We were involved in assessment of applications for grants in Bosnia and Herzegovina lately and in general applications were of a lower quality than we are used to. Grants were offered for private investments in SMEs and for cooperation among partners (public and private) to develop sectorial approach in certain sectors. Interestingly the quality didn’t vary much from public or private applicants while applications had similar mistakes or weak points.
Applicant needs to present her/his experience and technical expertise for the implementation of project activities planned and needs to be sure to have sufficient management and financial capacity for the project. These are the key of feasibility of the project and assurance to the grantor that you will be able to use funds to achieve planned results. Make it clear and easy to understand and just present what are you doing in your business and list your successes. Don’t think you know everything and that you are the best since if this was true you would not apply for the grant in the first place. Use your knowledge and experience to tell what you know and what you need to become even better.
Relate your project to the grantor’s wishes and objectives since the project will be financed from money that was earned by someone else. And this someone likes to understand how are you helping her/him to achieve goals. Read carefully and understand what is the objective of the grantor and why does she or him wants to spend the money on your project. Be careful it is you who need to understand the idea not the grantor, you are getting the money in the end of the day if you are successful.
Innovation, sustainability, partnership and similar are not just buzz words. The issues here is to understand how is money spent on your project going to help in developing future perspective of the area you live in. Yes, you are right it is not so much about you but about the community you live in and you use resources from. Your project needs to address innovation, climate changes, environmental protection, social inclusion, equal opportunities. They help disseminating benefits of your project to the society and the society need to be better off when giving money to selected person like you and your business. On the other hand all these policies are full of ideas and information necessary to develop your business sin the future and you should understand them and embrace them into your business if you want to stay alive on the long run.
Your action plan needs to be feasible, practical and consistent with your project and its planned results. As all activities in your business that you are running need to be efficient so needs to be the project you are applying for. Be clear what will you do and whit which tools and be clear in how much this will cost. You need to think of activities and their costs as if the money was your and you are doing your own cost benefit analysis in your head on what is cool and what you will not be able to pay and do. Project activities presented need to be specific and detailed and related to project results. And do not forget that you also need to sell products and services you will be developing not just produce them. This is key weakness; applicants only focus to purchase of equipment and its installation but they forget that markets and their demand are usually the key challenge for the business model.
Understand how are you going to measure if the project was successful of a failure. That is usually done with some indicators that need to be easy to understand, they must be calculated with same methods and data every time and they need to be linked to results of your project. As you are keeping the books on costs you also measure your financial balance in the end of the year. And it is just the same with projects; they need to have an opening statement (baseline indicators) and closing balance (achieved-target indicators).
To cut the long story short:
- Don’t be lazy. Respond to all questions asked and answer with your heart and knowledge of your business you are running every day. It is easy to understand the language of projects if you want to. Translate projects language to business processes and you are saved.
- Don’t lie and don’t try to cover up real project intent. You will be caught, assessors are people who know their business and were involved in preparation of projects before, they know what to read and where to find hidden agendas. Lying does not help you and your business and needs to be avoided because of you in the first place.
- Be you, present your business model. Each project is based on a business model which shows to the product and its market. If you do not have one or the other do not apply or even worse rethink your business. Business model need to be clear to you and all partners in the project that is the key for success.
- Be brave and have smart ideas. There are a lot of projects without value or idea, there are a lot of them where the idea is great but its presentation is weak. Be short, clear and do not be afraid presenting smart project ideas and follow them.
The picture in the blog is from http://www.greenbookblog.org/2013/05/07/cheap-fast-and-good/