Alberta Ecotrust’s Tips for a Successful Energy Efficiency Education Grant Application

Communities are not just the places in which we live. Communities are also the groups of people that we gather with to share interests, passions, or purpose. Alberta Ecotrust is excited to be collaborating with Energy Efficiency Alberta and supporting diverse communities in Alberta to engage in energy efficient actions in the places they work, live and play.

Founded in 1991, Alberta Ecotrust is a unique partnership between corporations and environmental nonprofits. For 27 years we have provided critical funds to community organizations taking action on environmental issues. Today, Alberta Ecotrust’s role as an environmental convener is to foster authentic relationships within and across sectors and boundaries, creating space to share knowledge and identify common goals. More and more, we look at the environment through an inclusive community lens.

The Energy Efficiency Education Grant Program provides funding to organizations to help Albertans build awareness, skills and capacity to take action on energy efficiency and renewable energy. This is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to leverage education related to enhancing energy efficiency and build capacity in communities to deliver GHG reductions.

Thinking of applying? Good ideas don’t often materialize on paper with ease. Especially when dealing with complex problems. Unfortunately, putting this into a proposal – or someone else’s application – can be a challenge. Here are a few of our best tips we’ve picked up over our years of grantmaking:

  1. Understand the program criteria and grantmaker objectives: Consult the scoring rubric and the program guidelines! Super tip: Have a colleague or peer review your proposal and then score it using the rubric.
  2. Do the legwork before you start writing: Application forms often lead to proposal writing in piecemeal form, which can make applications seem disjointed or unclear. Super tip: Use a logic model or theory of change to organize your thinking, clarify assumptions, and link activities to outcomes.
  3. Clarity of purpose: Good proposals contain a well-defined problem and pathway towards a solution. This is where your logic model comes in. The biggest challenge in effective grant-writing is clearly describing your project. We all carry our own assumptions and what may be clear to us can be foreign to another person. Super tip: Have someone who is unfamiliar with the project read your proposal to see if they understand it.
  4. Clarity in communication: You don’t have to be Hemingway to write a good proposal, but writing in an easy to read manner with an appropriate tone can make a world of difference to a person reviewing your proposal. Overly technical jargon, grammar and spelling mistakes, and long/complex sentences can cause frustration for reviewers. Super tip: Use the Hemingway app to make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand.

Remember, grantmakers want to fund the best project. Clarity in purpose is essential. You can be a very good technical writer and still not communicate why your project is important. Similarly, a very good project may get lost in poor language and grammar. Combining clarity in purpose and communication is the best way to get your proposal to the top of a list.

Finally, if the grantmaker is accessible, talk to them as much as possible. Through our partnership, Alberta Ecotrust will deliver application coaching to all applicants. If applying, you should contact Alberta Ecotrust prior to submitting an application. We can provide you with feedback on your idea, and review your proposal before you formally submit it to Energy Efficiency Alberta.

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Photo: Courtesy of the Alberta Green Economy Network’s Sun-In-A-Box workshop in the summer of 2018.

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Alberta Ecotrust is guided by a vision of healthy ecosystems for all Albertans. Our mission is to inspire and mobilize those who champion and protect the environment.

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