Six Prep Steps for Writing an OPA Application

And a Free Webinar to Help You Get Started

Approximate Read Time: 6 minutes

Is this you?

You’ve been anxiously awaiting a major funding announcement. You open your email inbox and – Ta Da! – there it is. It doesn’t matter whether it is from a state or federal agency or a private funder.

It. Is. A. BIG. One.

You see it. Your heart begins to race, and your mind begins to whirl with this question:

What do I do now?

We’re here to help with a six-step prep plan. Ready? Let’s go!

1: Take at least three deep breaths

Really. The act of slowing down to breathe deeply and, as a result, increasing the flow of oxygen into your lungs will have a calming and focusing effect on you. If you are feeling so anxious that this doesn’t do the trick, take a walk. Get up, go outside, breathe in some fresh air, and clear your head before you do the next thing on this list.

2: Carefully go through the complete funding announcement

Don’t just read it. Mark it up as you go through it. Whether online or on paper, use a highlighter, take notes in the margins with your comments and questions, and dog-ear or bookmark the pages.

“Okay,” you say. “But what am I looking for?”

  • Key dates and deadlines related to your application. Also look for the timeline you will need to address in your proposal to include planning, implementation, and reporting.
  • The date and time of any technical assistance webinar by OPA to help you understand the announcement. Put it in your calendar and plan to attend.
  • The goal of the funding announcement and how the funder expects you to achieve it. This will give you a sense of the approach (or approaches) you will need to take.
  • The background on the program to learn why the funder is putting the funding forward. Understanding the funder’s rationale can help you respond clearly and directly to the funder’s concerns.
  • Any stated expectations and requirements of the funder. These will tell you what the funder expects you to do if you receive an award. Your proposal needs to explain how you plan to meet these expectations and requirements.
  • Criteria the funder uses to assess applications. Look to see how the funder “weights” each criteria and what that weight is. That will tell you where to focus your attention, even allocate your time, during the grant writing process.
  • Application qualifications, processes, formatting requirements, budgeting parameters, and disqualifiers. You need to be certain your organization is eligible to apply, how you apply, that you understand the format for the application, any budget restrictions, and any misstep or mistake that could result in disqualifying your application.
3: Get organized

Now that you’ve gone through the funding announcement, ask yourself:

  • Who do I need to help me write this application? Realistically, you will not write this application alone, even if you are the lead writer.
  • Who holds the expertise or information you need to write the application? It may be people in your organization, in partner organizations, or even in the community you want to serve.

These people are your team. Remember, your team needs to include an evaluation researcher to help create the evaluation plan for your project. Now, think about what you need from each of them, when you need it, and how to get it from them with minimal stress for both of you.

4: Call your team together and draft the writing plan

Know from the start the plan will likely change before your final submission, but you’ve got to have a plan in mind to start well. Here are several planning questions to guide your team:

  • What is IT (the initiative, program, project, etc.) we want to have funded? What is the need for it, and how do we demonstrate the need?
  • Who will benefit and how will they benefit when the initiative is successful? What is the impact we want it to make? How will we measure results?
  • What will be our approach/approaches? (e.g., Education? Prevention programs? Services? Social media? etc.)
  • Are we resilient enough (do we have enough capacity) to deliver it? Or do we need to partner with others and, if so, who? Do we have sufficient staff who are right for the initiative?
  • What is the realistic minimum budget we need to accomplish it?
5: Get started

After your team has agreed on individual tasks and deadlines, get going. You may find it helpful to set your timeline and deadlines by working backwards from the submission due date.

6: One last tip for now…write with the application reviewer in mind

Remember, reviewers may not know your organization, your project, or even the field or topic of teen pregnancy prevention. They may be unfamiliar with the acronyms you use. They will have to read hundreds of pages of applications, including yours. Be kind to them. Make their experience of reading your application as easy, simple, and complete as possible. This will make it memorable, and they will also remember your kindness.

We can help!

Tenacious Change is here to support you through the grant writing process. When you win the award, we can help you with community engagement, movement making, program sustainability, organizational and program resilience (capacity building), social media planning and evaluation research. To learn more, click on the button below to schedule a complementary call to get to know us and everything we can do to help and support your grant writing now and your funded project.

Free Webinar for Grant writers – OPA Application Writing 101

We are planning a free Zoom webinar to offer some additional ideas for planning and writing your application soon. Learn more details here. If you’d like to receive early notice of when it is happening, tell us how to contact you.

We are Scheduling for 2023Ready to work with us?

Check out our Consultation, Workshop, and Training page on our website where you can learn about our core offerings and services. On the first page of that section, we offer some questions to help you think through what you need and how we can help. We also have an attractive PDF version of this section you can download, print, and share with others on your team or in your organization. 

Now, how can we help you create greater good in your community or organization? Use our Calendly link to set up a time to talk – no cost, no obligation.

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