7 Expert Grant-Writing Practices

May 3, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

Practice makes almost perfect, and that includes practice for grant writing.

At the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference, Jill Dotts of the American Heart Association offered the seven areas of expert practice for writing grant proposals. And they are:

* Winning before writing: Giving patterns, do the grantor and applicant align? Is the applicant “invited” or “barging in”? What is the organization’s reputation? Who are the decision-makers? How do they know the organization?

* Technical requirements: Application guidelines and instructions. Attachments. Packaging. Understanding due dates and timing.

* Human behavior in the grant process: Who screens, how does the process work? Is likability a differentiator? Trustees, influencers and other VIPs.

* Engaging and guiding the reader: The goal is for the reader to read, understand and advocate for the proposal. The first sentence and paragraph say a lot.

* The “Speed Proposal”: Where do experienced (or stressed-for-time) grant reviewers skip ahead to? Where is a great place to tell a story? Where can the writer demonstrate a well-thought plan, management capacity, sustainability and collaboration?

* Engaging the internal team: Fundraising as everyone’s job? Well, kind of. A team needs a leader. Roles and responsibilities.

* Management considerations: Staff vs. contracted. Writer only vs. “Foundation Relations.” Characteristics of successful grant writers. What productivity looks like.