Monday, June 21, 2010

We Recommend: Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools

Grant writers often find themselves struggling to define key sections of their grant proposals... who and where is our target audience, what impact do we expect our program or project to achieve, how will we evaluate success? Really, this is the meat of the proposal, yet many don't have enough information to adequately describe it. Program officers don't seem to have time to sit and explain it all to us, and evaluation methodologies are too often outside our area of expertise. If only there were some handy dandy tools to assist us in understanding what information we need, where to find it, and how to craft it into a powerful proposal.

Well, good news, there are just such tools! The Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools, to be exact.

So what exactly encompasses these tools, and how can grant writers take advantage? They are free, available to download here, and use again and again if needed. The tools are actually a set of worksheets which help grant writers and other staff involved in the proposal writing process figure out what information they need for a strong proposal, as well as where and how to get it. For example, many grant writers are asked to write a proposal for a project but have no clue why it is needed, what the issues are, and whether a need truly exists. For this purpose, the first worksheet of the Proposal Enhancement Tools is for :initial issue description". Wow! I wish I could have used this many many years ago when I first started writing grant proposals!

Another valuable worksheet is the "audience definition worksheet" which helps define not only the primary audience and its characteristics but also secondary and other potential audiences. Such a worksheet can be very helpful in ensuring that no demographics are left uncollected, and to assess the importance of people who a grant writer may not even consider otherwise.

A third worksheet worth mentioning is "projecting anticipated impact and costs/resource worksheet". I personally love this one... I can't count the times I have struggled to define the impact of a program for a client when I have absolutely no idea what the long-term effects will be, and they for some reason are unable to explain it to me in terms I can understand. This worksheet helps grant writers write a succinct and all-encompassing Anticipated Impact Statement through examples and exercises. Wonderful! And for those who hate writing the evaluation sections of their proposals, the good news is that two worksheets exists specially to make their lives easier: the "input/output worksheet" and the "evaluation measurement levels and methods worksheet". The titles say it all, wouldn't you agree?

Once again, visit the Purdue Proposal Enhancement Tools for help with definition and gathering of key information for grant proposals. Hope this recommendation is helpful.

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