All the programming work we perform under the grants we've received from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is open source, but we also try to be as transparent as possible about our process.
The Knight folks have encouraged us to share all of our grant documents "from soup to nuts" in the interest of transparency and sharing. We hope these help you understand the process of applying for a grant or in making your own grant project more successful.
So, what kinds of applications and documents go into getting, managing and completing a grant? Actually, quite a lot. Here is a summary:
The Preliminary Proposal - First, we contacted the Knight Foundation staff with our idea and after a series of discussions, we submitted a preliminary proposal summarizing our intent.
The Full Application Proposal - Then, we were invited to submit a full application proposal. This level of details requires deeper planning and effort.
Then, the Knight team does their work, creating a Presidential Writeup for internal review.
If the grant is approved, a grant agreement between the foundation and the fiscal sponsor or recipient nonprofit is executed.
A contract agreement is also executed between the fiscal sponsor and the contracting agent, in this case, NewsCloud's founder, Jeff Reifman.
The fiscal sponsor and the grant agent set up a budget spreadsheet which mirrors the chart of sub-accounts from the budget in the full proposal. This is updated periodically if changes need to be made (significant changes require approval of the foundation) - see final adjusted budget.
We choose to issue biweekly status updates via email to our foundation contacts, our team and other stakeholders. Here is an example status report from February 27, 2009. These reports are not required by the foundation but help us organize our work, get help with risk areas and open issues, highlight our achievements and keep everyone on the team plugged in.
We published Dr. Greenhow's social media research to our blog as she completed each report. The Hot Dish summary is an excellent read on what we learned about youth, journalism and in social networks. We also were invited by Nieman Reports to submit an article about our grant for their Journalism and Social Media issue. Grist's summary article on the Hot Dish contest is also worth reading.
At the end of the grant, we issue a report back to the foundation showing our achievements (and shortcomings). This is the final report, it is a time for gathering feedback from our team, reflection and learning.