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10 Steps to Turn Your Brilliant Idea into a Grant!

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

You’ve got a brilliant idea to make the world a better place. A grant would help you implement it.

Never assume a grantor will share your vision.

Or even understand it.

You have to PROVE it to them!

Here are ten steps to help you focus your idea and start turning it into a winning grant proposal.

What is the PROBLEM you want to fix? Don’t think about the solutions yet - just describe the problem(s).

There are hundreds of women right here in our community who have nowhere to go if they want to leave their abuser. Right now, there is only ONE shelter for women in our community - and that shelter has a capacity of only 20 women and up to 60 children. Their waiting list is usually about three months - but being on a waiting list can be a death sentence for women.

Describe the PEOPLE who have this problem. This is your POPULATION.

Every month, our city police respond to an average of 378 domestic violence calls. Many of the calls are for households that have had repeated interventions by law enforcement. When the officers ask the women if they would like to leave, they often say no because they have nowhere to go.

How do you KNOW these people have this problem? This is your EVIDENCE.

Research indicates that, in the United States, about four percent of households are violent. With 147,940 households in our community, we can assume nearly 6,000 households are violently abusive.

Each year, our police respond to more than 4,000 domestic calls. The district attorney’s office typically files 866 domestic violence cases per year and the court system grants more than 11,000 protective orders. Last year, 8 women were killed by their intimate partner in our community.

Despite these statistics, our community only has ONE shelter for women and their children. With a waiting list of three months, there are hundreds of women today who are trapped with their abuser or are forced into homelessness.

What do you think might fix the problem? This is your INTERVENTION.

Nationally, about 75% of women who enter a domestic violence shelter program will return to their abuser. Research shows that they return for many reasons, including: lack of income; no housing to move into; fear of losing custody of children; and a belief that “nothing can be done.”

However, programs that provide wrap-around services and case management for up to 36 months have been shown to be effective - with only 15% of participating women returning to their abuser.

What will fix the problem? This is your ACTIVITY.

In 2004, Austin, TX began a pilot program to create a pathway to independence for women. This proposed program will use that model. Women and their children can have emergency shelter for up to six weeks, with access to case management, legal assistance, therapeutic counseling services, educational assistance, and career advising. Upon intake, women and children will be assessed for their needs. These wrap-around services will continue after they leave the shelter for up to a total of 36 months. Women can either move into a transitional living home for up to 24 months, or transition directly into permanent housing.

Step 6: What resources will you need? This includes people, supplies, equipment, training, travel, technology, consultants, buildings, communications, etc.) This is how you will eventually get your BUDGET.

We’ve identified an available building that would be ideal for the shelter and headquarters for the organization. The cost to purchase, renovate and furnish the facility will be $1,500,000. We plan to hire a staff of 12, which will include two therapists, four case managers, four FTE security officers, the executive director, a staff attorney, and a facilities manager. Our annual salary expenses, including fringe and taxes, is estimated at $560,000. We will contract out for accounting and fundraising services, which is estimated to cost $70,000 annually. Additional expenses for the shelter and program will require $270,000 for supplies, security systems, etc. The shelter will have room for 45 women and their children at any given time. The transitional center will accommodate up to 23 families. Support for permanently housed families will accommodate up to 200 families.

How will you determine that your idea has made a difference? This is your EVALUATION OF OUTCOMES.

This project is expected to serve up to 240 families the first year.

85% of all families will remain in the shelter program or transition to safe, permanent housing for at least four weeks.

100% of all families will receive an assessment of their needs.

Within one week of moving in, at least 50% of women will report that they feel safe and hopeful about their future. After six weeks, at least 75% will report this.

12 months after successfully completing the program, at least 80% of women will remain in a safe, permanent housing situation.

What qualifies YOU to take on this project?

We are a team of three professionals - two licensed therapists and one attorney. Coimbined, we have 86 years of experience in the domestic violence arena.

We also have a volunteer board of 12 people who all passionately support this concept.

To date, we and the board have raised nearly $1 million in funds for this project.

How can the program be SUSTAINED over time? Where will funding come from?

Women who are living in the shelter or transitional living program will have to pay a program fee equal to one-third of their current income. This income is expected to provide 25% of our total annual budget.

Medicaid and private insurance will be billed for therapy, which will provide another 10% of our budget.

The remaining funds will need to come from donations, grants, and government contracts. Our board members are committed to raising these funds through personal requests, events and grant seeking.

What is the TIMEFRAME for this project?

Once we have the money to purchase the building, we will need nine months to remodel, create connections to partner agencies, hire and train needed staff, and otherwise be ready to begin accepting women and children into the program.


You still have some work to do to write a complete grant proposal, but these steps will help you build the foundation of a winning proposal.

Now go start using your words to change the world!

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