One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a grantseeker is to view a grant proposal as a means to buy products or hire new personnel for your organization. This is because grants fund activities aimed at a specific outcome or objectives and cover costs, such as personnel or equipment, only to the degree that they contribute to its implementation. Additionally, grants fund projects that have positive repercussions not just on the entity applying, but also on the broader community by, for example, furthering economic development and increasing employment rates in a particular region, improving access to services, or reducing carbon emissions.
In the European context, grants tend to support innovation and R&D activities and are often quite competitive. What this all adds up to is that pursuing grants requires conceptualizing and developing a well-articulated project that responds to the objectives of the grant call and programme to which you’re applying. Grants fund projects and the more significant the potential award, the more substantial the project required for a competitive application.
At first impact, the fact that grants fund projects can be daunting for applicants. You may worry that the process could be a waste of time and resources. Yet, conceptualizing and developing a project and building a consortium can, in the long run, help your organization grow in multiple ways, even if you should not succeed in obtaining funding on your first try. This is because a project-based approach can help clarify your organization’s objectives, identify the forms of expertise and resources you already have and those you need, and help you develop a network of partners.
Changing your mindset as a grantseeker will allow you to better understand what grantmakers are looking to fund and why, to weigh the pros and cons of taking on this challenge and to be better prepared to develop a successful application or grant proposal.