Types of Project Stakeholders and How to Engage With Them

An important piece of the puzzle to securing support from your community is identifying project stakeholders and determining the appropriate level of involvement. Stakeholders will vary in their power to influence a project, either positively or negatively. Similarly, stakeholders will vary in their interest in the project, from indifferent to committed. Stakeholders will need to be involved differently, based on their relative power and interest.

A simple way to determine a stakeholder’s power and interest is to categorize them within a Power/Interest Grid. Low Power/Low Interest are stakeholders that are likely only indirectly affected by a project. Information needs to be available to them, but active involvement isn’t necessary. Low Power/High Interest are stakeholders who may care deeply about your project’s outcome. As such, they need to be actively informed of your project. Also because of their interest, it is important to show these stakeholders consideration as you move forward.

To contrast, High Power/High Interest stakeholders may not be particularly interested in your project but it is important to keep them actively informed, as they do have power over your project’s success. Similarly, it is important to keep this group of stakeholders satisfied, to the best of your ability, so that they do not use their power to negatively impact your project. Lastly, High Power/High Interest stakeholders are the most important to your project as they have the biggest impact on its success. These are stakeholders that you must engage regularly and work to maintain a positive relationship. They will need to have the opportunity to provide direct input into the project and may be involved in key decision-making.

Take the time to categorize your stakeholders using a Power/Interest Grid. By doing so, you will be able to determine the appropriate level of engagement for each stakeholder. This will allow you to focus your energy and resources more on key stakeholders, while still meeting the needs of the larger group.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

How to Utilize Existing Connections in Your Grant Application

Funders are interested in supporting projects that have the support and participation of the community. The more support that you can demonstrate, the stronger your grant application will be.

It is likely that your organization already has relationships with other organizations that are directly working on the project or have an interest in the project’s outcome. Make the effort to formalize these existing relationships by asking for a letter of support, letter of commitment, or memorandum of understanding. Once the connection is formalized, the documentation can be included to strengthen your application.

Letters of support indicate general support for the project. The author will not play a specific role in the project, but believes a project is worthwhile. High-quality letters of support add valuable depth to your proposal, just allow time for your connection to draft it. Letters of commitment indicate actual investment in a project. These letters express a willingness to commit resources, personnel, facilities, cash or other assets that will help ensure the success of the project. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a formal agreement between two or more parties, but does not contain legally enforceable promises. An MOU typically outlines the goals, expectations and duties involved in a formal partnership.

These types of documentation show formal proof of your connections (with various levels of commitment) and therefore makes your project more likely to be funded. When you are crafting your grant application, you want to identify fundable elements and both incorporate and emphasize them. The more fundable elements in your application, the greater chance of your project securing the funding it needs to be completed, even in the competitive landscape of water infrastructure grants.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

Job Creation: An Important Aspect to Emphasize

It seems like common sense, but a new water infrastructure project will most likely create jobs. But what isn’t always common sense is using that fact to make your project more fundable. Funders are interested in investing their money in ways that create economic opportunities for communities through job creation.

There is always a greater need for infrastructure improvements than there is funding available. In order to improve the “fundability” of your project, it is important to understand the general funding landscape. Specifically, there are general project features, including emphasizing job creation, that get particular attention from funding agencies. The more fundability your project has, the better its chances of securing funding – even in a competitive landscape.

Capital and infrastructure projects can create jobs in the short-term through construction. Some projects can also create long-term jobs through ongoing operations and maintenance. Other projects may also indirectly create jobs in other related sectors. For example, improved infrastructure with greater capacity can attract new business to an area.

Job creation stimulates development or revitalization in a community. Infrastructure projects that have a larger development or revitalization can have a significant positive impact on a local economy. Consider how your proposed project might have a larger, indirect benefit to the community. The more you detail, the clearer the picture for a potential funder.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

Best Practices: Why Are They Worth Pursuing?

Funders are interested in supporting industry accepted best practices for capital infrastructure projects.

  • Technology – Incorporating green technologies or other emerging technologies into your project is easiest done in early phases of the design and construction process. Incorporating these technologies into your project may also be an opportunity to develop a partnership with a research institution, power company, or environmental group, thus boosting your project’s fundability
  • Environmental Stewardship – Capital and infrastructure projects almost always impact the environment in some way. It is worth making the effort to minimize any negative impacts and/or maximize positive impacts to the environment. Environmental stewardship is both the right thing to do and will also increase the fundability of your project. In general, funding agencies want to fund projects that exceed what is minimally required by regulation.

Making your project more appealing to funders does not have to involve dramatic changes. In many cases, highlighting what you are already doing and formalizing existing connections will increase the fundability of a project without much effort. Other elements, such as incorporating industry best practices, can be easily included if you start thinking about increasing your project’s fundability early in the design process. There are many ways in which you can increase the fundability of a project, making it as appealing to funders as possible.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

The Importance of Identifying Project Stakeholders

Depending on the project, the number of stakeholders can be very small, or can include entire geographic areas. The following is a list of examples of possible project stakeholders:

  • Surrounding neighborhood, city or geographic region
  • Governing bodies of tribal groups
  • Funding agencies, creditors or shareholders
  • Nonprofit organizations or environmental groups
  • Prospective customers or users
  • Professional groups, unions or trade groups

Almost universally, funders want to see that your project has stakeholder support. To have a truly competitive project proposal, it is imperative that you identify and involve project stakeholders. Additionally, by involving stakeholders, you are able to get a more varied perspective on your project. This will help you to anticipate potential problems and develop creative ways to address them proactively.

It is natural to be nervous about involving stakeholders in a project. There is often a fear that by bringing more people to the table, the process will become more complicated. However, it is better to think of project stakeholders as potential allies that can help your project to succeed. Through the involvement of stakeholders, you have the opportunity to build your project’s credibility and ultimately strengthen your proposed project.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

Digging Deep into the Required Components of a Grant Application

The first step of creating a grant application plan is to go through the grant guidelines and make a list of every single component that is required for submission.

Budget – The budget is the most important aspect of the application. Most funders have a specific format that they would like applicants to use when presenting budget information. An application may have multiple required budget-related forms. Make sure to list each one separately in your application plan so that nothing gets missed.

Application Narrative – The application narrative consists of several sections, each with its own required information. Take the time to read the narrative instructions carefully, listing every question so that you are better prepared to provide the requested information.

Attachments – Depending on the stage of your project, the required attachments will range from simple contact information forms to time-consuming technical documents. Make sure you understand the nature of each required attachment as you add it to the list of required components.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

How to Draft an Effective Letter of Support

Letters of support are typically very brief, with most being a single page. Make the most of the opportunity by drafting a letter for your supporter to edit and sign. Make sure to provide the following information in the most clear and concise manner possible:

  • Personalization – A personalized letter is more effective than a generic one. Take the time to figure out who to address the letter to, usually the program officer, rather than submitting one, “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Introduction – Introduce the letter writer and their specific connection to the project.
  • Brief project summary – Provide a brief description of the characteristics of the project that are of interest to the supporter. Why is this project important to them? Try to keep it to a sentence or two.
  • Project benefits – Emphasize the benefits of your project
  • Funding priority alignment – Make an explicit connection between your project’s goals and how they align with the funder’s priorities as outlined in the funding guidelines.
  • State of commitment (letters of commitment only) – Letters of commitment have an additional component. Letter of commitment must detail exactly what the supporting entity plans to provide the project. This could be a contribution of cash, in-kind project support, or outline a partnership to complete the proposed scope of work.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

The Most Important Aspect of a Grant Application

What is the most important aspect of a grant application? The budget. Since grant funding is all about money, it should come as no surprise that the single most important aspect of any grant application is the budget. The budget drives nearly every other section of the application. A thoughtful and well-crafted budget is essential to your proposal’s ultimate success and should be the starting point of any grant application.

Reviewers will look at the budget before anything else. A reviewer should be able to understand your entire project just from reading your budget. An incomplete, confusing or overinflated budget can ruin an otherwise quality application.

Taking the time to think through and calculate all of your projected expenses will help to clarify your project’s scope. Determining detailed and accurate cost projections will demonstrate to a potential funder that you have a realistic understanding of your project’s cost.

Budgeting is often seen as a daunting task, but there is no reason to put it off. If you start with the budget, it allows you to craft a better narrative that justifies your request.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

Biden Signs National Defense Authorization Act into Law

President Joe Biden has signed the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act into law, which has allotted $816.7 billion to the Defense Department. This act has authorized $40.4 billion for national security programs in the DOE and $378 million for other defense-related activities.

While this act allocates funds for things such as Navy shipbuilding and pays for Navy aircraft, these funds will also trickle down opportunities for infrastructure to be built to accommodate this new construction.

Military construction will be significantly boosted by this authorization, and subsequently American infrastructure will see similar support. Congratulations to those organizations that can move their projects forward with these new funds.

This information was sourced from www.defense.gov/News/.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.

Highlight What You’re Already Doing: Tips to Increase Your Fundability

Does it feel overwhelming to consider what you need to emphasize in your grant applications? The first thing you need to consider is what your project and organization are already doing that you can highlight for funders. If your project has an element that may appeal to a funder, make that connection explicit in your proposal.

Capital infrastructure projects can create jobs, both short-term and long-term. Furthermore, capital projects are often part of larger development and revitalization efforts. Think about how your project contributes to economic stimulus and then highlight those contributions in your proposal.

Funders are interested in supporting underserved communities, such as tribal, rural, and low-income communities. If your project already directly and obviously serves one of these populations, demonstrating that connection in your application is a straightforward process. If your project is not in an obviously urban area, it is worth checking how the funder defines rural. You may be surprised to find that your project or service area qualifies as rural according to the funder’s guidelines. Finally, if your project does not directly serve a disadvantaged population, consider ways that it may indirectly serve on these populations.

We regularly blast out more in-depth information regarding tips for your application, downloadable resources like this checklist, and grant alerts. Sign up for our email newsletter here.