Most important for any grant seeker is the planning that precedes submission of a grant request. It is far more important that a nonprofit have solid, strategic planning behind its proposal than an elegantly prepared application that masks vague goals and no real plan for assessing impact. Foundations care far less about presentation than they do about substance.
Here are some practical steps to follow as you design your project:
Identify the problem.
What is the need you want to address? Find tangible evidence of the need.
Articulate your goal.
What effect do you want to have?
Describe the methods you will use and why you believe they will be successful.
Have they been used successfully somewhere else?
Detail your rationale or theory of change, how you will know if you are successful.
What will you use in terms of benchmarks, indicators, outputs, outcomes, etc.?
Determine how to measure impact.
Will you use data, records, surveys, interviews, focus groups, observation, case studies?
Plan for sustainability.
How will you support this program in the future if it proves effective?
Implement and evaluate your program.
The primary audience for the evaluation is not the funder. It is you. What does your evaluation tell you? How can it help you plan for the future?