Erasmus+ is one the largest european funding programmes (around €15 billion) that financially supports transeuropean activities in the area of education, training, youth and sport. However, its success rate is only 18% (check latest annual report of European Commission) which means that not more than one out of five proposals gets funded. This is very frustrating, considering also the resources that are allocated for developing and submitting a proposal under Erasmus+. Therefore, I have developed a Six Steps formula for succeeding in Erasmus+ that is applicable for all three Key Actions of the programme. This formula is based on my professional coaching and training services on making champions in european funding programmes including Erasmus+. This formula is called C.I.R.C.U.S.™ from the ancient greek/latin word that means circle and consists of the following six steps that need to be repeated in every proposal development cycle:
C.I.R.C.U.S. stands for Confirm, Innovate, Read, Connect, Understand and Submit.
Let’s see each one of them in a little bit more detail:
Step 1: Confirm. You need first to confirm that indeed Erasmus+ programme is one of the most suitable programmes for supporting the mission and vision of your organisation and you are eligible to participate. More specifically, you need first to have a clear mission (your current activities) and vision (what you wish to be your activities in the near future) as an organisation and then ensure that this programme can support those two. You also need to confirm that you are able to identify and connect with experts and champions in the programme for receiving feedback about the programme, your idea and your approach. You also need to confirm that mainly the success rate and the number of projects that are expected to get funding in the next call are significant enough for making you feel comfortable with this programme. Finally, you need to confirm that there is time enough available (at least two months) for start working with an Erasmus+ proposal.
Step 2: Innovate based on great ideas. As soon as you have completed step 1 and you are happy with it, then you can continue with step 2 that is to come up with a proposal idea that forms the basis of your suggested project. There are many well established methods on coming up with great ideas such as brainstorming, brainwriting 635 technique, affinity diagrams, project concept development, mindmapping etc. Different people prefer different methods. For example, brainwriting 635 technique may be more suitable for introvert participants. I am planning to write an article on each one of those methodologies of producing ideas but for now you can google for more details on any of the above methods. However, there is one very important point to consider, i.e. Each person that participates in any of those methods should come prepared and aware of the methodology and what is expected as outcome. A pre-fixed time (around 1.5-2 hours) should be respected and you should have a clear method on prioritising the raised ideas so that to come up at the end with 1 or 2 maximum ideas. This idea should be fully aligned with the mission and vision of your organisation as well as with the general Erasmus+ priorities.
Step 3: Read all reference material related to Erasmus+. There are many other documents further to the Erasmus+ Programme Guide that should be read. These additional documents are the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU’s Strategic Framework for Education and Training 2020, as well as the EU Youth Strategy, the Education and Training Monitor, the Youth Monitor and the latest Erasmus+ impact study. In addition, you need to check related projects in Erasmus+ Projects Platform that have been previously funded from the same programme for avoiding re-inventing their wheel as well as understanding in detail the profile (average no. of partners, budget distribution, ambition, etc) of the winning projects. The main outcome of this step is to make sure that your proposal idea fits specific priorities and challenges that are raised from the documentation.
Step 4: Connect with Key stakeholders, experts and funding authorities. This is a very important step for receiving as much feedback as possible in regards to your proposal idea and approach as well as identifying potential competent partners for your proposal. In this step, you should attend infodays (events about the Erasmus+ call) as well as other related events, related virtual groups in linkedin and facebook and make sure that you connect with the key actors. In addition, you should have prepared already the proposal summary based on your idea for allowing the people that you connect with to provide you fruitful feedback. The proposal summary starts with your idea then it identifies related problems and challenges as well as your project solutions/objectives. Based on these solutions, then the proposal summary should outline the expected outcomes, as well as who will benefit from them as well as what kind of competencies/profiles of partners are needed to implementing those outcomes. Such a proposal summary will form the foundation for a great proposal as well as the main tool for attracting competent potential partners as well as engaging the interest via letters of support from key stakeholders from the end-users community that are interested in the project results but are not participating directly in the project.
Step 5: Understand how evaluators think and evaluate. The most important thing to realise is that evaluators are negatively biased against your proposal. Since the average success rate is around 18%, this implies that there are around 82% chances that your proposal is a failed one that doesn’t deserve funding! The brain of the evaluator mainly subconsciously tries to make its tasks as easy as possible and as quickly as possible, especially considering the limited time (around 1.5 hours) that an evaluator has for assessing your proposal . This means that during the evaluation, the expert’s mind tries to find negative points in your proposal.Therefore, your aim is to develop the proposal in such a way so that evaluator(s) will get impressed with the quality and the approach of your proposal content. There are many techniques that I master my students for achieving this. If you wish to access for free my cheat sheet/ebook with tips and examples on how to do that you can signup by clicking the button below and you will get instant access.
Step 6: Submit the proposal. As soon as you have an impressive proposal developed, then you need to submit the proposal online at the latest the morning of the submission deadline and do not leave it for the last moment for avoiding any unpleasant surprises with the submission process. As soon as you have received a confirmation that your proposal is submitted, then send a “thank you” message to all partners (even to the ones that were not that active) for their contribution, tidy up your desk (physical and virtual) and make sure that all the final material and accompanying documents are stored in a separate folder and now you are ready to celebrate! You need to celebrate for two reasons, the first reason is that developing and submitting an Erasmus+ proposal irrespectively of its future outcome, deserves already some celebration. The second reason that is even more important is that by celebrating with your team right after its submission, your mind subconsciously will pump you with energy and motivation for you giving your best the next time that you will develop a proposal under Erasmus+. Remember, that our 6 steps formula is a C.I.R.C.U.S. that you will be repeating in each proposal under Erasmus+ that you are developing.
This is the C.I.R.C.U.S. 6 steps formula™ that champions in ERASMUS+ apply. Simple, isn’t it? Have you applied the C.I.R.C.U.S. formula or something similar? What was the outcome? Please comment below with your views.
Also you need to sign up below for receiving also my cheat sheet/ebook on how to impress the Erasmus+ evaluators in your application form. It will be an eye opener for you.