Procedure: Preparing a grant application
The preparation of a grant application is a necessary and important part of life at Future Worlds Center. One, because our survival depends on securing competitive funding, and two, because we want our associates to feel independent in the sense that once trained how to write successful applications, they can survive anywhere.
The preparation of a successful grant application requires careful consideration of the following:
- Find (or better expect) the call early enough
- Have an innovative, sexy idea
- Find the ideal partners and collect all paperwork early enough
- Assign Roles and Responsibilities early enough
- Download and study the call requirements and all forms early enough
- Prepare an excellent application
- Plan for all logistics, including requesting clarifications and submitting the application, early enough
Roles and Responsibilities
Person in charge of the application process
Almost everybody at Future Worlds Center has great ideas for projects. However, they rarely have enough time to prepare a competitive application. The whole Preparing a grant application procedure was put in place so that this person can focus on preparing an excellent application capitalizing on his/her personal interests and expertise. All others take the burden of more or less standardized processes and tasks away, so that this person can remain focused at all times to the juice of the proposal.
Person in charge of logistics
A lot of time and effort for the preparation of an application is invested in logistics such as collecting materials from partners, downloading and sending files, communicating with people, photocopying and preparing the final documents etc. It is important that there is a reliable person in place to take this burden away from those involved with the actual juice of the application. This role is not to be underestimated!
Person in charge of creativity and innovation
Most applications require that the project is creative and/or innovative. This begins from the short name of the project, to its logo and of course the content and its exploitation. Innovation is everywhere, not just in a name or in the inclusion of an innovative process or a deliverable. The person in charge of this process does not necessarily need to come up with his or her own ideas. S/he is however:
- Responsible to arrange meetings between project members to brainstorm about the project ideas
- Responsible to choose from alternatives in case there are disagreements
This person must know the call requirements regarding the angle of innovation, the current and future priorities and the evaluation and scoring process and methodology of the innovative character of the proposal. Coming up with ideas is not enough; what is required is that the innovative character blends in and is mentioned (like putting worlds in the mouth of the evaluator) across the whole application.
In some calls, up to 20% of the score might come from the innovative character of the application.
Person in charge of preparing the theoretical background and justification
Person in charge of preparing the technical/development/activities WPs
This is usually the juice of the application.
In most calls, up to 10-20% of the score might come from the methodology and activities parts of the application.
Person in charge of the budget
The preparation of the budget is not easy. It might consume more than 30% of the total time/effort invested. The reason is because it includes a number of complexities:
- The budget must be prepared according to requirements that differ from call to call
- The budget must comply with Future Worlds Center Budgetary Requirements
- The budget must take into consideration the current occupation of people whose names will appear on the application and their availability of hours in their time sheets
- The budget might continuously change because of changes in the distribution of tasks and/or changes in the consortium or contributions of partners
In order to deal with these complexities Future Worlds Center uses its own spreadsheets especially developed for different types of applications. This means that the budget will have to be moved to the proper forms before the deadline. However, this process is sometimes underestimated. This is why one should invest the time to prepare the actual budget forms even though they might change.
In most calls, the budget might have no or low score. But if wrong the application might be considered ineligible. One might get a grant with a bad budget and the organization will incur financial losses or extreme difficulties in materializing the activities. Even worse, the project might have to be modified in ways that can contradict the contract and lead to project delays and or needs for amendments.
In order to avoid any potential problems, the person in charge of the application process should involve the Financial Officer in the process of budgeting who can provide advise, check the budget and complete the expenditure explanation part of the application. Please note that no budget can be submitted without the prior approval of the Financial Officer.
Person in charge of the management WP
A good application has an excellent management system in place. These processes are to a great extent standardized. On the average about 10% of the score goes here. There is no excuse to loose even one point.
Person in charge of the evaluation WP
A good application has provisions for internal and/or external evaluations. These processes are to a great extent standardized. On the average about 5% of the score goes here, which might make the difference between funded/not-funded. There is no excuse to loose even one point.
Person in charge of the Work program WPs
These processes are to a great extent standardized. On the average about 10% of the score goes here. There is no excuse to loose even one point.
In most calls, up to 20% of the score might come from the methodology and activities parts of the application.
Person in charge of valorization and exploitation WPs
A good application has an excellent valorization and exploitation plan. These processes are to a great extent standardized. On the average about 10-15% of the score goes here. There is no excuse to loose even one point.
Person in charge of reviewing the application
Many applications miss the funding because of 1 or 2 points! There is no greater disappointment. This is why at Future Worlds Center one person needs to have the role of an "outsider" who looks at the application as an evaluator. This person should be given more or less complete drafts.
This person must study and know the evaluation and scoring process and methodology in and out.
Timely planning of logistics
Most applications fail before they are even submitted for three reasons:
- They are never submitted because the applicant misjudges the time required
- The applicant fails to collect the paperwork from the partners
- The application is incomplete and is either not submitted or it is not meet the eligibility criteria