Help with writing a grant proposal

1. How do I get started? 

Get started by talking with us

You can email our Grants Manager, Chelsea Párraga, at giving@ardc.net to set up a time to talk about your project before you apply. Our staff can give you advice on if we think a proposal for your project is likely to be successful before you begin your written application.

Tips for grant writing

When you submit an application, ARDC’s Grants Advisory Committee evaluates your proposal to determine if it’s likely to succeed, and if it aligns with our grantmaking goals.. When you are answering our application questions, keep in mind the “what, who, and why” to help us understand what you want to do.

  • Why do you want to do this project? Don’t forget to take a few sentences to say what the impact of your project is and why you want to do it. Will your project make your community safer by improving emergency communications? Will it lead to cool new open source software?
  • What will you do if you get grant funds from ARDC? Try to share your plans in as concrete and specific terms as you can. “We will teach three classes about satellites and amateur radio at Colorado High School” is more specific than “we will help kids learn about amateur radio.”
  • Who will carry out your project? Most commonly, when applicants make a mistake with this, they don’t say who will do the work. In your proposal, please share who will carry out major aspects of the project, and tell us about they skills they have to do the work. For example, “four licensed club members will lead the classes” or “Jackson Chilliams, an Electrical Engineer with 10 years of experience, will help two club members construct a new antenna for the ABC Amateur Radio Club.” If your project is in the “Technical Innovation” category, it can help to spend some extra time explaining the backgrounds and qualifications of the people working on the project.

If it’s your first time writing a grant, this video on how to write a proposal may help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V0tYq3nCm8 Please disregard the recommended page lengths and sections mentioned in this video under “what goes in a grant proposal.” Instead, focus on answering the questions on our online application. You can make your answers as long or short as you need to fully explain your project idea. You can also skip listening to the information in this video after 21:45 when the video pivots to talk about how to become a professional grant writer.

2. Help with Budgets

Tips for Creating a Budget

  • If this is your first time creating a budget, you can watch this video for help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8EC2QwuBOk
  • Your budget proposal is a “best guess” at what you will need to carry out the project. It’s okay if the price of coax changes slightly or if you decide to buy a different piece of equipment later on. For now, be as specific as you can be.
  • Search online for the prices of the supplies you will need. It’s okay to group small things together like “building supplies (screws, paint, tape, etc.) $200” instead of itemizing every small thing. When you do that, giving a few examples of what is included in that category can be helpful. At the same time, avoid grouping major expenses like “New Ham Shack $30,000” since this doesn’t give us a good idea of if the budgeted amount ($30,000) is a realistic cost. Separate costs for materials, labor, and any other fees that might be included (such as permitting).
  • If you’re asking for radio equipment, list out specifically what you want to buy.
  • You can submit your budget in any format that you like, though spreadsheets are preferred.

What should a budget include?

Your budget should include:

  • Personnel. time and benefits for individuals working on the grant funded project (unless everyone is a volunteer.) Estimate the percentage of time that a person will work on this project and include that percentage of their salaries and benefits. Do NOT include 100% of salaries if a person is working on more than just this grant funded project.
  • Supplies and equipment. that you will need for the project (Don’t forget about shipping costs, taxes, and any fees. It’s okay to round up slightly to give yourself room for these costs.)
  • Travel. costs that are directly related to the project
  • Marketing. costs that are directly related to the project (For example, if you want to print flyers or purchase social media ads to advertise a class)
  • Other. costs you have directly related to your project
  • Up to 20% for indirect costs. this includes things like phone, internet, rent, accountants, software, bank fees, HR, lawyers, small supplies, contingency for unexpected project costs, and anything else that can be hard to itemize out. You can use these funds for any additional overhead costs your organization has.
    • Universities and large organizations with higher indirect cost rates, we ask that you please cost-share any indirect amount over 20% to allow us to maximize the funds we can distribute to others.
  • Any revenue – are other donors supporting this project? Do you have money set aside for this project already? It’s okay if we’re the only funder, but it can be a bonus to know if other funders or people in your community are willing to invest in your project, especially if it’s a big one.

Your budget should not include:

  • Funds for lobbying. Advocacy work is okay, but trying to specifically influence elected officials to vote in a particular way is something we can’t legally fund. You can read up on details here.

3. I would like additional help with my proposal

If you would like help with developing your proposal, you can email us at giving@ardc.net, and we can assign you a staff person or volunteer who can help you write your proposal and/or put together your budget.

If you’ve got a proposal started, we can review drafts and provide you with edits and suggestions.

4. Help! I would like technical advice on how to design a project.

ARDC has a host of experts and technically talented volunteers who can help you decide what equipment to buy, help you design your project, or who can troubleshoot project ideas with you. Email us at giving@ardc.net to let us know you’d like technical assistance. Please include a little bit about your project and the type of help you need.

5. Examples of successful proposals

  • Support and Growth of Amateur Radio (University of Arizona, Digital Mode and Long-Term Equipment Investments Proposal / Budget)
  • Education (Museum of Science and Technology, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station Proposal / Budget)
  • Technical Innovation (The Oregon HamWAN Backbone Project 2021 Proposal / Budget)