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Tips for Writing an LSTA Grant Proposal

  1. Carefully review the current Library Services and Technology Act Grant Program general information and grant application information for how you need to prepare your grant proposal. Proposals are reviewed based on how well they meet the program criteria and follow the instructions in the Grant Program information.
  2. Make sure that your library is eligible to apply for and receive LSTA funding. Eligibility criteria are listed in the current grant program general information.
  3. Design the proposal to make the most important points early, then make it compelling with supporting arguments. Catch the reader's attention early and keep it. Answer the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? In addition, consider: we do what?; for whom?; to what end? or for what purpose?
  4. Use percentages rather than just numbers for justification, and use comparative data when available. Statistics alone are not very useful, but are appropriate if used effectively. Describe the impact if the project is not funded.
  5. Write the proposal with the grant reviewers in mind. Remember that they have many proposals to read. Help them to understand your project. Do not make them search for misplaced information. For the proposal section of the application, address all the topics in the order listed. Do not leave unanswered questions in the mind of the reader.
  6. Keep your language factual, concise, and clear. Write in the active voice. Make sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Do not try to say several things at once. Present only one point per paragraph. Be wary of jargon, acronyms, abbreviations and vague references. Do not be repetitive. Clarity and readability are key.
  7. Be sure to use measurable outcome in your activities and evaluation. Stress the impact on participants or patrons. LSTA funds are intended to improve services to patrons so that matters in the proposal review. Explain how the described need is being met. Describe how meeting that need can change participants' outlooks or experiences. Emphasize the use of Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE).
  8. Include all partner activities in the activities, timeline and budget.
  9. Address all facets of the project in the timeline, including evaluation and promotion.
  10. Everything listed in the budget should be addressed in the proposal. Make sure your budgets add up correctly and that the summary matches the amount you are requesting on the first page of the proposal. Make sure you request everything you need in the budget, as purchases not listed in the budget may not be reimbursable.
  11. Discuss how the project will be continued. Letters of commitment for future funding or participation can be helpful.
  12. Put items such as job descriptions, references, extensive statistics, etc. in an appendix. Do not let them interrupt the succinct flow of your arguments. Instead, reference them in your text with an appendix letter.
  13. Consider the reviewers when writing text sections. Proofread and check spelling and grammar! Make sure someone uninvolved with your project can understand the proposal.
  14. Follow the Library of Michigan requested file naming for any documents you submit.
  15. You MUST confirm submission of materials. The Library of Michigan will not contact potential applicants to confirm if materials are being sent.

Updated 01/21/2020