Writing a Successful Grant Application

The Alberta Camping Association had the pleasure of attending the CCI-Canada Alberta/BC/Territories Regional Conference at Camp Caroline.  We were able to connect with camp leaders, share information about the ACA and attend a few workshops.  Here is some of the information we would like to share with those camps who were not able to attend.

Sharon Fraess, Administrator of Birch Bay Ranch and National Director of CCI-Canada presented a workshop on grant writing.

Grant Writing

When preparing to write a grant, it’s important to remember that real people will be reading your application and determining whether you will receive the funding you requested or not. Before jumping into writing your grant proposal, take a moment to consider, write down and discuss with a colleague these important questions.  Not only is it valuable for your own review it will also help the next person who might be apply for grants for your camp after you.

General - Apply for a Grant

Your Camp & Community

  • How would you describe your camp?
  • What are the unique features of your camp and what makes you significant to your community?
  • How would you define or identify your community or constituency?
  • Why should your camp be supported?
  • What factors give you reasonable chance of success? (skills, personal experience, etc.)

Specific Project Planning

  • What do you want funded?
  • What do you expect to achieve?
  • Why is it important to do this? Why is it important for YOUR CAMP to do this?
  • Why is the project worthy of funding?
  • How do you plan to do the project?
  • Who will be responsible for the project work? Who will be responsible for the money?
  • How will you know how well you have succeeded with this project?

Writing for a Specific Grant

  • Why are we applying for this grant? What needs or obstacles do we have? What are the benefits and who benefits if we overcome these obstacles?
  • Why are we applying NOW? What event or situation has led us to the place where we need this grant? (Figuring out what happened and being able to share specific events or stories may help the decision makers understand your need more fully)
  • Who will be reading this grant application? What do they know about your camp? What do you want them to know about your camp? What will be interesting or important to you if you had never heard about the camp before?

Funding Sources

There are many different funding sources. Find out what the funding source wants to accomplish. The closer you match the requirements of the grant, the greater your chance of success. Call or email the grantor to find out specific information about their organization and what they would like to see in a grant application.

Another great way to set yourself up for success is to find successful grant applications from previous intakes. Know what “wows” the decision committee could give you a leg up on the competition. You may also be inspired by their stories and find a way to position your camp’s similarly.

Write the Proposal

Use the preparation data to tailor your proposal.

Introduction: This describes your camp’s qualifications and credibility. Clearly state your camps purpose and goals, briefly describe your programs and activities as well as your clients and constituents.  Give evidence including statistics, quotes and testimonials that prove your camp’s accomplishments. Make sure it’s interesting but as brief as possible. Do not use jargon or ‘’camp language’’ that people outside of the industry wouldn’t automatically understand.  Make sure your introduction leads smoothly into the needs paragraph.

Needs paragraph: What is the need, purpose/goals of the funding organization and how does your project meet that need? Be realistic in what your camp can do and do not make any unsupported assumptions. Make a compelling case using objectives, methods and evolutions including who will do the evaluating and what criteria will be used to determine success.  Again, do not use jargon and keep it brief.

Budget: When sharing the budget for the project, make sure you are telling the same story as your introduction and needs paragraphs. Give a very detailed items with all budget amounts explained, making sure your numbers add up accurately throughout.  Be sure to use retail costs for your actual prices. If you have discounts they will be considered donations.

Summary: You will write this last even though it will be used as your first paragraph. This identifies the grant application and includes at least one sentence on each problem, credibility, objectives and methods. It should also include total costs, funds already obtained and amount requested in the proposal. Make sure it’s clear, brief and interesting.

Review, Edit and Perfect: Review it yourself and then have an uninformed friend or colleague read it over. Allow them to ask questions and suggest revisions on the proposal. Then carefully re-read the requirements of the funding agency and ask the following questions:

  • Have you answered all the questions?
  • DO NOT answer questions that have not been asked!
  • Have you supplied all the requested attachments and materials and deleted unrequested copy?
  • Is it readable? In proper format with plenty of white space?
  • Have you labeled and identified each page and item?
  • Are appropriate signatures affixed?
  • Have you copied and collated the required copies?

Submit: Now it’s time to actually submit your grant proposal! Be sure to submit it how the funding organization has requested: mail, fax or email. If mailing, use registered mail by the postmark of the deadline and keep a copy of your dated receipt from the post office. Also, keep a copy of all the materials including guidelines and make sure the contact person you listed on the grant application has a copy of the grant handy so they can easily provide responses if contacted. Keep track of any expected responses. It’s okay to contact the grantor if you do not hear back in a timely fashion.

Reporting: Once you receive the grant, the work is not over! Not only must you now complete the project you needed funding for, you also need to follow up with a few tasks including:

  1. Sign and return any required documents and keep copies.
  2. Carefully review grant application and any other materials received after you receive the grant.
  3. Set up a system to keep necessary information and inform personnel of procedures and processes for collecting data. Monitor data collection regularly.
  4. Inform grantor of any changes in personnel, project timeline or project design.
  5. Submit all requested documentation ON TIME! This includes progress reports, final budget, etc.
  6. Produce a final budget, making sure you have all the supporting documentation. If you have more than one grantor for a project, remember that you can only use your matched funds once. The same funds cannot be used to match two grants.
  7. If you are required to thank or acknowledge the grantor publicly, make sure you do it!

Writing Tips (Hints from Sharon and Annette from Birch Bay Ranch/CCI-Canada)

Write concisely: Your writing style should be professional and concise while still conveying your camp’s culture.  Show your camp’s personality, but make sure your sentences are clear, to the point and easy to read.

Tell a story: Remember the decision makers may not have heard of your camp or the specific project you’re highlighting in your grant proposal. Stories add relatability. Tell the tale of your camp, how the need came to be, the ideal outcome and how the grant fits into the tale. Use captivating language that draws in the reader and allows them to relate to your camp and it’s need.

Use case study examples: This is where all those preparation questions about your camp come in handy. Use specific examples to illustrate your need for funding to the decision committee. Avoid unnecessary information.

Edit the grant proposal: Having a second person check over the proposal is a key step in the grant writing process. A fresh set of eyes can help uncover unnecessary information, sections that are unclear and help you gauge the effectiveness of your story.

View more writing tips from the Grantsmanship Centre here.

Grants for Camps in Alberta

County Clothes Line (Strathcona County) 

Community Initiatives Program Project-Based Grant 

Community Facility Enhancement Program (Capital Projects Grant) 

Alberta Other Initiatives Grant 

Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) 

Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) 

Canada Summer Jobs 

Alberta Ecotrust Grants 

Burns Memorial Fund (Calgary) 

Carthy Foundation (Calgary) 

Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta (Grande Prairie) Community Impact Grants 

Drayton Valley Community Foundation (Drayton Valley) 

Hunter Family Foundation (Calgary) 

Community Foundation Lethbridge & Southern Alberta 

The Muttart Foundation (Edmonton) 

Nickle Foundation (Calgary) 

St. Albert Community Foundation (St. Albert) 

Categories: Fund Development, Grant Funding