Tips for Successful Grant Applications

First and foremost, always follow the funding application guidelines and the instructions provided as you are entering information in the application.  Do not skip any of the listed steps and/or requirements; upload the most current of all data; and never make assumptions. For clarity, please contact the SCRA office at [email protected] or 563.344.2626.  Adhering to these key criteria helps construct a comprehensive grant submission.

Tips for Successful Grant Applications

1.  Before you log in to create your application, read the Letter from the SCRA President and SCRA Funding Application Guidelines to fully understand the application’s requirements.  Outline what needs to be included so that all of the essential documents and messages are included.

2.  Be concise ~ If the application asks for a one sentence description, provide what is asked for.  Always keep in mind that the volunteers reviewing your application are reading numerous applications and you want your “Point of View” to be very distinct and easy to comprehend.

3.  Budget ~ Review what is deemed to be acceptable expenses.  Do not request funding for items that are  not on that list; for example, requests for personnel expenses should not be made.  Your application is strengthened when you demonstrate that other financial resources are available for the overall expense.  If you are only accessing one financial resource, it may weaken your application due to the lack of collaboration.  The Allocation Panel looks at this to understand the organization’s ability to successfully achieve the stated goal.

4.  Be specific with your request.  Hone in on exactly what you hope to accomplish and what it will take to accomplish that goal.  An application should not be generic.  The focus needs to be clear and not left to the reader to assume or draw their own conclusions.  Do not confuse the importance of the project with the purpose of the project.  SCRA will provide reimbursement only for the purchases included in the original grant request.

5.  Ensure that your application is not boiler plate, i.e. do not cut and paste another application into the format of a new application.  The application needs to be accurate in all ways and again, specific to the cause for which you are seeking funding.

6.  Goals and objectives need to be measurable and easily tracked.  Measuring and tracking goals is an excellent metric for future applications.  For example, if a program requested $20,000 to expand XYZ service to serve an additional 500 clients, measure and track the success.  A potential grantee can use that data to demonstrate fiduciary responsibility and implementation expertise for future applications.

7.  Financial Statements ~ Non-profit applicants must provide the most recent full fiscal year Balance Sheet and Income Statement.  Substitution of outdated financial information is not an option.

8.  Understand the criteria the Allocation Panel will use to assess your application.  If you do not have that information, ask for it. (see SCRA – Grant Evaluation Guide below)

9.  Readability ~ Adhere to the format SCRA has established; be upbeat, positive and interesting (remember the panel reads numerous applications and you want yours to be memorable); be clear and concise, using minimal acronyms.  Read and edit the entire application; and have a pair of “fresh eyes” review your proposal for input and edits.

10. Local Impact ~ Provide supporting documentation as to the number of individuals who will be impacted by the proposal.  For SCRA, it is imperative that the proposal impacts Scott County residents.

11. Timeliness ~ Complete your application in advance to ensure you have sufficient time to make any edits and submit through the online application portal before the deadline of 5:00 p.m. on April 1 or October 1.

12. If awarded funding, ensure a system is in place for documenting the approved funded expense(s) for reimbursement.  Inform internal staff what will be necessary to receive payment.  Under no circumstances will funding be provided up front.  SCRA will only reimburse for grant approved expenses, per your grant agreement, with supporting documentation.

Common Reasons Why Grant Proposals are Rejected or Score Lower:

  • Applications are unclear or missing required information
  • Need is not adequately defined
  • Application may be too ambitious
  • Budget is vague, unrealistic or lacks other funding sources
  • Lack of personnel to execute
  • Past experience does not demonstrate expertise for successful implementation
  • Poorly written
  • No or limited correlation to agency mission, vision and values
  • Incomplete application (see checklist below)
  • Impact on Scott County, Iowa residents is unclear or insignificant

SCRA Application Checklist:

  1. Face Sheet
  2. Project or Program Budget
  3. Narrative Questions
  4. Mission Statement
  5. Board of Directors (include city and state of residence)
  6. IRS Determination Letter – required for first time non-profit organization applications
  7. Certificate of Existence (from state of organization’s principal place of business) – required for first time non-profit organization applications
  8. Balance Sheet and Income Statement – required for non-profit organizations to upload documents for most recent full fiscal year
  9. Electronic Signature

SCRA – Grant Evaluation Guide (WORD)