted and their results. We also recommend against using industry jargon or acronyms that may be unfamiliar to the application reviewers. It may be helpful to have someone who is unfamiliar with your industry and project read through your application, to ensure that it is clear to the average reviewer.
Tip 5: Focus on the Details
Grant applications are often large and complex. When writing your proposal, it helps to refer back to the NOFO or RFA, to confirm that you are fulfilling all of the requirements, including all forms, letters of support, performance measures, and more. We recommend dividing drafting and reviewing your application across several days, to help ensure that all requirements are met and help catch any mistakes.
When drafting grant applications, a particular point of focus should be on the quality and accuracy of data. Grant reviewers take a critical eye to any data that is included, so it is important to add sources, timeframes, and reference periods.
Overall, the strongest proposals are clear, concise, and compelling.
If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of drafting a grant application, we can help. BCI works with food, beverage, and agribusiness clients to develop and submit strong grant applications. On an annual basis, BCI secures more than $20 million in federal and state grant funding for our clients. Let us handle the application writing and submission for you!
BCI works with food, beverage, and agribusiness clients to create strong applications, which were granted more than $20 million for our clients in 2023 alone. Let us handle the application writing and submission for you!