Insider Tips for Federal Grant Writing – Part 2

By Michelle Anderson

In the previous post, we emphasized the significance of harmonizing your narrative’s language with the solicitation, grasping the mission’s essence, and conveying goals with clarity and brevity. In this installment, you will learn how to define the narrative’s content, showcase concrete accomplishments, illustrate how funding assistance can facilitate desired results, and ensure compliance with grant requirements regarding project timelines, milestones, and reporting duties.

For a federal grant application, the narrative should include the following (at minimum):

  • Geographic location for service delivery, statement of need, current capacity of the organization, project objectives, timelines, plan, activities, outputs, timeline, milestones, outcomes, evaluation, budget narrative, and fidelity management of federal funds.
  • Grantees for federal funding for direct care services must have a service delivery protocol in place to include:
    • eligibility criteria for acceptance into program
    • utilization of a standardized, validated, and evidence- screening tool for identification
    • an emergency response plan
    • detailed case management plans
    • referral and discharge protocols
    • a post-service-delivery evaluation by participants to assess the pros and cons of the current programming
    • Addition: To ensure comprehensiveness of the service-delivery protocol, consider also including a referral protocol to a network of secure housing providers if residential support is a priority of the funding, but beyond the scope of services for the organization. This would include: emergency, short-term, transitional, and long-term housing.

The most compelling applications are the ones that show a history of measurable results from the work of their organization with detailed descriptions of current programming. This should include a high number of individuals served, tangible outcomes, a positive impact on the intended population, and a clear sustainability plan. Additionally, this presentation of current programming is most impactful when the successes are presented alongside lessons learned that will inform strategies, policies, and procedures moving forward. Typically, federal funding for direct service programs prioritizes organizations that can show their ability to create and expand programming for comprehensive case management and community outreach efforts while working rigorously to ensure sustainability for their organizational capacity to deliver services. Applicants whose organizations have prioritized multi-disciplinary partnerships with stakeholders in their field will show a greater understanding of the importance of touch-points of care at numerous levels.

For non-profit programs serving survivors of trauma and abuse, programs should incorporate survivor-leadership reflecting the populations being served within all project implementation plans and outreach efforts will show a higher level of cultural competence and responsiveness. Their involvement may include: brainstorming realistic ways to reduce vulnerability to victimization, making connections to potential partners, suggesting adjustments to antiquated organizational policies, guiding outreach efforts as a way of increasing the support for historically underserved individuals, developing more effective strategies for victim identification, expanding case management protocols (i.e. advocacy within the varied systems of care, direct care service plan development and delivery, monitoring participant progress, community referrals, aftercare support, etc.), spearheading mentorship groups, and increasing the modes of program evaluation by participants. Keep in mind that “outreach” is not the same as “awareness” regarding funding parameters. In the case of victim service organizations, “outreach” is direct contact with individuals who may have experienced victimization or who are at a heightened risk for victimization. Outreach efforts may include screenings for victim identification in detention centers, community organizations, foster care, diversion programs, or child care centers, but such screenings should only be conducted when it is safe to do so.

If the RFA requires intended outcomes, this means it requires additional outcomes that will be achieved from this funding opportunity beyond the successful outcomes of the current programming. Federal funding streams are looking for very clear and concise tangible outcomes that will be accomplished with this potential funding opportunity. You want to make sure that you are presenting an expansion of the program beyond the increase in the number of those being included in the current program. Will there be any expansion of the programming itself beyond more participants? Federal evaluators are looking to see how the funding will be utilized to thoughtfully and intentionally expand programming to increase the number of services provided.

As always, at Ascend Consulting, we are here to help with grant writing, grant review, and research as you navigate your way through the complexities of the federal funding process as we are entering into the upcoming federal grant season. Our grant writers and editors have an impressively high success rate at acquiring funding on behalf of our clients.

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