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Full text of "How to Write a Competitive Grant Proposal"

HOW TO 

WRITE 

A COMPETITIVE 

GRANT PROPOSAL 



U.S. mmnm of health and human services 

Public Health Service 
Oice of Minority Health 




I 
I 

E 
I 
I 



4 



HOW TO 

WRITE 

A COMPETITIVE 

GRANT PROPOSAL 



The material contained herein is provided as instructional 
material only, and no guarantee of grant award should be 
assumed. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors, 
and are not endorsed, nor do they reflect those of the Office 
of Minority Health or the Department of Health and Human 
Services. 



CONTENTS 



Foreword iii 

Preface v 



■ Introduction 1 

■What Funders Want 3 

■ Review Criteria 6 

■ Needs Assessment 7 

■ Goals and Objectives 10 

■Workplan 15 

Sample Workplan for a Coalition Development Project 18 

Sample Workplan by Individual Objectives 19 

■Evaluation 21 

Sample of an Evaluation Worksheet for an Output Objective 23 

Sample of an Evaluation Worksheet for a Process Objective 24 

■Budget 26 

■What if ? 28 

■ Monitoring 29 

Example Quarterly Report 30 

■ Appendix 31 

■ References 34 



FOREWORD 



In keeping with the Office of Minority Heahh's mission to improve the heahh of racial and 
ethnic populations through the development of health policies and programs, it is my 
pleasure to offer to the community this programming guide. The guide's purpose is to 
assist you in preparing competitive project proposals. It is my deepest conviction that 
without the necessary support and. tools, like programming guidance, minority communities 
will not be able to participate in improving their health status which is crucial for an 
enhanced quality of life. 

The Federal funds allocated for community health projects are shrinking daily. In order for 
minority communities to compete, they have to be able to write competitive grant proposals 
and implement projects effectively. The participation of community-based organizations 
has to be expanded rather than diminished to meet the public health challenges of today: 
violence, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, infant mortality, cardiovascular disease and stroke, 
cancer, and diabetes. These problems will only be resolved by cooperation, creative 
solutions, and hard work. We look forward to working with you. 

The Office of Minority Health appreciates the work of Jaime Henriquez in the preparation 
of this guide. 

£la^ Simps^, Jr.,^.D. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health 

Public Health Service 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 




PREFACE 



The following document is a compilation of ideas and text selected from the publications 
listed on the last page and reprinted with permission. We would like to thank the following 
for allowing us to incorporate some of their ideas in this text: Dr. Mary Hall, Getting 
Funded: Roy Meador, Guidelines for Preparing Proposals, and the United States 
Conference of Mayors, Proposal Writing for HIV/AIDS Prevention Grants. The Office of 
Minority Health (OMH) hopes you will find the ideas presented here useful and interesting 
enough to read the original works, which provide more information. In addition, you may 
call the OMH Resource Center (1-800-444-6472) to obtain a listing of other useful 
publications. 



INTRODUCTION 



The purpose of this publication is to assist you in preparing a competitive project proposal 
for OMH and provide you with general guidelines regarding proposal writing. 

There are numerous public health problems that community-based organizations (CBOs) 
can solve within their own individual communities. OMH wants to work with you to 
improve your community's health. Federal, state, and private funds and technical assistance 
are available to support projects. However, we all know that problems are not solved by 
good intentions and/or money alone. Problems are solved with knowledge, planning, time, 
resources, and the will to see the project through to completion. We know that a poorly 
planned project leads to failure because the project staff do not know where they are going 
or/and how they will get there. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Government and foundation grant reviewers find that at least half of the proposals they 
receive are not funded because they are poorly organized or non-conforming (i.e., did not 
follow the Request for Application's (RFA's) guidelines). An analysis of more than 700 
proposals rejected by the U.S. Public Health Service showed the following reasons for not 
being recommended for funding' : 



Reasons for not receiving a grant % of Total 



Inadequate planning and carelessly prepared applications 39% 

Competency of applicant not shown 38% 

Nature of the project 18% 

Miscellaneous 5% 



Thirty nine percent of the proposals were not recommended for funding because they 
lacked planning and were poorly organized. In addition, 38 percent failed because 
organizations did not demonstrate the necessary experience to implement the project. Most 
of the applicants were essentially qualified for the projects they proposed according to the 
findings, but their proposals simply did not make those qualifications clear. Keep in mind, 
the reviewers do not know how good your organization is or your intentions; they can only 
base their opinion on what you present in the project proposal. 



Meador. Roy Guidelines for Preparing Proposals, p. 96. 2nd ed. Chelsea: Lewis Publishers, Inc , 1991. 



Do not wait for a RFA announcement to begin working on your project proposal. Most 
RFAs allow you generally 30 to 60 days from announcement to submission date. Be 
prepared. Plan to get a head start. There are activities you can work on before the RFA is 
ever published in the "Federal Register." You can gather statistics and data, start working 
on the problem statement, preparing the community, making contacts with other agencies 
for future letters of support. There are many activities that can be started before the 
announcement. Your advance work will give you more time to devote to writing the 
proposal. 

A successful project proposal is the result of hard work. Devote adequate time to insuring 
that the community is involved and committed, and to writing the proposal. If you do not 
have the required time, hire a technical writer to assist you. Write and rewrite the proposal 
until you and your reviewers are satisfied. Revisions are essential and cannot be stressed 
enough. Have project staff and community people review the proposal critically: Is the 
writing clear and concise? Is the problem focused and a demonstrated community priority? 
Will the resolution of the problem improve the community's quality of life? Does an 
objective describe only one activity? Do the objectives make sense? Are you following the 
RFA instructions and page requirements? Are you answering the reviewer's potential 
questions? OR Are you creating new questions? Are you turning the reviewer against 
your proposal by not following instructions? Win the reviewer over by planning, answering 
questions, following instructions, and revising and polishing. A well thought out, clear, and 
logical proposal will pave the way for a successful project, not only at the funding period, 
but more importantly during the implementation and evaluation phases. We want you to 
succeed. 



WHAT FUNDERS WANT 



To write a successful competitive proposal, it is important to know what a funder is looking 
for and that the announcement matches your organization's mission. If the purpose of the 
RFA does not match your organization's mission, stop and reconsider. You may be 
wasting your time because the proposal will be returned as non-conforming. Reviewers are 
trained to look for this inconsistency. 

A proposal submitted in response to a RFA has no place for "poetic license." An amazing 
number of those submitting proposals simply do not bother to read and follow instructions. 
If you do not follow the instructions, you run the risk of having your proposal returned to 
you as non-conforming. Incomplete applications are returned before the review process. 

Funders want to award grants to CBOs that will carry out effective projects. When writing 
a proposal, you must convey and document that the proposed project is needed and your 
organization has the experience and capability to implement the project successfully. A 
well written proposal for a weak or unnecessary project or a poorly written proposal for an 
innovative project idea will cause reviewers to question the capability of the applicant as 
well as the applicant's understanding of the problem. 

Frequently, project proposals fail to be explicit. They do not spell out precisely what 
methods will be used, what steps will be taken, and what schedule will be met in reaching 
objectives. The reasons for vagueness are understandable. The temptation is strong to 
avoid being tied down to specifics; but giving in to this temptation produces a proposal 
that is likely to strike reviewers as indefinite, speculative, wishy-washy, and incomplete. 
In the project proposal, establish that you have reached specific decisions, know what you 
are doing and planning to do upon funding. Above all, demonstrate your expertise. 

A well-written proposal is one that is clear, concise, readable, and does not have 
t>pographical or grammatical errors. Keep the language simple and to the point; and please 
avoid jargon. 

The proposal must demonstrate: 

• The community (target population) has been involved in the design of the project; 

• The project is conducted in the language and cultural context that is most 
appropriate for the individuals for whom the information and/or services are 
intended; 



The project's goal is important and will deal with a critical identified need that can 
be addressed and fulfilled, and the goal is related to the RFA and your 
organization's mission; 

• An effective, realistic, attainable, and feasible workplan/strategy has been 

selected; 

The project can be monitored and evaluated within specific time frames; 
A concrete product and/or outcome can be expected at the project's end; 

• The project staff and the organization have the capacity, credibility, capability, and 
experience needed to effectively implement the project; 

• The proposal has been discussed with others in the community and is not an 
unnecessary duplication; 

The budget is realistic; and 

• The project is relevant to the funding source. 

Your project proposal should convey a need and discuss how the project will address the 
need in a logical and organized manner. 

Do not be afraid to consult a specialist or the funding source for technical assistance. No 
one expects you to be an expert in all aspects of a project's development. Ask someone 
not involved with the project to critique what you have written and to see if the proposal 
makes sense and follows instructions. Is the project "doable?" A revised or modified 
proposal will only improve the likelihood of having the proposal approved and/or possibly 
funded. 



CULTURAL COMPETENCY 

It is our policy that all activities supported by OMH must be conducted in the language and 
cultural context that is most appropriate for the individuals for whom the information and/or 
services are intended. 

Cultural competency questions that should be addressed in the proposal include: 

• What language(s) is most understood or used by the community? 

• Will the proposed workplan be accepted by the community? 



Are the project materials and approaches relevant to the community? 

Does the proposed project staff resemble the community? 

Does the proposed project staff have the essential skills necessary to implement the 
project? 



REVIEW CRITERIA 



I 



The following is an example of the review criteria typically used by OMH proposal 
reviewers (see complete set of review criteria in the appendix) to rate the technical merit of 
proposals. These criteria specifically apply to coalition building projects. You should have 
a clear understanding of the meaning of the criteria established by the funders. If the 
review criteria have not been explained in the RFA, or you do not understand this section, 
you should call the funder directly for clarification. 

OMH applications are evaluated by Federal or non-Federal reviewers chosen for their 
expertise in minority health and experience with similar projects. 



Sample review criterion: 

REVIEW CRITERIA: Applications will be reviewed and evaluated for technical merit 
and consistency with the requirements of the announcement. The following criteria under 
the listed headings are of specific importance. (An indication of the quantitative weight 
appears in parentheses after each heading based on each proposal requirement): 



I. Needs Assessment [20%] 

The proposal should reflect the applicant's understanding of the problem and the 
organizational capacity and experience in providing services to the target population. 
Criteria include: 

• Clarity, specificity, depth, and coherence of the described health problem(s) and 

need(s) locally, regionally, or nationally of the target population; 

Clarity and consistency with the OMH mission and the purpose of this grant 
program; and 

Extent and outcomes of past efforts/activities. 



NEEDS ASSESSMENT 



If you are starting a new project or considering an extension of an ongoing project, you 
need information on the health status of your community, available services and/or gaps in 
services within your community for two important reasons. First, you need to know the 
current status, where you 're starting from, so you can write reasonable goals and 
objectives for the project. You need clear objectives to select the kinds of activities to 
provide. The second reason is for evaluation: to assess the impact your project is having 
on the community. You will not know if your project is having a positive or negative 
impact on your communit\' if you do not collect baseline information at the beginning and 
during the project's implementation. The potential for renewed funding is greatly increased 
if you can demonstrate a positive impact on your community at the project's end. 

A needs assessment is an organized, logical appraisal of the health status of your 
community, available services and/or gaps in services within your community. You will 
not be certain of what you need to focus on until the needs assessment is complete. 
Statistical data, especially when provided by local or state health departments, help to 
support the need for the project. When local data are unavailable, present the state and 
national data you do have and explain the reasons you believe conditions are as you portray 
them in your locality. 

Needs assessments can be broad (looking at all specific services for a community) or 
narrow in scope (looking at a specific target population and its health needs). However, 
you need to limit and defme the problem clearly and accurately. Demonstrate to the 
reviewers that you understand the need or gap in service. Do not assume the reviewer 
knows your community or your terminology - explain what you mean. 

Is the project proposal concerned with the needs of the community or your organization's 
needs? If the needs of the community have not been assessed, the reviewers will not be 
able to determine who benefits: the community or your organization. Furthermore, 
developing a project without utilizing a needs assessment is much like taking a long trip 
without knowing your destination. 

In this section of your proposal, you should identify the existing needs for health services 
for a specific group and support them with statistical data (e.g. teen pregnancy rates, 
alcohol/drug use rates). Always indicate the source of the statistical data you use. Based 
on the data, there are some basic questions that should be answered when describing these 
needs: 



Who are the individuals or groups (race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, 
age, etc.) you are targeting? 

WTio else is addressing these needs? Are the services accessible (location, language, 
cultural barriers, etc.)? What lessons have they learned that are applicable to the 
project? What factors indicate the need for more funds to address the need? If the 
project proposal is replicating a similar project, why are more funds required? 

What is the present status (level of service, language used, cultural context, number 
of people infected, etc.)? 

Are there specific gaps for health services and if there are gaps where do they exist 
(i.e., specific geographic areas/neighborhoods)? 

What are the underlying causes for the need? 

Why should these particular needs and this specific group receive attention at this 
time? Why did you pick this group? What is likely to happen if this project is not 
funded? 

Can the project realistically resolve the need? 

Is the need seen as important by other groups or organizations whose support and 
involvement might be critical to the success of the project? 

What obstacles or difficulties should be anticipated in implementing the project? 

The answers to the above questions should provide a detailed explanation of the problem. 

In defining the problem you need to demonstrate the following": 
The community's involvement in determining the need; 

• A complete understanding of the issues; 

• Why are the particular needs you have selected important to the beneficiaries; 

• Are there favorable conditions at this time for implementing the project; 



"Hall. Mar\ S Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writing . 3rd ed. (Portland: Continuing Education Publications, 
1988), p. 109 



The particular aspect of the need which your project will address and how the need 
or gap in service you have selected is manageable; 

• Your organization's present relationship with the target population (i.e., current 
services provided to the target population). Also discuss how funding will affect 
(enhance or expand) these services; 

• Your organization's ability to carry out this project and how the need is related to 
your organization's purpose; 

• The benefits your project expects to realize in terms of measurable improvements or 
products; and 

• How your proposal is related to the funder's mission. 

"The needs assessment must be sufficiently focused to assure the 
reviewers that your organization has the potential to solve the need or 
gap in service, given the time and resources requested in the proposal. A 
frequent mistake is to describe a massive and complex need but propose 
a project which addresses only a small part of the problem. Reducing 
the scope of the problem to a manageable level demonstrates knowledge 
and experience. Proposing too complex and expensive a project 
indicates inexperience or, at worst, someone that will promise anything 
in order to get funded."^ 

For any given need there may be a variety of approaches to both the solution and its 
implementation. Once a need has been clearly defined, the next step in refining the project 
idea is to consider as many alternative approaches for a solution as possible and to analyze 
the respective merits or disadvantages for both your organizations and the beneficiaries. 
Having made a choice on the particular approach to take, the applicant must also decide on 
the best method of implementation, e.g. should the training be conducted in a school or on 
the job? What is the anticipated cost-benefit for each method? What has been the 
experience of other organizations or individuals in launching similar projects? But most 
importantly, the project should be focused; the needs assessment should be manageable and 
solvable given the resources and the approaches selected. 



ibid., p 



GOALS AND OBJECTIVES 



"The goals and objective statements are frequently confused because they describe a desired 
condition or outcome. However, these two types of statements usually differ in dimensions 
of specificity, accountability and time."'* The goal is a broad, long-term statement of what 
your project intends to contribute or accomplish. On the other hand, an objective is a 
short-term accomplishment and needs to be specific and measurable. 

Goals provide the ultimate purpose of the project. An objective, on the other hand, should 
be specific and concrete, result-oriented, measurable, time-specific, and address short-term 
accomplishments that logically lead to achieving the goal. 



GOALS 

A goal is a general statement of what your project intends to accomplish or to 
contribute towards accomplishing as identified in the assessment of your 
community's needs. It is abstract in content and generally not measurable. Goals 
convey the overall intent or purpose of the entire program. They seldom have a 
deadline attached. 

The goal statement of the project should: 

Reflect the long-term desired impact of the project on individuals, the 
community as a whole, or other target groups; and 

• Reflect the program goals of the funder, as contained in the RFA. 



Here are some examples of a goal: 

Improve the health status of African American children under 6 years of age 
in the Chicago area. 

To assist the Vietnamese community in Albuquerque, New Mexico in accessing 
medical care. 



10 



OBJECTIVES 

If a needs assessment identifies your destination, then objectives are the route by which you 
arrive at your destination. On a journey, when the objective is Cincinnati by Tuesday, you 
immediately know the moment the journey is finished: you're in Cincinnati on Tuesday. 
Objectives should be concrete and attainable results that can be measured and readily 
identified when you reach them. Objectives should be precise. Writing time specific, 
result-oriented, and measurable objectives are crucial to addressing the problem you have 
identified. For objectives to be measurable, you should have gathered baseline information 
in the Needs Assessment section of the proposal in order to measure change. 

Measurable objectives will ease your work. You will be able to regularly judge what is 
going right or wrong and what activities need to be continued, discontinued or modified in 
relation to the project's goal. The project staff will be clear on its activities and purpose. 

Carefully stated objectives give everyone concerned, the funders, reviewers, and the 
grantee, a checklist of the activities being implemented. The objectives can serve as points 
of accomplishment in the timetable to keep track of progress. Please keep in mind that 
objectives are not cast in stone. Objectives can be modified, at any time, when 
circumstances warrant and with approval of the funder. 

Proposals may have a mix of different types of objectives. You can have either outcome or 
process objectives depending on the needs of your project. Objectives are written to 
identify specific accomplishments and/or activities for which data should be collected 
during the activities that can be used to judge whether the objectives were achieved. It is 
best to only write one specific accomplishment (outcome) or activit>' per objective. You 
should also avoid stating "why" the desired results will be achieved. 



A common mistake in proposal writing is to confuse outcome and process 
objectives: 

an OUTCOME OBJECTIVE states the end result(s) or benefit(s) that will be 
realized from the activity; and 

a PROCESS OBJECTIVE states the method employed in carrying out an activity 
in order to achieve an outcome. 

The difference between the two is critically important because they each suggest 
different criteria by which you and others will later evaluate the effectiveness of 
your program. See the evaluation section for samples on how to develop 
evaluation worksheets for outcome and process objectives. 



11 



OUTCOME OBJECTIVE 

An outcome objective is a statement which defines a measurable resuh the project expects 
to accomplish. In health-related projects, outcome objectives are important because they 
facilitate the monitoring of the number of individuals reached, training material developed, 
and changes in knowledge and behavior in a given population over time. 

Elements that should be contained in outcome objectives (product): 

Who is going to do what? 
What is going to be developed? 
How many will benefit? 
When will it be developed? 
How will it be developed? 

Here is an example of an outcome objective (product): 

One year after receiving the grant (when), the Vietnamese Association (who) will 
organize a Vietnamese community health coalition (what) with a minimum of 10 
CBOs (how many) signing a Memorandum of Understanding (how). 

In the health education field, outcome objectives are important because they can facilitate 
monitoring of the numbers of individuals reached and changes in knowledge and behavior 
in a given population over time. Therefore, outcome objectives should be described in 
terms that measure what results your project expects to accomplish (e.g. increased 
knowledge about HIV/AIDS). 

Elements that should be contained in outcome objectives (behavioral): 

Who is going to exhibit a behavior change? 

W'Tiat behavior is expected to occur? 

Under what situation will the behavior be observed? 

How is behavior going to be measured? 

What amount of time is necessary to bring about the specific behavior? 

What is the expected proficiency level?"^ 

Here are some examples of outcome objectives (behavioral): 

• At the end of a 4-day (time), in-service workshop (situation), the participating high 
school mathematics teachers (who) will confirm their comprehension of diagnostic 
and prescriptive techniques (what) as measured by a minimum gain of 10 raw score 
points (level) on a staff-development, pre- and post-test review (measurement tool). 

• At the end of the 1-year grant (time), the neighborhood health clinic (circimistance) 
\s-ill have a 30 percent increase (level) in the number of preventative health visits 
(what) by the Vietnamese community (who) as measured by a pre and post of the 
attendance records (how). 



12 



PROCESS OBJECTIVES 

Process objectives define an activity and/or method essential for achieving a given outcome 
objective or have a purpose that relates to a process. 

Process objectives are important because they provide valuable information regarding the 
types of methods and the level of effort required to produce the desired results or outcomes. 
They also ser\'e as the basis for formulating your work plan/strategy and assist in 
monitoring progress during each stage of the project. Keep in mind, funders are usually 
results-oriented rather than process oriented. In addition, process objectives are more 
complicated to evaluate than outcome objectives. 

"In many cases, you may feel that processes which will significantly 
impact on project success are just as important as product outcomes. 
Process objectives can cover such areas as teaching, training, learning, 
material development, administration, counseling, evaluating, advisory 
group participation, and so forth. 

"Before you write process objectives, you should ask yourself the 
following questions: 

"Is the inclusion of this process as an objective essential for explaining 
the benefits of the project? 

"Will the funding source understand why procedures and resources are 
included for this process unless it is mentioned as an objective? 

"Will it be necessary to address this process as a significant element in 
the evaluation and/or is the process a major component of the proposal? 

"If the answer to the above questions is yes, then a process objective 
should probably be written. 

Elements that should be contained in process objectives: 

What will be done? 

How it will be done? 

How much will be done? 

When will it be done? 

Who and how many will benefit? 

Here are some examples of process objectives: 

• To conduct 16 (how much) one-on-one (how) weekly street outreach sessions (what) 

with a total of 320 unduplicated individuals (how many) between the ages of 12 and 
40 (who) living in the XYZ neighborhood (where) from the fourth through the 
eighth month of the project (when). 



13 



Eight months after receiving the grant (when) the CBOs participating in the coaHtion 
(how it) will increase the number of Vietnamese accessing medical care (what) by 
30 percent (how much) to the Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 



Step one to writing objectives is to ask yourself: 

WHEN THE PROJECT IS COMPLETED, WHAT WILL THE 
CONCRETE OUTCOMES OR ACTIVITIES BE? 

You should list the anticipated outcomes and/or activities and write 
them as the project's objectives. 



"The project objectives may very likely be the most critical section of a 
proposal. Because they serve the purpose of stating what the project 
intends to accomplish, objectives constitute the basis on which reviewers 
will answer such questions as: 

"Is the project relevant to the funding source? 

"Will the project accomplish something that is 
significant, important, timely, innovative, and 
worthy of support? 

"Will the proposed outcomes really help solve an identified 
problem or need? 

"Are the intended outcomes of the project achievable? 

"Can the project be expected to result in data or information 
that will tell whether the project was a success? OR Can we 
learn from the project? 

"Are the suggested procedures appropriate to carry out the 
intended outcomes? 

"Is the budget reasonable to achieve the objectives? 

"Is the experience and training of key staff appropriate to 
implement the project? 

"The fate of the project will rest on judgments made about the 
objectives."' 



ibid., p. 107 



14 



WORKPLAN 



The workplan is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have thought through how the 
project will be successfully completed and the rationale for the budget. The workplan must 
convince the funder that you really know how to achieve the objectives and solve the need 
or gap in service that has been described in the Needs Assessment section. In addition, you 
must demonstrate that you are prepared to deal with issues that may arise during the 
implementation of the project. This section has to detail the procedures or methods that 
will be instituted to implement the project activities. 

There are a number of problems commonly found in the workplan section of the 
proposal.^ 

• The workplan does not match the objectives. The proposal may include objectives 
for which there are no plans of action; but it may also include plans of action that 
appear irrelevant and unrelated to any objectives. 

The proposal does not include a workplan. Instead of telling how the project will 
achieve an objective, the discussion goes back to why the project is necessary or 
what the results will be. 

• The workplan has no sound explanation. The funder expects you to justify why you 
have select fd a particular approach in the workplan. This is because v 'e know that 
problems can be solved in many different ways. You must convince the reviewers 
that you have selected the best one and justify your choice over other possible 
approaches. 

• The plan of action is not separated into distinct and manageable activities for each 
objective. 

• The plan of action does not deal with anticipated problems or possible obstacles. 
No contingencies are articulated, e.g. participant attrition. 

Evaluation is not included as an integral component of the workplan. 

• The plan of action does not develop a strategy for the project's continuation when 
the present funding ends, e.g. seek new funding sources. 

This section should describe how the project will work. It will probably be the longest 
section of the proposal because here you must describe in detail the major activities and 
methods you will employ in order to meet your objectives. The basic requirements of this 
section are clarity and justification. The methods should be understandable and should be 



15 



accompanied by an explanation of why you choose a particular strategy over another. 
The justification should also include a description of the project staff and the organization's 
capacit>', credibility, and experience which is needed to make the project successful. In 
addition, explain other collaborations you are planning, and how specifically they will be 
carried out. Include letters of agreement between you and other organizations stating 
specifically how they will assist in the implementation of the new project; endorsement 
letters should nol be included. Acknowledge efforts of others in your area conducting 
similar activities. If there are barriers to collaboration, explain them. 

Carefully describe and justify the methods you have chosen. Define the methods so 
reviewers do not make assumptions regarding the types of activities that you have proposed. 
If you are proposing street outreach, you must explain why and who your target population 
will be. How does your project define street outreach? In what neighborhood? 
Are there other street outreach programs in the area? How will you coordinate with them? 
Will you provide prevention materials and how will these materials be selected? Will 
referrals for additional services be provided? Your plan should also summarize how 
project activities will be coordinated with other projects. For example, you might explain 
how clients will be referred to other projects. You should provide detailed information on 
what will happen once participants move into these additional services. A well thought-out 
work plan will help you in preparing the project's budget and in designing your evaluation 
strategy. 

After completing the proposal's Workplan section, check off the following to insure that all 
the information for this section has been included: 



The major service components or types of effort to be undertaken (e.g., HIV/AIDS 
prevention counseling, support groups, bleach distribution, street outreach) and a 
justification for each of the methods chosen; 

A time line or chart that highlights the major project phases including people and/or 
organizations responsible, and list the beginning and end points of each activity in 
the project (a sequence for activities and how they will be implemented including 
responsibilities); 

Activities the project will undertake to assess/evaluate its progress at given intervals 
of time (e.g., quarterly, monthly); 

How the project will be managed and staffed; 

Organizational chart for the project; 

Linkages with local or state health departments and other appropriate service groups 
and organizations; 

Detailed letters of agreement with other organizations; 

The specific techniques to be used, materials to be developed and the number to be 
distributed, and the level of service to be provided (e.g., two training sessions per 
week. 3 hours each) that are related to specific objectives; 



16 



The cultural context and the language that will be used to implement the project; 

• How problems that arise during implementation will be handled; and 

How the project will be publicized. 

Be as specific as possible and follow a logical sequence. Two sample workplans follow. 
The first sample can be used if you are planning an activity like a health coalition. The 
project staff and representative leaders must prepare and plan future steps which will be 
presented to all the members for discussion, modification, and agreement after the project is 
funded. The second illustration is for a sample workplan by individual objective. You 
have to decide which sample best suites your needs: explains your project proposal best to 
the reviewers and/or serves as a better management tool for the project staff. 



17 



Sample Workplan for a Coalition Development Project 



BEGIN END RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITY 

Wk. 1 Wk. 4 Develop. Cmte 



OBJECTIVE 



8 Develop. Cmte. 



6 


12 


Org. Cmte. 


1 


8 


Develop. & 
Org. Cmte. 


1 


12 


Develop. Cmte. 


6 


12 


Org. Cmte. 


12 


18 


Mbr. Cmte. 



12 20 Work Plan Cmte. 



20 22 Conflict Cmte. 



20 24 Work Plan Cmte. 



Define the coalition's purpose, 

what it will do and also what 

it will not do Obj. #1 

Decide on clear goals that relate to 
the purpose, and objectives that are 
measurable, time-specific, and tied 
to the goals 

Decide on how administrative and 
financial arrangements will be handled 
during the formation period 

Decide on the best structure (board 

of directors, dues, membership, 

incorporate or not) Obj. #2 

Decide on who will lead the coalition; 

Prepare formal eligibility criteria 
for membership 

Prepare memorandum of understanding 

for agreements between members Obj. #3 

and coalition 

Prepare a forward plan (list goals, 
objectives, tasks, timetables, and 
people or organizations responsible) 

Establish a procedure to address problems 
and conflicts openly to avoid factionalism 

Establish a sustainability committee to 

seek new funding sources Obj. #4 



18 



Sample Workplan by Individual Objectives 



Objective 2.1: At the end of the 1-year grant (time), the neighborhood health clinic 
(circumstance) will have a 30 percent increase (level) in the number of preventative health 
visits (what) by the Vietnamese community (who) as measured by a pre- and post- 
verification of the attendance records (how). 



BEGIN END 

Week 1 Week 2 
2 3 



20 



50 



52 



22 



52 



52 



RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITY 

XYZ CBO & hosp. Review hospital attendance recording procedure 



XYZ CBO 



XYZ CBO 



XYZ CBO 



XYZ CBO 



XYZ CBO, 

hosp. & comm. 

XYZ CBO 



XYZ CBO 



Discuss with the appropriate hospital staff the 
purpose of the project 

Decide how pre- and post-verification of 
attendance records will be compiled 

Review attendance records and calculate pre 
attendance numbers by Vietnamese community 

Review hospital attendance procedure for 
accuracy and completeness 

Tabulate the records to determine if the project 
on target and take action if required 

Tabulate the records and record the Vietnamese 
community attendance for the year 

Discuss with the Vietnamese community and 
hospital staff the findings, interpretation, and 
implications, and report results to funder 



Objective 3.2: To conduct 16 (how much) one-on-one (how) weekly street outreach 
sessions (what) with a total of 320 unduplicated individuals (how many) between the ages 
of 12 and 40 (who) living in the XYZ neighborhood (where) from the fourth through the 
eighth month of the project (when). 



BEGIN END RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITY 

Design form to keep record of information 
required 

Designate and train a staff person to keep the 
records 

13 XYZ CBO Review records keeping procedure for 

completeness and accuracy 



Week 9 Week 10 XYZ CBO 
10 11 XYZ CBO 

13 



19 



Sample Workplan by Individual Objectives - cont. 



17 


17 


XYZ CBO 


33 


33 


XYZ CBO 


35 


35 


XYZ CBO 



Tabulate records to determine if the project is on 
target and take action if required 

Tabulate the records 

Report to the community and the funder 



20 



EVALUATION 



I 



An evaluation plan is an essential element of your proposal. Evaluation helps you 
determine the project's success in achieving goals and objectives. An evaluation plan will 
also assist you in determining a need for change in your project during implementation. 
Most funders require the applicant to document the extent to which all the project 
objectives were achieved. It is extremely important that the evaluation plan be 
straightforward and simple, and that you have a separate evaluation plan for each project 
objective. 

A good evaluation plan should not only provide for a summary of the results at the end of 
the project, but should also be an ongoing integral part of the program so that adjustments 
can be made as the project proceeds. Measurements of efforts should be conducted 
throughout the program, as well as at the conclusion. In addition, describe how you will 
monitor progress and handle problems that may arise. An on-going evaluation plan which 
includes a monitoring system is an excellent management tool that permits you to assess 
whether or not you are providing services that benefit your community at various times 
during the project 's implementation. 

Designing an evaluation plan that makes a convincing case for any positive changes 
brought about by your project demands: 

• Gathering baseline information for before and after comparisons; 
Writing specific and measurable objectives; 

• Preparing an evaluation worksheet that specifies by whom, when, how, and what data 
will be collected, analyzed, and reported; 

• Building evaluation measures into the routine of program procedures; 

• Using multiple measures, rather than a single measure, when possible (similar results 
establish credibilit\'); 

Writing objectives that measure changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior rather 
than satisfaction of program participants which is important but does not usually 
impact on health; and 

• Using program documents and record-keeping systems for on-going process 
evaluation. 



Seek assistance in preparing the evaluation plan. A well-prepared evaluation plan can help 
you provide better service for your community, and the results can be used to gain 
additional funding. Funders like success. If you can prove that you have something that 

21 



can work, it is more likely to be funded. State and Federal agencies and local universities 
can be good sources of technical assistance in your community. 

For a proposal to be successful, you will need to include a minimum of information on the 
evaluation worksheet so that the necessary planning is done and appropriate information is 
collected and not overlooked when the project begins. 

There are two types of evaluations that can be used to evaluate projects: outcome and 
process evaluation. Process evaluation describes the implementation of a program while an 
outcome evaluation examines the effects, benefits, or results of the activities. The 
following samples will help you in preparing evaluation worksheets and illustrates the 
differences between how to evaluate outcome and process objectives. 



22 



Sample of an Evaluation Worksheet for an Outcome Objective^ 



Objective: 



One year after receiving the grant (when), the Vietnamese Association 
(who) will organize a Vietnamese community health coalition (what) 
with a minimum of 10 CBOs (how many) signing a Memorandum of 
Understanding (how). 



Information 
Requirement: 



Number of CBOs that signed the MOU. 



Information 
Source: 



1) Coalition Records 

2) MOU 



Instrument: 
Design: 



Coalition Records 



Evaluator will review coalition records and MOU. 



Time 
Schedule: 



The evaluation will be conducted one month before the end of project 
period. 



Analvsis: 



The coalition records will be used to determine the CBO attendance 
and willingness to sign a MOU. 



Report: 



1) An oral presentation will be given to the coalition 1 week before 
the submission of the evaluation to the funder (30 days after the 
funding concluded) and 1 year after the conclusion of the grant. 

2) A written report to the funder reporting the complete evaluation 
findings will be sent 30 days after the funding concluded. 



Table is based on Owens and Evans, Program Evaluation Skills for Busy Administrators (Portland, OR: Northwest Regional 
Education Laboratory-, 1977), 39 and 40. in Hall, Mary S. Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writine . 3rd ed. Portland. 
Continuing Education Publications, 1988. 



23 



Sample of an Evaluation Worksheet for a Process Objective 



Objective: Eight months after receiving the grant (when), the CBOs participating 

in the coalition (how it) will increase the number of Vietnamese 
accessing medical care (what) by 30 percent (how much) to the 
medical center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 



Information 
Required: 1) 

2) 

3) 
4) 



Names of the CBOs that are part of the coalition. 

Projects implemented by the coalition (including purpose, objectives, 

and outcomes). 

Number of Vietnamese persons that use the medical center before and 

after the organization of the Vietnamese community health coalition. 

The Vietnamese community's perception of accessibility of the 

medical center. 



Instruments: 



Design: 



Time 
Schedule: 



1) Coalition records 

2) Coalition member questionnaire 

3) Medical center records 

4) Vietnamese community questionnaire 



1) Evaluator will review coalition records. 

2) Coalition members will fill out the questionnaire. 

3) Coalition staff will review medical center Vietnamese attendance 
records before and after organization of coalition. 

4) Vietnamese community will complete the questionnaire. 



1) First activity, the coalition staff will review medical center attendance 
records of the Vietnamese community before organization of coalition. 

2) Sixty days before the end of the funding, the evaluator will review 
coalition records. 

3) Thirty days before the end of the funding, the coalition members will 
fill out the questionnaire. 

4) Fifteen days before the end of the funding, the Vietnamese communit}' 
will complete the questionnaire. 



'lable is based on Owens and Evans. Program Evaluation Skills for Busy Administrators (Portland, OR: Northwest Regional 
Educaiion Laborator,', 1977), 39 and 40, in Hall, Mar>' S. Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writing . 3rd ed. Portland; 
Continuing Education Publications, 1988. 



24 



Sample of an Evaluation Worksheet for a Process Objective - cont. 



5) One day before the end of the funding, the coaHtion staff will review 
medical center attendance records of the Vietnamese community. 



Analysis: 1) The number of persons from the Vietnamese community utilizing the 
medical center before the organization of the coalition will be 
tabulated and used as the baseline information to judge increased 
access. 

2) The attendance, signing MOU, and participation of the CBOs noted in 
the coalition records will be tabulated in order to determine 
involvement and commitment to the coalition. 

3) The information from the coalition member questionnaire will be 
tabulated to determine purpose, objectives, and outcomes of the 
projects implemented by the coalition to increase access to the medical 
center. 

4) The information from the Vietnamese community questionnaire will 
be tabulated to determine if the community has increased access to the 
medical center. 

5) The medical center's attendance records of the Vietnamese community 
will be tabulated and compared with the baseline information to 
determine increased access to the medical center. 



Report: 1) An oral presentation to the Vietnamese community and the coalition 

by the evaluator will be given one week before the submission of the 
evaluation to the Funder (30 days after the termination of the funding). 
2) A written report to the Funder reporting the complete evaluation 
findings will be sent 30 days after the funding concluded. 



25 



BUDGET 



Although a budget only represents an estimate of the cost of the project, the amounts 
should be as specific as possible and should be the minimum sufficient to support the 
project. 

No one wants to waste money on a project whose budget proposal shows it is too 
expensive to justify anticipated results. Realize that reviewers are experienced and 
familiar with budget realities. If the budget appears inadequate for the proposed tasks, the 
reviewer's judgment will be just as negative as when too much is requested. When 
planning the budget, ask yourself some basic questions. 



What will the project cost? What are the direct costs, the indirect costs? Where is the 
money coming from? What is the contribution of the CBO submitting the proposal? 
Are matching funds available? What equipment is available, what will have to be 
purchased? Are the facilities you have suitable for the project, or will other facilities 
be required? What is the expected outlay for staff, support services, supplies, 
instrumentation, consultants, field trips, administrative needs? 



A good way to make certain the budget is kept equitable and sensible is to work on it 
conscientiously from the start of the proposal preparation process. Maintain a running 
budget as the planning proceeds. Get quotes. Put down the numbers as you proceed. Do 
not guess! The biggest mistake in proposal writing is that budgets are dashed off without a 
review or thought. You are running late, the deadline has arrived and the budget is the last 
piece to be finished. 

Federal agencies require the use of application form 5161-1 when preparing a grant 
application. It contains a section entitled Budget Information (SF 424-A) with instructions. 
In addition to this form, the submission of a detailed budget justification for each category 
proposed is necessary. The budget justification should explain how each proposed cost 
relates to the objectives. Also include a computational explanation of how costs were 
determined. 

The budget usually consists of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are those costs that 
can specifically be identified with a particular project. Normally, most of the costs funded 
will be direct costs. For example, direct costs would be personnel, fringe benefits, 
materials and supplies, equipment, travel and contractual expenses. These costs can be 
identified specifically for a particular project in that without the project, there would be no 
costs. 



26 



Indirect costs are defined as those costs incurred for a common or joint objective and 
which, therefore, cannot be identified specifically to a particular project. These costs might 
include personnel for administration, accounting, procurement, or housekeeping. Other 
indirect costs might include rent, utilities, insurance, and taxes. These costs cannot be 
identified specifically to a particular project because without it, these costs would still exist. 

Funders are concerned about the economic feasibility of a project proposal. Funds are 
limited, and we want the most benefits from the funds congress appropriates to OMH. This 
can be accomplished only with a realistically budgeted project that does not waste funds on 
useless frills, but also does not cut corners or compromise the quality of the work to shave 
the budget a little closer to the fiscal bone. 



27 



WHAT IF? 



If your proposal is not funded, ask for a debriefing. Remember, professional proposal 
writers do not expect to obtain funding for all their proposals. A 25 percent funding 
percentage is considered excellent. A debriefing will give you information on how to 
correct mistakes and to improve what you did right last time. When a proposal isn't 
funded, you need to know the reasons why for the next time. 

Did you do something in the proposal you shouldn't have done? 

Was the proposal well organized and well written? 

Was the language clear and concise? 

Did you omit something you should have included? 

Which element(s) of the proposal caused a problem and why? 

What was good about the proposal? 

How could the proposal be improved? 

Practice will gradually lead to better and better proposals, and better proposals will brinj 
grants. Grant proposal writing is experiential; you improve by doing. 



28 



MONITORING 



1 



Monitoring is the periodic collection and analysis of selected indicators to enable the 
project managers and the funder to determine if key activities are being implemented as 
planned and are having the expected effects on the beneficiaries. Monitoring provides 
feedback to the project management in order to take timely remedial action when needed. 

Funders generally require measurement of the efforts throughout the project, as well as at 
the conclusion. You will need to include a minimum of information on a form like the 
Quarterly Report Format (QRF) displayed in the following page. The QRF provides the 
project staff and the funder with a summary of how the project is doing at specific points in 
time. 

In the Input portion of the QRF, you specify the personnel (person months) and the 
financial (funder' s funds, in-kind, matching funds, and/or other contribution) inputs per 
quarter in the Planned column that are necessary to achieve the project objectives. In the 
Output section, you specify the project objectives with their respective "indicator (s)" per 
quarter in the Planned column. The indicators should already be embedded in the 
objectives. The indicator is the evidence that will determine whether an objective has been 
met or not. There should be at least one indicator per objective. 

After the project is funded, you can submit to the funder Quarterly Reports that provide 
actual figures indicating actual achievements for a specific quarter in order to keep the 
funding agency apprised of the project's progress. The positive and negative differences 
between the planned and actual achievements are indicated in the Deviation column. 
Reasons for successes (positive deviations) and delays/problems (negative deviations) will 
be explained in the narrative section. 

Please keep in mind that inputs and objectives can and do change during the life of a 
project. When the project staff anticipates a change, the modification should be noted on 
the report as a change, and the reporting should reflect the new condition. For example, the 
number of training sessions may go up or down because of demand, and additional staff is 
required because the number of training sessions has gone from 3 to 6 in the third quarter. 
The report should be flexible so as to take into consideration growth and/or learning that a 
project experiences during implementation. 

See next page for an example. 



29 



Grant Number 
D77MP9411 


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Obj. #1 - The Vietnamese Assoc, will 
organize will organize a Viet, 
community health coalition. 




Obj. #2 - The neighborhood health 
clinic will have a 30% increase in the 
number of preventative health visits 
by the Viet, community. 











APPENDIX 



REVIEW CRITERIA: Applications will be reviewed and evaluated for technical merit and 
consistency with the requirements of the grant announcement. The following criteria under 
the listed headings are of specific importance. (An indication of the quantitative weight 
appears in parenfheses after each heading): 

I. Needs Assessment [20%! 

The proposal should reflect how the applicant's understanding of the problem and the 
organizational capacity and experience in providing services to the target population will 
facilitate implementation of the program. Criteria include: 

• Clarity, specificity, depth, and coherence of the described problem(s) and need(s) 
locally, regionally, or nationally of the target-population; 

• Clarity and consistency with the OMH mission and the purpose of this grant program; 

• Extent and outcomes of past efforts/activities. 

II. Goals and Objectives [25%! 

The proposal should reflect realistic, attainable objectives and a detailed, manageable work 
plan which is consistent with the objectives. Criteria include: 

• Relevance of proposed goals to the stated problem and to the OMH mission and the 
purpose of this grant program; 

• Merit of the proposed objectives, including their measurability and relevance to the 
stated project goals, and soundness/attainability of the time frame specified; 

• Soundness/attainabilit>' of proposed impacts/results/products. 

III. Workplan/Strategv [35%! 

The proposal should reflect an understanding of the target population's needs; and describe 
the specific intervention methods to be used in meeting the communities' needs. Criteria 
include: 

Activities 

• Strength of specific activities proposed, including their scope and relevance to each of 

31 



the stated objectives and projected outcomes; 

• Extent, strength, and depth of the proposed coalition activities; 

• evidence that a product/model has the potential to benefit other minority communities. 
Process 

• Clarity and feasibility of project time schedule; 

• Soundness and logic of the activities proposed; 

• Efficacy of proposed linkages as related to enhancing the project's efforts. 

Target Population 

• Specificity of data on the intended target group; 

• Soundness of approaches to reach and attain projected participation; 

• Organizations' commitment to participate in coalition. 



Management/Staffing 

• Quality of academic and experiential background and soundness of proposed time 
commitment of Project Director; 

• Quality of academic and experiential background and soimdness of proposed time 
commitments of proposed key staff and consultants; 

• Strength of applicant organization's capability to manage and accomplish the project. 

IV. Evaluation Plan [20%] 

The proposal should describe the information and data that will be collected to determine 
whether objectives have been met. Criteria include: 

• Clariiy and specificity of proposed qualitative and quantitative measures of project 
accomplishment; 

• Soundness of proposed methods of data collection and their relationship to stated 
objectives; 

• Soundness of proposed data analysis and reporting methods; 



32 



• Clarity and feasibility of project time schedule. 

V. Sustainabilitv Strategy 

• Relevance, measurability, and attainability of the proposed objectives. 

VI. Budget/Financial Plan 

• Soundness of budget justification items as they relate to objectives; and 

• Nature and extent of in-kind contributions. 



VII. Progress Report (for currently funded OMH grantees) 

• Strength of evidence that progress is being made under current OMH project grant. 

VIII. Project Summarv 

• Coherence and completeness of project summary. 



Read the instructions on the RFA packet, follow the instructions exactly without 
cutting comers, and eventually you'll have a responsive proposal, ready to submit on 
time that is clear, honest, straightforward, unencumbered with jargon, and no longer 
than is allowed (PHS puts page limits on most proposals). Such a proposal, and 
only such a proposal, gains a fair hearing for your project. 



33 



REFERENCES 



I 



Hall, Mary S. Getting Funded: A Complete Guide to Proposal Writing. 3rd ed. 
Portland, OR: Continuing Education Publications, 1988. 

Meador, Roy. Guidelines for Preparing Proposals. 2nd ed. Chelsea, MA: Lewis 
Publishers, Inc., 1991. 

Technical Assistance Reports. Proposal Writing for HIV/AIDS Prevention Grants. 
Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Mayors, Sept. 1992. 



Note: 

Mary Hall's Getting Funded can be purchased for $27.95 from: 

Portland State University Press 

Continuing Education Press 

P.O. 1394 

Portland, Oregon 97207 



34 



^■:^^