Grant writing for Success Kirsten M. Johnson
Experience with Grantwriting • How many people have written… • Fewer than 5 grants • 10 or more grants • More than you can count
Kirsten m. Johnson • 10+ years sharing the stories of nonprofit organizations through communications and fundraising materials. • Writing published in books, magazines and online publications. • Government, corporate, and private foundation proposals. • Program expertise in aging services, youth development, and homeless services.
Session Overview Skills needed to succeed in grantwriting: What we will cover in today’s session: • Writer • Researcher • Relationship Builder • Simplifying the writing process • Successful grant seeking strategies • Research resources • Building relationships
“I hate writing, I love having written.” - Dorothy Parker
If you write grants, you are a writer.
Writing is a three step Process • Planning • Drafting • Editing
Planning • Making the case • What is the problem or need? • Why should someone invest in your work to solve it? • Creating an outline • Main points to make your case • Funder questions, RFP, etc. • Doing your research • Funder Information • Reader Analysis • Program Information
Drafting • Free form writing • Resist the urge to edit • Consider turning off your monitor • Getting your main points down on paper • Editing a draft is far easier than editing a blank page • Stopping to edit at designated points • Decide if you will stop each paragraph, section, etc.
Editing • Polishing what you have written • Take time away from the proposal before you edit • Improving clarity, style, length • Having someone else read your proposal • An editor from outside your program, field, etc. is especially valuable PROOFREADING • Final stage of editing • Spelling • Grammar • Format
“On average today’s readers have an attention span of 15 words per sentence.” - Robert Gunning
Formatting • How you format your • proposal • has a major impact on READABILITY.
Tips for successful formatting • Maximize white space • Paragraphs should be no more than 6 lines long • Create variety through use of different paragraphs, lists, and subheadings • All lists should be in bullet form • “Bullet Sandwich” • Indicate changes in topic with highlighted subheadings • Use a general to specific pattern • Subheadings and introductory sentences • Use tables and graphs
Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Grant Writing
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 1 • Don’t waste your time on proposals to funders that aren’t interested in your work. • Do your research, know a funders interests and if they are a good fit for your organization.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 2 • Don’t create a proposal template and reuse it for every funder. • Do follow the instructions and format your proposal according to the funders outline, questions, or RFP.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 3 • Don’t assume your reviewer knows more (or less) than they do. • Do conduct a simple reader analysis and tailor your proposal to your readers needs.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 4 • Don’t neglect the proposal budget. • Do realize that many reviewers read the budget first – it needs to tell the same story as your proposal.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 5 • Don’t present an overview of the work of your organization. • Do make a compelling case: problem, solution, alignment.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 6 • Don’t turn your proposal in at the last minute. • Do get your proposal in early, using regular mail delivery.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 7 • Don’t spend your whole proposal talking about the problem. • Do provide an overview of the problem, and the outline the specific solution you intend to implement.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 8 • Don’t describe your work only in generalities, use buzz words, or trendy concepts. • Do list concrete, specific outcomes and tie each step of your plan to achieving your goals.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 9 • Don’t try to change your organization to fit a funders guidelines. • Do stick to your mission, be honest, and focus on where your goals genuinely align with a funders.
Top 10 do’s and don’ts of grant writing 10 • Don’t create a document that is packed with data, but ultimately boring to read. • Do paint a picture for your reader by telling the story of your organization and the work you want to do.
“As anyone who has ever painted a room knows, at least 80 percent of the job is in the preparation. The same can be said for grantseeking.” - Cheryl Clarke
Doing your Research • Prospect Research • Community Need • Program Information
Prospect Research • Private Funders • Corporate Funders • Government Funders
Community Need • Federal, State, and County Research • Journal Articles and Conference Presentations • National Organizations, i.e. AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, MetLife • Local and Regional Organizations, i.e. Wilder Research, Aging Services of MN, MAAA • Twin Cities Compass
Program Information • Mission, Vision, Core Programs • Strategic Plan • Business Plan • Program Service Descriptions • Participant Demographics • Program Outcomes
Myth: You have to know someone in order to get funding. Fact: Complete and compelling proposals get funded.
Building Relationships • The real advantage to knowing a funder, is that they know more about your work • Building relationships is a skill all grant writers need
Internal relationships • Executive Director • Accounting Staff • Development Staff • Program Staff • Board Members
Colleague Relationships • Collaborative Partners • Learning Communities • Program Champions
Expert Relationships • Public Sector Employees • Researchers • National and Local Trade Organizations
Funder Relationships • Program Officers • Trustees
Steps to Developing a Relationship with a new Funder • Review existing relationships • Introductory phone call • Ask them for a meeting • Send a letter of inquiry • Call after an award or denial letter • Invite them to special events • Attend conferences, events, etc. where they will be speaking • MCN Philanthropy Leaders Breakfast Series
“Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” - Sholem Asch