Grant Writing

Writing grants is an acquired skill. Successfully written grants are a learned art. While numerous foundations provide grant funds to qualified grantors, and government entities announce funding opportunities on a routine basis, the grant application is one of the most important written documents for fundraising.

What skills are needed in order to achieve optimal success in grant writing? Let’s begin with one skill most often overlooked: good interpersonal skills. One communicates well, but one has excellence listening abilities as well. In other words, one listens more than one talks. Why is this important? Quite simply: To write an effective grant means thoroughly understanding the needs of the organization or agency seeking funds and its programs and projects. And this is not done just be reading the materials provided by the requesting organization – it is done through conversation. This is where it all begins: by listening, and then skillfully crafting the funding request into a grant proposal.

Then, one must have research capabilities: and, not just good ones. Grant writing requires excellent research skills. Not only does one need to identify the best funding opportunities, one needs to know the questions to ask in order to conduct such a search in the first place! By way of example: an organization seeks to develop a program that works with at-risk youth in an equine-assisted program that promotes self-worth and self-esteem. Yet, the organization itself is not sure as the way to develop the program, and then identify measurable outcomes. While there are numerous ways to conduct research, one of the most meaningful is to search for those organizations that have similar programs in other parts of the country. Find out what they are doing: Ask questions: How did this particular organization develop the program? What is the target population? What is noteworthy or different about the program that sets it apart? What measurable outcomes were clearly indentified? How did the organization identify its outcomes? Who or what funded the program, initially? What foundations or funding entities financially support the program? Is the program sustainability? How? Why? These questions drive excellent research, and result in a comprehensive grant application that shines above all the others received by the potential funder.

Excellent expository writing skills are essential. Thus, one must be able to compile, write, and edit all grant applications exhibiting a high-level command of grammar and spelling. Further, and equally important, understand both the overall organizational budget, and the budget for the program or project that needs funding. Be able to make sound recommendations to better present the budget (both the overall and the program or project one) to funders. One must develop individual grant proposals in accordance with each funder’s guidelines.

Successful grant writing requires a commitment to excellence. It requires an understanding of the organization’s vision, and its needs. Listen well, research carefully, and write excellently…and always, follow-through to ensure that the entity that provided the funds receives the necessary documents during the course of the grant cycle.

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