Strategic Planning Before Grant Writing

Strategic Planning Before Grant Writing

Angela Epps - Date: 2007-01-19

People sign up for my grant writing workshops to learn to write grant proposals. I often find they have great ideas, big hearts, and lots of activities that they believe will make a difference. What I tell them all-even those who want to hire me as a grant writer-is they need a sound plan before they start writing. There are an infinite number of activities that one can engage in on behalf of hunger, literacy, homelessness, pollution, etc. If these activities aren't linked to objectives plotted to reach a goal, you will be exhausted with no measurable differences occurring over time. If you're attempting to address the root causes of issues, plan first, and focus your energies in ways that are more apt to move your organization toward your realization of long-term goals.

How is planning different from answering the questions posed in a grant application?

Strategic planning is a process of thinking through a project in light of every imaginable detail. A great plan is based on reality. It factors in:

* what you intend to accomplish;
* the resources that you have as an organization;
* any partners or stakeholders who care about and support your vision; and
* your strengths and weaknesses.

After you've identified this information, you can begin to plot the kinds of activities you might deliver. There are so many ways to tackle a problem or issue. Your approach must be based on the above information, as well as the specific needs of the clients, environment, or issues addressed. This requires hours and hours of research. Consider how many agencies and organizations receive grants and run full time, and yet there are negligible changes after years or decades of project implementation.

Which brings us to research-based approaches.

Many funders now want to know whether there is research that supports your proposed methods for grant implementation. We can all brainstorm and come up with lovely ideas, but successes are based on more than fantasies. Just think of how many concerns there are about the education system. In spite of billions of dollars invested, significant numbers of children still can't read. Now, however, there is a growing body of research that supports using particular strategies to ameliorate specific conditions and challenges. Such research reinforces the wisdom of your choices for intervention or prevention programs.

Strategic planning can be a time-consuming endeavor, and it delays our desire to get the money yesterday; however, writing a winning grant proposal that will make a difference is hinged on in-depth thinking beforehand.

Angela Belcher Epps ( has won more than $20,000,000 in competitive grants for school systems, churches and community organizations. With experience as a Grants Specialist for two large New York City school districts, and a decade of freelance consulting, Epps has mastered techniques for researching and writing successful Federal, State, and foundation grants. Sole proprietor of The Writing Clinic, Angela provides a range of support services for individuals and organizations, including grant writing assistance, proposal writing workshops, proposal review and feedback, funding source identification, and strategic planning sessions.
Angela's creative writing has been published in Essence Magazine, Redbook, the Dan River Anthology, the Conservatory of American Letters Anthology, and others. Visit Angela at The Writing Clinic online at

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