While unrestricted educational grants are a little harder to come by these days than they used to be, they’re still essential to the financial feasibility of many continuing medical education programs. Here are some best practices for landing those grants.
1. Keep the language easy to understand. While the jargon may be so familiar to you that you don’t even recognize it as jargon, those reviewing your grant may live far enough outside the CME world that it might as well be written in Martian. Say what the knowledge gap is that you’re going to address, how you’re going to address it, and why the format you chose is the right one for your educational objectives.
2. Provide a summary up front. A one-page overview of the learning objectives and target audience is a welcome sight to most grant reviewers.
3. Start each proposal from the top. It may be tempting to rehash an existing proposal, but reviewers can tell when you do. And if you don’t care enough to give it your full attention, why should they?
4. Mind the gap. Show how you did your gap analysis, including the literature review and results from other programs that expose gaps in knowledge in your target learner group. While you don’t need to do a huge literature review to prove, for example, that there’s a diabetes epidemic, you do need to collect data about a practice gap from a specific community and propose education that would target those specific local needs.
5. Make sure the learning objectives address the practice gap. While this sounds basic, all too often, they do not, say grant reviewers.
6. Demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Include line items in your proposed budget that lay out exactly what you plan to spend on each aspect of the activity, and be prepared to document how the grant was spent in your reconciliation reports.
7. Make sure the outcomes measurement level you plan to meet matches the identified need, educational design, and learning objectives. While it’s tempting to reach for changes in practice performance or population health, is that goal really reasonable given your activity—especially if it’s a single activity, which is unlikely to change behavior on its own?
8. For a multiple-support program, outline your plan B. If you’re seeking grants from multiple sources, include what your fallback plan will be if not all the anticipated grants come through.
9. Fact check, proofread, then fact check again. Nothing turns off a grant reviewer more than scientific errors, unless it’s a proposal that’s addressed to another company (see number 3).
Sources and recommended reading: