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How to Write Your Grant Application's Program Design Section

2 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Constructing Your Grant Application

When you write the program design section of your grant application, remember that the point is to explain what you want to do with the grant monies. This is what the reviewers are interested in.

The program design includes a description of your program, goals, objectives, and activities. It also includes an implementation timeline, a management plan, and an evaluation plan. (Note that although some grant makers request separate management and evaluation plan sections, these sections are still considered critical components of the overall program design.)

You also need to define the population you serve, the partnerships you have with other agencies in your community, and the changes you plan to make. The program design section is the main event, so weigh every word carefully and make sure your sentences work together.

Start with power-packed words to describe your program

Use words and phrases such as provide, prepare, empower, catalyst, strengthening, and taking the lead. They indicate that your organization takes action. Here’s an example that uses these descriptive words and phrases:

After finishing a highly successful fundraising season, the Ledbetter Public Library will be able to provide 1,000 new titles in its reference collection. This new inventory will empower library users to frequent the reference department at higher rates. The new titles will be a catalyst for strengthening the library’s community presence. The Ledbetter Weekly News described the library as taking the lead in connecting the community to global resources.

Strengthen your case with solid goals and measurable objectives

Remember, you want to wow funding-request readers. To do so, make an impactful point by writing your goals in visionary terms. Use words such as decrease, deliver, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, and provide. These words point to meeting a level of performance.

Check out the following sample goals:

Goal 1: Provide clients with self-sufficiency training and applied-living models.

Goal 2: Deliver outreach strategies to new library users via the Lunch Online Project.

Similarly, write your objectives using the SMART structure, which means that your objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. In the following examples, each objective is aligned with the goal it addresses:

SMART Objective 1a: By the end of Year 1, 90 percent or more of Project Live clients will have completed their competencies journal and demonstrated self-sufficiency knowledge measured by case management goals set and goals obtained.

SMART Objective 2a: By the end of Year 5, increase the library’s online registration by 100% as measured by baseline registrations (card users) prior to Year 1.

Close the deal by focusing on the future

Use words and phrases such as external, internal, local fundraising, creating future funding partners, inviting more external funding sources to the organization’s table of partners, seeking to identify more investors in our stakeholders, and continuing grant-funded activities after the funding is gone.

These words and phrases don’t just point to something; they rocket off the page and say, “We’re planning for the future of this organization and asking for your help, but we have a plan for keeping this program alive after we spend your money.”

All types of funders want assurances that when you finish spending their money, the show or program will go on. No funder wants the efforts supported by their investment to suddenly shut down at the end of the funding period.

In your program design and evaluation section, you must write a paragraph to address the funder’s concerns about continuity, which arise during the funding request review stage. In fact, most grant applications include a question or a section on the sustainability of the project, where you must outline your plan for maintaining the project after grant funding ends. If this information isn’t explicitly requested, be sure to include it anyway.

This paragraph from the Project Live grant request lays out the organization’s financial plan for its project’s future:

The City of Hopeful has been successful in securing grants and contracts to support Project Live. In 2014, Project Live was awarded $3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal for a transitional housing facility and supportive services. This grant will cover five years of construction and operating support. This grant application seeks funding for three years of entrepreneurial training which will immensely benefit our clients.

On completion of this anticipated grant award, the City of Hopeful will have formed a Grants Advisory Committee and identified ongoing funding support for all aspects of Project Live including the proposed entrepreneurial program. In addition, several local philanthropists have requested one-on-one presentations from City Council members. One of our sustainability goals includes starting an endowment fund to perpetuate Project Live for this community.

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