Grant writing 102
Last month, "Grant Writing 101" listed resources recommended for learning grant writing basics. This month, we look at specific tips and words of wisdom from successful grant writers.
"1. It is their money, therefore you must follow their rules (AKA follow the directions given). 2. Ask questions of (or have conversations with) the grants officer. (Always ask to have a score sheet, if possible.) 3. Be a reviewer. You make fewer mistakes and you remember who your target audience is. At the state, community, or federal level—all are helpful. 4. Use charts, graphs, tables, and pictures. Your reviewer might not know where XYZ County in A State is—show them with a map. 5. Tell a good story. Make your need compelling. For example most grants want to know about the diverse population. Well, Jasper County, Iowa, is 99.7% white, but we sure have a high number of individuals over age 65—16% of the county, compared to 14.9% for Iowa, compared to 12% nationally. We have an above average median income, but we are a manufacturing community and those jobs are going away—quickly. If your population isn't what they are looking for, tell them what they should be looking at in your community."Lisa Skaggs, Newton/Jasper RSVP
"Train yourself to clearly and thoroughly answer the questions presented. ... the best resource is a potential funder's own guidelines. It never ceases to amaze me how many grant writers do not answer the questions asked or provide the information requested. A literal reading and interpretation of grant guidelines is one of the most important practical measures you can take to help your request get noticed (and funded, hopefully)." Alan J. Lipsky, R & L Consulting
"When you are turned down for a proposal maintain sincerity and interest by a thank-you letter." Anonymous Participant
"No matter how picture perfect or word perfect the proposal is, it is still the funder's choice if they will fund the organization." Stephanie Malcom, Grant-It Consulting
"I read requests for Grants daily and prefer concise, to the point requests. I value any statistics or comments on the success of programs especially if this is featured in the form of articles in periodicals. Strive to appreciate the time of the person or persons reading the request. Concise, to the point requests without a lot of 'flowery' prose about the topic show professionalism and respect for the grantmaker's time." Anonymous Participant
Karen Dutro and Suzanne E. Coffman, April 2006
© 2006, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)
Karen Dutro is a nonprofit associate with GuideStar. Before joining GuideStar, she worked as director of development for Military Ministry in Hampton, Virginia, and William Byrd Community House in Richmond, Virginia.
Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's director of communications and editor of the Newsletter