Grants provide the resources often necessary to fund research projects, preserve artifacts, digitally preserve archives and provide digital access to collections. However, the process of writing a successful grant proposal can be daunting, but also very exciting! To make the process a bit easier, we’ve put together five tips that will help you navigate the grant writing process effectively and increase your chances of securing funding to save your organization’s history.
1. Define Clear Goals & Objectives
Before diving into the grant writing process, it is essential to clearly define your project’s goals and objectives. Identify the specific outcomes you aim to achieve, whether it’s preserving a specific collection, digitally preserving historical documents or conducting research on a particular historical topic. Clear goals will demonstrate your project’s focus and help grant reviewers understand the impact of your work.
Put these goals on paper (or in a Google doc)! We often think our goals are defined, but when we challenge ourselves to write them out, we gain clarity. Meet with your team or find a colleague to brainstorm and/or review the goals you’ve written. This will provide direction as you search for grants and begin the formal writing process.
2. Thoroughly Research Grant Opportunities
Invest time in researching and identifying grant opportunities that align with your project’s objectives. We’re seeing a growing number of foundations, government agencies and non-profit organizations offering grants in the digital preservation space.
Each grant has its own requirements and preferences. Carefully review the eligibility criteria, funding priorities and submission guidelines to ensure your proposal meets the expectations of the grantor.
If you’re unfamiliar with the organization, take some time to understand their mission and culture. Even if it’s a group you’ve heard about previously, check to see if any major changes have taken place. Tailoring your proposal to fit the specific goals and values of the granting organization will significantly increase your chances of success.
We’ve done some of the heavy lifting for you and compiled a list of available grants that can help save your history here!
3. Develop a Compelling Narrative
Craft a narrative that clearly communicates the importance of your project, its potential impact and why it aligns with the grantor’s mission. Introduce the historical significance of your topic, highlight how it relates to broader themes or contemporary issues and discuss your work’s long term impact.
Use persuasive language to convey your passion, expertise and commitment to the field of history and digital preservation. Supporting your narrative with relevant data, case studies and/or community or industry testimonials will further strengthen your proposal.
Here’s a quick persuasive writing guide from Grammarly and another from the University of Minnesota. Even if you’re an expert wordsmith, a refresh can be helpful to get in the *write* headspace.
4. Create a Detailed Budget
Develop a detailed and realistic budget that clearly outlines how the grant funds will be spent. Identify all the necessary expenses, including personnel, equipment, supplies, travel costs, third party vendors and any other relevant expenses. Be sure to align your budget with the specific guidelines provided by the grantor. Justify each expense, demonstrating how it contributes to the successful completion of your project. A well-constructed budget will enhance the credibility of your proposal and showcase your ability to manage funds effectively.
If you’d like to include specific figures for costs associated with digital preservation imaging, metadata work, collections management software and online curation, feel free to reach out. We are here to help you save history.
5. Collaborate & Seek Feedback
Grant writing can be an iterative process. Seek input from colleagues, mentors or experts in your field. Be sure to remain open to feedback and thoroughly consider opinions. New perspectives and insights can help you refine and strengthen your proposal and address any potential weaknesses.
Additionally, consider partnering with other organizations that share similar interests and goals. Collaboration can not only enhance the impact of your project, but also show your ability to work well with others which can increase your chances of being awarded funding.
Facebook groups or listservs can be great resources to find organizations to collaborate with or individuals willing to grab a coffee and brainstorm. By all means, build your grant writing network!
Writing a successful grant proposal requires careful planning, meticulous research and effective communication. No small task! Remember, grant writing is a skill that improves with practice. Be persistent, learn from each experience and keep refining your approach. Best of luck in securing the funding needed to preserve your stories and make history accessible!
We have that list of digital preservation grant opportunities for you here.
As always, we’re available to provide more information about how we can support your project and any details needed for your budget proposal. Drop us a line anytime.