Grant Writing = Remodeling: Research is Critical
This is the fifth of a series of posts comparing grant writing to house remodeling.
Before starting the actual remodel, Kevin and I did LOTS of research. We researched techniques, the latest trends, installation processes, how-to, materials, and more. We subscribed (and still do) to a couple of home remodeling magazines. It seemed that every time we walked into a home building store, we explored the magazine rack searching for resources and “how-to” books. We spent hours hovering these magazines or books. We organized our research using multiple methods – three-ring binder with pages torn out of magazines, dog-eared many a page in the magazines and cloth bags for grouping and for easy movement from one place to the next.
Doing research prior to the remodel helped us to understand in greater depth what we needed to do and the materials and equipment needed to accomplish a successful remodel. And, we continued to do the research throughout the remodel, which yes, led to a few change-orders as we discovered new ideas and processes.
Research is critical to a successful grant proposal. What is the quantitative and/or qualitative data locally? How does it compare to the region, state, and nation? Have others addressed the same challenge(s) you are addressing? What did they do? Were they successful? Why or why not? What research supports your proposed program? Funders want to know what evidence or research supports your proposed program.
It is important for you to know if others have had the same or similar challenges. How did they address them? Can you model your program on their successful program? Basically, why re-invent the wheel if someone has successfully implemented a program that addresses the same or similar needs you are addressing. Yes, you may need to tweak to make it your own. However, modeling your program after an evidence-based program validates what you are proposing to the funder.
Doing this research helps you gain a wider breadth and deeper understanding of the need you are addressing and the key elements needed for a successful program design and implementation. The research should occur prior to, during, and after writing the grant. As you do your research, start a file to organize the information. This file can be electronic and/or paper. Having this research current and easily accessible also helps you to be grant ready.