Important Advice For New Grant Writers pt. 1

What is the single most important advice you would share with someone new to grant writing?

Sara Farina

It’s very basic, but it’s also a very common mistake- a grant writer MUST read and follow the guidelines in the NOFA/RFP/Applicant Instructions/etc. – what is required, what is optional, funding priorities, even margins and fonts.

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Branwen Cale

 

Managing and understanding the process is just as important as the writing!

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Michele Boyer

Sara’s advice is absolutely essential. The first thing reviewers do is look for any breach in their guidelines, and cull down the number of proposals they need to review.

The rationale is that if you cannot follow clear instructions, should they trust you to conduct your programs in line with their mission and goals? They have many applicants to choose from and would do best to choose those who are meticulous in following guidelines.

Once you have accomplished that, my advice is to organize your entire funding plan strategically. Know who you will submit to, when and for what. Make sure you schedule your proposals to be sent well in advance of the deadline. Delays can, AND DO, pop up unexpectedly and if you are too close to the deadline, your proposal may not be completed, sent or received before the deadline.

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Julie Marino

Also remember that quality of writing is only one of a number of factors that affect the success or failure of a grant proposal, unless of course the writing is really bad.

It could be that there are lots of similar competing proposals. It could be that the amount of available funding is down — we’ve all experienced that over the last couple of years.

It could simply be that the board member or peer reviewer is having a bad day. Just because you’ve written a really compelling proposal, that doesn’t automatically mean your client will get funded.

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Michele Boyer

Learn how to prepare budgets. Breaking out income and expenses per the funder’s guidelines can be time-consuming and cause one of those unexpected delays.

Begin work on the budget early in the process in case your organization accounting categories are grouped differently than how the funder requests them to be presented/broken down.

And develop a good rapport with your accounting department so they can help you quickly and efficiently.

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Susan Frierson

1. Follow the funder’s directions EXACTLY.

2. Use the funder’s language in the proposal. If you have science “kits” and the RFP is looking to fund the development of science “pods”….call them PODS!

3. Clearly outline your program’s objectives, the activities you will conduct that address each objective…and how you will evaluate the results, relative to each objective.

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Joseph Mayerhoff

Similar to what what Susan said, your proposal should track the RFP closely.

Don’t put your proposal in a format that covers all the bases in the way the works best for you – do it in the way that works best for the funder.

So when the funder looks for criteria a,b and c as listed in the RFP, they find it in front of them without having to search through your entire proposal to find the part they are looking for.

Remember, many funders have different people reviewing different parts of the application so if you don’t give it to them in the order they ask for it, they may never find it. Stick to the script!

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Kris Butler

I think the most important thing is to contact the place who is offering the grant and gather information about the grant itself and why they are offering it, establish a relationship and learn about the organization that is offering the grant. If you can find out who will be deciding the grant and pick their brain as well. Information gathering is very important and I have found can save me from wasting my time on grants that are not a good fit for my application.

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Are you interested in learning more about becoming a grant writer? Take a Quick Self-Test now to see if this is right for you or see a short video description of our Grant Writing Online Course.

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