17 posts categorized "Grantwriting"

Spice It Up!

July 03, 2013

(Allison Shirk is a freelance grantwriter based in the Puget Sound region. In her last article, she shared some tips to help grantwriters build their organizations' capacity.)

Help_keyboardDoes it feel like the grant proposals you're writing are getting old and tired? Maybe you've been working for the same organization for a number of years and writing proposals for the same programs month after month. If you can recite from memory the first three paragraphs of the last grant proposal you wrote, it's time to spice things up! Here are some tips for freshening up your writing and reinvigorating your passion for your organization's mission.

1. Tell a story. Rather than starting with the mission statement or leading with a litany of dry statistics, tell the story of your organization as if it were a novel. Put the funder into the shoes of the clients served by your organization. Show him or her the world through the eyes of the people whose lives are changed. If it's an arts organization, put the funder in the front row as the curtain comes up, the music swells, and the show begins. If it's an environmental organization, make your reader see the colors, hear the sounds, smell the smells of the habitat your organization is committed to protecting. Spark your reader's imagination first, then hit them with facts and figures.

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Managing Up: The Grantwriter’s Dilemma

May 28, 2013

(Allison Shirk is a freelance grantwriter based in the Puget Sound region. In her last post, she wrote about the art of the phone call.)

Managing_upGood grantwriters have a unique perspective with respect to nonprofit organizations: We know what grantmakers want to hear and we know what we'd like to be able to put into grant proposals. But when conspicuous gaps begin to show up in proposals, what should you -- the grantwriter -- do? Here are six elements of a good proposal that often are missing or inadequate, and some resources to help you and your employer/client address the problems they might be hiding.

1. Mission Statement: Does the organization's mission statement cause you to scratch your head? I've seen mission statements that fill an entire page and mission statements that no longer reflect the priorities and/or activities of an organization. Unfortunately, like an old quilt, board members tend to become attached to the mission statement they know, so proceed gently. Here are a few good resources about the art of the mission statement you can share with the board when the time is right: 1) how to create an effective mission statement; 2) the one-sentence mission statement; 3) eight words can be effective, too.

2. Board of Director Affiliations: When funders look at a board roster, they typically are assessing both the size and quality of the board. When they ask for "affiliations," they want to know the name of the company or organization where a board member works, or, if retired, most recently worked. For bonus points, feel free to describe the particular competencies (e.g., financial expertise, knowledge of IT systems, fundraising experience) that individual board members bring to the table. When a board member balks at providing information for this part of the proposal, explain why the funder wants to know and be sure to let the hesitant board member know that personal contact information is not part of the deal.

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Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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