The Development Source

How to Develop Grant Win Strategies and Win Themes

The win strategies and win themes you develop will determine whether or not your grant proposal is funded.  It is that simple.  If reviewers cannot quickly understand what are the main themes of your proposal and find them compelling, your proposal probably will receive a low evaluation score.

David Warley, a proposal management professional, has provided good advice about how to do this systematically and thoughtfully.  According to him, you should follow a seven-step strategy, which is explained below.  Although Warley applies this approach to the development of business proposals, it also applies to the development of nonprofit proposals to government agencies.

Step 1:  Focus on the Issues

Make a list of the most pressing issues that your funder has identified in the grant guidelines.  This list should be longer rather than shorter.

Step 2:  Analyze your Capability

Once you have your list, analyze your organization’s ability to meet them.  If you have too many issues that you cannot address, you should not bid on the grant opportunity.

Step 3:  Find your Discriminators

Once you have decided to bid, make a list of discriminators that shows your ability to address the issues.  You are trying to determine your own gaps, which will matter to the funder.

Step 4:  Identify Strategies

Now you need to address two basic strategies:  (1) mitigate your weaknesses; and (2) highlight your own strengths. 

Step 5:  Choose your Themes

Develop your win themes.  Each win theme must answer a simple but tough question:  So what?

Step 6:  Develop your Theme Statements

Turn your win themes into statements to use in your proposal.  Your win themes should address the following :  goals, issues, features, benefits, and proofs.  Every win theme must show how your solution will benefit the funder.

Step 7:  Weave your Win Themes into your Proposal

When you outline your proposal  and develop your grant proposal sections, weave your win themes into your Executive Summary, call-out boxes, major sections, and action captions for pictures.  These win themes will serve as the scaffolding of your proposal.

Warley is right.  There is a great deal to be said for using lists!  Develop win strategies and theme statements before you begin outlining and writing, and your grant proposals will be more focused, persuasive, and compelling.

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