Follow the directions. It may sound simple, but the difference between being accepted and declined can be that straightforward.
Answer Every Question Concisely
Answer each question on the grant application clearly and directly. One of the biggest mistakes that writers make is not addressing the actual questions. Some tend to answer too briefly and do not provide enough details, while others tend to run on about any and everything except the topic of the question. Do not attempt to provide outside research statistics, cite journals, or quote books to impress the committee unless those sources are directly related to and support the impact of your project. Proofread; errors will cost you everything.
Do not be overwhelmed by the concept of writing this proposal. Fear of the unknown and anxiety about the scope of writing a proposal can truly have an adverse effect on the writing process. What many writers do not realize is that they do not have to be researchers, social scientists, or Ph.D.s to write a proposal. The truth is that no matter how large, impressive, or detailed a grant application is (and this one is detailed), approaching it one question at a time makes it a very simple and achievable task. Following these simple rules makes this proposal writing process easy and less daunting, and increases your chances of being accepted. It is worth spending extra time in the planning and writing phase, it saves time and energy during the implementation.
Identify Institutional Players Early
Make sure you know who all of your institution’s players are and the forms that need to be filled out when writing a proposal for your institution. Before you begin the grant application process, meet with your institution’s grants administration office, office of planning and research, or sponsored program office.
Discuss with them the processes, policies, and procedures they have in place. For example, is it their policy to hold back a percentage of your grant for administration? Involving this department and their expertise as early as possible saves you numerous hours and headaches, as well as add the professional touch that may very well make the difference between you being awarded the grant or not.
Create a Proposal Outline
Be alert to needs being voiced by colleagues at state and regional meetings, and other gatherings of international education professionals or needs that come to your attention and can be discussed, confirmed, and acted upon with help from others. Think about the big picture of international education with special attention to gaps, shortages, opportunities, etc. Consider looking for such things knowing that “good things can always become better” and use that as a project mantra. Thinking big and taking risks should be embraced, not avoided.
Create a detailed outline and put out some informal feelers to see if your target audience would be interested in attending the program. How can you prepare a proposal with limited to no knowledge about the demand for this program? The elements of the project always take longer than you think they will. Map out your project and then simplify it by half. Remember that staffing shortages, illnesses, schedule changes, other professional responsibilities, and technological problems can occur at any time without warning, leaving your already full schedule even busier. Due to the nature of the international education profession, collaborators and others involved in the project will most likely be traveling a fair amount. It is essential to plan accordingly for this.
Develop a Communication Strategy
Communication is the most important element for success. Immediately establishing a means for communication as you embark on the proposal makes the whole process easier and more efficient. The communication system you choose must be agreed upon by all partnering individuals, departments, and institutions and can take on various forms, including: teleconferences, a dedicated Web site, Web conferencing, Skype and other conference meeting software, and in-person committee meetings. The scope of the project, the geography, and time limitations of your collaborators are key elements to take into consideration when choosing your communication scheme.
Identify Technology Needs
If technology is going to play a significant role in your project, as you are developing your proposal, be sure to speak at length and depth to the technology professionals with whom you are working. If more than one institution or office is to be involved, ensure that all technology professionals are in communication with each other during the planning phase as well as the implementation phase. Take into account all of the technological limitations of yourself and your partners, and hurdles due to lack of resources, staff time, and access to technology.