Grants allow libraries and their patrons to benefit from extra funds that provide additional services and programs. Preplanning and needs assessments are both important to grant writing because the written narrative and budget will focus on “need” rather than “want.” The grant writer will have to justify need based on some evidence, which may include surveys, interviews, and/or questionnnaires. Once a need has been identified, the grant writer/researcher will then identify sources of possible monies such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Critical to writing any grant is that the need is described and justified based on evidence and each part of the grant supports that need. The grant writer will need to provide information about his or her library such as demographics of the patrons and community, situational circumstances (such as natural disasters), and information about why the current library budget will not cover this request. The grant evaluator needs to understand your mission, why the money is needed, and why they should trust you to use the money efficiently and effectively. Don’t make assumptions–explain and describe in both factual and human terms. For example, many of the libraries in my area suffered great loss during Hurricane Ike, but as I travel about the country, many do not realize the extent of loss that occurred. Do not make assumptions–describe each factor that affects your library funding.
Be specific. In the narrative give details about how the money will be used and be as specific as possible. State the specific objectives and give a step by step account of how each objective will be accomplished. Include who is the audience, the activities they will be engaged in, who is going to do the work and their credentials. Explain any planning or research than may have already been done as well as when and where the project will take place and the duration. Include a description of the impact or outcomes of this project and create a detailed budget that is specific to the costs that will incur by offering the project.
The key concept to writing any grant is to stay focused on the tasks and be as detailed as possible describing what you want to do and how you will do it. There are many online resources that will help get you started: