Writing effective proposals key to securing grant funding
Wed, 04/06/2016 - 12:00am
A number of small entrepreneurs and some public officers have been given some useful advice on writing proposals.
The advice came Proposal Writing Training Consultant Kirk Brown.
“Everybody in this room becomes an expert, whether or not you become an exceptional person at writing proposals will depend on how often you are exposed to it, how often you practise, how often you write a proposal,” Brown said.
He remarked also that like everything else in life, if one does not practise, “the information is going to be lost; you wont be any better off”.
He spoke during a recent proposal writing workshop organised by the Ministry of Labour. Small business owners and public sector representatives were targeted for this meeting to grasp the basic concepts of writing a successful project proposal.
Brown told the participants that while his presentation aims at steering them in the right direction to writing successful proposals, “there are really no guarantees in this process, but I will safely say that if one adopts the information presented, you should have enough information that if you are alone somewhere and have to write a proposal, you should be OK”.
He highlighted that an important step to writing a proposal is to have a friend proof read it. “Find a friend who can review what you write, an exercise called ‘peer review’. If the information you are presenting is not clear to your colleague, then I can assure you it probably will not make any sense to the evaluator who will be assessing your proposal.”
According to Brown, in most cases businesses are unsuccessful in accessing grant funding due to insufficient information about their
“It is important to provide a background or overview of your organisation or company in the proposal. One of the big challenges is we do not sell ourselves. It is a known fact that most people assume the reader will know something about your company or organisation. Securing grants depends significantly on providing convincing background about your company. When people write proposals they do not present all the information about their company,” he lamented.
Another critical aspect of writing proposals is the issue of property protection, says Brown.
“There is a difference between what I call good information, bad information and proprietary information. Proprietary information should never be put in a proposal. If you do that, I think you are just asking for disaster, you would have given away your business idea. In responding to a proposal request, if you are required to provide proprietary information, that is a no-no,” he warned.
“For those of you in small business it is important to protect your property, your ideas. When you are dealing with small companies applying for funding, please dance around the information that relates to some extent what you are asking for, without giving away the true specifics of what it is you are doing. If you give away proprietary information, chances are your product will be stolen.”
Meeting the criteria for grant funding is also of paramount importance, he remarked. “So while the criteria is stated, there will be no exceptions to it – so you will either have to meet it or if you don’t, then you can’t participate. Again, people need to understand that there are no ifs or buts. You either meet it, match it or exceed. If you don’t match, meet or exceed, there is no point going through the process.”
During his presentation, the consultant also dispelled the myth that grant funding is only there for a few. “There is a myth surrounding the grant funding,” he said. “Grant funding is for everybody, any company, entity, or individual who meets the requirement. It does not matter whether or not you are listed at the Barbados Stock Exchange, you are listed in 14 countries in Caricom, you are exporting to the US, it does not matter. Grant funding is technically an opportunity to do something you have longed to do for your business. Don’t be like most people to go for a grant to do the things that you can afford to do.”
Brown advised the participants to seek funding which will bring about positive change to their business or country.
“Grants should be sought after to do something that will transform your business, something that will have a multiplying effect on my business chain. You must balance whether you apply for grant funding for activities that are transformational or simply everyday activity – it makes no sense to go for grant funding for things you can afford to do.”