Educational Grants: What to Consider Before You Hit 'Submit'

By Pam Beaton, CHCP FACEHP; Amy Edouard (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center); Amanda Glazar, PhD CHCP; and Gail Radecki, CHCP

In August, the CE Provider/Supporter Interactions SIG introduced a new article series centered on adding value to The Insider’s Guide to Medical Education Grants by providing a nuts-and-bolts approach to various aspects of the grant process. In this, the second article in the series, we discuss grant development and submission. What follows are some good practices and points for consideration that we hope will be useful as a quick guide for anyone responsible for developing and submitting grants for their organization or institution. After you read this article, we encourage you to take time to reflect on your current process and identify opportunities for improvement.

Grant Development

Good Practices

  • Review your activity design for the following:
    • specific practice gaps
    • supportive needs assessment
    • engaging learning formats
    • objectives that will help you achieve the intended outcomes
  • Research priority areas of commercial supporters and look to see if they have specific guidance on grants (either through RFPs or a guide).
  • Recognize the need for scalability and parameters when considering partial support, in the event you do not receive full funding.

Points for Consideration

  • Quantity does not equal quality - Consider creating a shorter needs summary that highlights the key practice gaps and educational needs, supported by evidence.
  • Reputation does not trump planning and design - Showcase your strategy and design and not just your accomplishments.
  • Play to your strengths (and weaknesses) - Give your needs assessment depth by referencing multiple sources, when possible.
  • Substance matters - Show you’ve done your homework by citing substantive data from reputable sources.
  • Format, format, format - Your design should be engaging and appropriate to the content, with consideration given to learner preferences.
  • Something old, something new… - Whenever possible, avoid using the exact same agenda you submitted in previous years.
  • KISS (Keep it simple, silly) - Review your activity to be sure you aren’t trying to cover too much —no one expects you to address every single need and gap in one activity.

Grant Submission

Good Practices

  • Read the grant instructions thoroughly, both before you start the process and again just before submission, so you understand what’s required and ensure you are addressing things appropriately.
  • Register as a user for each grant application system you’ll be using (or make sure someone in your organization is).
  • Re-read, proofread and edit your submission before sending, and have others look at it, too.

Points for Consideration

  • Preparation - To avoid a piecemeal approach to your submission, consider pulling together all documents in advance for easy access.
  • Relevance - Proofread your application carefully before submitting to ensure your submission aligns with each supporter’s area of interest, especially if you utilize a template approach.
  • Accessibility - Whenever possible, upload supporting documents as separate items to make it easier for the supporter to locate specific information during their review.

Overall Tips

  • When the grant developer(s)/submitter(s) are not the activity planners, they should engage with the planner(s) as early as possible in the planning process to facilitate better alignment between learner needs and supporter expectations.
  • If it works for you, try to set aside uninterrupted time to complete applications so you don’t lose track of where you are in the process.
  • While they must not participate in the planning, development and implementation of your educational activity, keep in mind that many supporters are still interested in education that incorporates sound instructional design principles and consider this when making funding decisions.

Please share your feedback with us! We want to know if this was helpful or if you need any other information in preparing and submitting grants. Please send your questions, tips and tricks, best practices, points for consideration or comments by responding to this brief survey. We will recap any feedback we receive at the end of the series.

This article was reviewed by Stephen Moss, BA CHCP (American College of Phlebology) and Chris Presta (American Academy of Dermatology).

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