Confessions Of Embarrassed Grant Writers

Sometimes grant writers feel embarrassed. I know because I’ve been there myself. It might be as simple as feeling ashamed that you don’t know as much about the grant writing process as you think you should and you’re tentative to ask any questions. It could also be that you don’t know where to look to find funding opportunities and it feels like you are the only one who “doesn’t have a clue.”

In life, when one feels embarrassed about something, it can translate into a feeling of loneliness, or thinking that no one else could possibly understand what they are going though. It’s not much fun, and it certainly isn’t a feeling we want anyone to experience, but it is a reality for some of us.

Over the years, GrantsEdge has spoken to many grant writers, and in doing so, we have listened to the frustrations, pain-points, and challenges, and know that far too many have areas of their grant writing life that they are embarrassed to admit.

You Don’t Have To Feel Alone In Your Grant Writing Embarrassment

Our hope is that by sharing a few of the general ways grant writers have expressed embarrassment, you will realize that the things you are afraid to admit are normal and you won’t have to feel alone. It may even give you the freedom to ask the questions you need to ask or seek the support you need to be a great grant writer.

3 Main Themes

As we have spoken to and built relationships with grant writers, there have been three main themes that have surfaced when it comes to what grant writers are embarrassed to admit. You’ll notice we’ve kept this all anonymous to protect the embarrassed.

Embarrassment Theme #1 – “I Just Can’t Find The Time”

On the surface, this idea of time doesn’t seem like it should be embarrassing at all. Why would someone be embarrassed because they are busy? The reality is that many grant writers do have full-time roles within their organization, and the writing of proposals happens off the side of their desk. This can be incredibly difficult when the tyranny of the urgent is constantly staring you in the face. The grant writing often gets left until the last minute, which is an issue.

What grant writers have also told us, and have struggled to admit, is that too often they just leave the grant writing until the last minute, even when they don’t have to, and the effectiveness of their proposal suffers because of it.

We have heard grant writers tell us they have abandoned half-written grant requests because they ran out of time. And many have admitted the whole grant writing process takes much longer than they ever thought it would and they are frustrated they can’t complete a final draft of a proposal in a shorter time frame.

How To Get Over This Embarrassment:

It is certainly not our place to tell anyone how they should feel, but we do have some solutions to the time concern.

1. Build a plan – We talk and write a lot about building a work plan, and setting up a schedule at the front end of writing your proposal so you can stay focused and on track for completing your proposal on time. We can’t stress enough the value and importance of planning. We live by that, and can only run our business with planning as a core value and expectation.

2. Gather your documents – In a previous blog post, we also wrote about the idea of keeping a number of documents prepared and ready to go in one central place. Most grant applications ask for similar pieces of information, so by having documentation and information organized and easily accessible, grant writers can save an incredible amount of time. Read more about “Effortless Ways To Save Time In The Grant Writing Process.” At the end, you’ll be able to download a checklist of the documents you’ll need for almost every grant application.

Don’t be embarrassed about your lack of time. Do everything you can to put a plan in place so it’s no longer a concern.

Embarrassment Theme #2 – “I Lack Experience And Knowledge”

There are employees throughout the non-profit sector who are being asked to write grants, but who just don’t have the experience. In a recent training session we facilitated, there were 40 grant writers. Of those 40 grant writers, approximately 85% would have identified themselves as new or inexperienced in grant writing. Many organizations struggle to find the right staff or volunteers to write proposals, and if the main grant writer leaves or is not available to provide support, the task can fall on new and very inexperienced grant writers.

Here are just a few of the comments we hear from grant writers all the time:

“I have not yet completed a grant proposal on my own and the whole idea seems a bit overwhelming.”

“I lack experience and feel like there are so many things I just don’t know.”

“I’ve just never felt comfortable writing grants. I think it is because I don’t do it often enough and have never had any real training.”

“I know some of my colleagues have experience, which means they would be a great resource, but I’m embarrassed to ask them for help.”

These can be really hard things to say out loud if you are the one in the midst of it.

How To Get Over This Embarrassment:

The simple answer for how one might move past the embarrassment of the lack of experience in grant writing is to get some experience. Obviously, that is easier said than done.

1. Access free resources – We are here to help grant writers gain confidence and knowledge in the area of grant writing. Leverage the many other blog posts, tools, and resources we offer. Follow us on Facebook (@GrantsEdge) and Twitter (@GrantsEdge) to find even more information. The internet is full of opportunities to gather information. Plan to regularly schedule time to read, listen to podcasts, or engage in online conversations that will help teach you new ideas all the time.

2. Ask for help – People generally love to share their knowledge and will be open and willing to answer your questions and provide guidance. Go to people you respect and trust with very specific questions. Ask them how they learned and find out what other resources you should access. If you don’t have anyone in your own agency to provide support, look to others in the industry. Seek out some organizations that have demonstrated the ability to obtain grant funding and see if they might be willing to share some secrets and advice.

3. Get some training – Watch for opportunities in your community to attend workshops, seminars, and webinars. We offer an in-depth training course called GrantsEdge Live that will walk you through the formula for writing successful grants.

4. Seek feedback – As you do begin to write more and more, be sure to ask for insight from others. Ask funders to give you feedback, as they have years of experience in reviewing grant proposals.  Connect with successful grant writers and ask if they would edit or review a proposal. We also invite you to connect with a GrantsEdge Coach, a service we offer that provides you with access to a former funder who will review your proposal before you submit it and connect with you one-on-one to provide feedback.

It may take some time to get past this embarrassment, but by being proactive in your pursuit of information and knowledge, and with a few grant proposals under your belt, you’ll be feeling more and more confident.

Embarrassment Theme #3 – “I’m Afraid Of Rejection”

I remember very vividly a conversation with an Executive Director. He described the embarrassment and shame he felt going into a Board meeting knowing he would have to tell them the large grant proposal they were counting on had been declined. That would not be a fun Board meeting to attend. It is pretty deflating, and can feel like a very personal hit to the ego when our proposals are rejected. It’s especially difficult because so much time and energy has gone into the process, and we know our team, our organization, and our clients are depending on us to be successful.

You are not alone in feeling this way, and the reality is you won’t be alone in having a grant proposal rejected either. It is a competitive market, and even the best-written proposals and most innovative, important programs don’t get a “yes” every time.

How To Get Over This Embarrassment:

A great way to start getting past this hurdle is to understand that very few, if any, grant writers will ever be 100% successful. So what can you do?

1. Make sure your program is a fit – One of the biggest reasons grant proposals get rejected is because they don’t fit with the objectives of the funder. Make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the program or project you are going to propose is a match with the goals and purpose of the funding organization. This will save you a lot of grief.

2. Connect with funders regularly – We are a huge proponent of building long-term connections with funders. While this is no guarantee, having a relationship with a funding organization can certainly increase your odds of being successful. The more a funder understands your organization, how it works, what it has accomplished, and how the community will benefit, the more likely they will be to have confidence in your ability to be effective stewards of their investment. You can begin the relationship building part of grant writing right away.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – While this might not take the sting of rejection away completely, it should alleviate some of the angst that can emerge when funding becomes scarce. While diversifying funding streams is a challenge for even the most successfully run organization, having alternative plans and other funding options available is a must.

4. Find out if you can re-submit – In some cases, an initial “no” from a funder does not mean “no” forever. Although rejection may change your plans in the short-term, many funders are open to having an organization re-submit a proposal. Find out more about what you need to consider when re-submitting an application by reading, “3 Vital Steps You Must Take Before Resubmitting A Grant Proposal.”

Do You Have Anything You’d Like To Admit?

Can you resonate with any of the embarrassments of others? Hopefully this was somewhat therapeutic for you to begin to understand that other grant writers struggle with time, a lack of confidence, a lack of experience and knowledge, and fight a fear of rejection. It’s normal, but it doesn’t have to remain a point of embarrassment.

Join us in the journey to make grant writing suck a whole lot less. Read and use our resources, message us on Facebook to Twitter and ask us your questions, or join us in training opportunities. Let us play a role in supporting you as you become a confident and successful grant writer.

One Easy Step To Finding New Funding Opportunities

Grant writers tell us all the time that one of their biggest frustrations is the difficulty they have in tracking down new funding opportunities for their organization… especially funding programs that are a fit for their specific project. We understand this is a big challenge, and want to provide you with an idea that absolutely any grant writer can begin to implement as part of his or her regular routine.

There Are Thousands Of Funding Opportunities For Grant Writers

Before we unveil an easy step you can implement to begin to uncover new funding opportunities, it is important to know that, in Canada, there are an incredible number of funding programs that exist. Even with a lot of opportunity available, it will take some work, some research, and some perseverance to track down the right opportunities for you and your organization, but they are there.

Here is a glimpse at the current granting environment in Canada:

  • 10,000 foundations, with more than 700 new foundations registered each year;
  • 680 corporate foundations; and
  • 550 Federal and Provincial Government programs.

That is a lot of funders to explore, and the opportunities continue to grow each year. We show you these numbers to give you some hope and encourage you not to give up in your quest to find the funds you need to do the great work you need to do in your community.

There Is An Important Untapped Resource

GrantsEdge has the privilege of conducting grant writing training throughout Ontario, and during those workshops and seminars, we like to take a few minutes and have the grant writers participate in a short exercise. With blank pieces of paper in front of them, we ask them to write the following three headings: Foundations, Corporations, and Government. From there, we give them five minutes to populate their page with all the funders they know under those three categories.

YOU TRY IT: Take five minutes right now, before you continue reading, to see how many funders you can get on the page under each of those categories.

How did you do? In most of our sessions, we find that, on average, grant writers are able to list five to seven specific funds or funders. Of course, we sometimes have an expert in the room who can rattle off 20 or 30 funds, and that’s awesome, but for many, their actual understanding of the funders that exist is somewhat limited.

Through the exercise, we have also begun to understand that the funders that grant writers do know typically fall within the Government or Foundations categories. It is the corporations that have funding opportunities that most don’t know much about.

It’s time to begin to explore and pursue those corporate opportunities as you build your grant writing calendars.

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

We have titled this blog post, “One Easy Step To Finding New Funding Opportunities,” and the exciting thing to understand is that you can implement this step within the regular routine of your life.

For many of us, after a busy week of work, running kids to programs each evening, and volunteering at our local organizations, we save at least a part of Saturday for running our errands, completing the items on our to-do list, and spending time with family and friends. Here is a typical Saturday (sometimes Sunday) for me and my family.

  • I wake up early on Saturday morning and get groceries at Loblaws before it gets too busy.
  • On my way home, I fill up my car with gas at Petro-Canada.
  • After putting the groceries away, we go to Hudson’s Bay so I can buy a new shirt for a dinner we are going to later that night.
  • While at the mall, I stop by Bell to ask a few questions about my cell phone.
  • Later that night, we end up at The Keg for dinner with friends.
  • Before I go to bed on Saturday night, I send an email to The Co-Operators, my insurance company, to let them know my son will no longer be on our auto insurance policy.

It’s been a full day of getting jobs done and having some fun along the way. But, in the midst of my busy Saturday, I have come across at least six corporations that offer various funding programs to groups and organizations within their community.

What Plans Do You Have This Weekend?

There are funding opportunities around us and available to us each day. Of course, not every one of these corporations are going to be a fit for the program or project you are looking to run, but you don’t need them all to be a fit. You may only need one or two to provide you with funding you need to do the work you want to accomplish.

Begin To Add Corporations To Your List

If you are looking to expand your funding opportunities, exploring the funding programs and sponsorships that Corporations offer is an easy step to incorporate, and an action you can assimilate into the routine and rhythm of your life.

We would like to get you started with a list of a few corporate funders that you can add to your list today.

Provide your name and email address and get a list of 10 corporate funders that offer non-profits and charities different funding programs. It’s FREE and your email address is safe with us (we won’t be giving it away to anyone).

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8 Great Ways To Thank A Funder

You’ve been awarded funding following the review of your latest grant proposal. You can now move forward with an innovative program that will significantly impact your clients, and you want to say thank you to your funder. How do you do it? Do you have one go-to style or way to thank a funder? What if the funder doesn’t want to be recognized? In this week’s blog post, I want to provide you with some tried and true methods of saying thank you, as well as some more innovative ways to recognize the funders who provide you with the financial support you need to do your great work.

We Need To Thank Our Funders

From the time a child is able to talk, most parents work really hard to teach them how to say thank you. Just the other night, my three-year-old granddaughter, unprompted, said, “Thank you for my Shopkins” (those with little kids will understand), and it made me want to buy her all kinds of stuff she doesn’t need. It felt so genuine.

Saying thank you is polite, shows respect, acknowledges gratefulness, and, although it can make the recipient blush sometimes, it often makes the one being thanked feel really good. Funders are no different, and we need to make sure we go out of our way to sincerely thank them for the investment they have made into our organization.

Some Funders Don’t Want To Be Recognized

There are some funders who would rather stay under the radar and don’t want their name or logo flashed all over your website or social media pages. You will want to adhere to their wishes. I encourage you to have a conversation with them or read through their website and any grant proposal guidelines or instructions to see if they specifically mention how they do or don’t want to be recognized.

For the majority of funders out there, saying thank you and being recognized is absolutely fine. In fact, it’s a critical part of the process. Finding genuine and creative ways to say thank you is important as you continue to build a relationship, credibility, and trust with your funder.

So, What Are The 8 Great Ways To Thank A Funder?

Saying thank you can come in all shapes and sizes. Recognizing your funder also doesn’t have to happen only at the beginning of a project – it can be said in different ways and multiple times throughout the course of your relationship.

With that in mind, here are eight methods you can use to thank and recognize a funder , in no particular order.

  • Thank You #1 – Letter Or Card

    Let’s get the easiest and most used method of thanking someone out on the table early. Many people appreciate and even crave words of affirmation. Putting your heartfelt thanks in a card or letter is always a great way to make sure a funder knows you appreciate the investment they have made. I would encourage you to write a card or letter once you have received word of your award, and then would also plan to do something more as you move through the project or come to the end. A card thanking the funder, signed by a number of participants in your program, is one great way to let the funder know their support has made a difference.

    Many grant writers or organizations will want to send an email as a thank you. While there is nothing wrong with that at all, my feeling is that a letter or card that is hand written and mailed is a gesture that most don’t use in 2017. When a funder receives something in the mail, it feels very intentional and special.

  • Thank You #2 – Social Media

    Thanking your funder on social media is also an effective approach. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn might be typical places where you can recognize a funder. You might take and post a picture of staff, or write a short note of appreciation that you post for all to see.

    An important piece to remember is that many funders also have social media platforms they use, so it is important to remember to include their address or “handle” in your post. For example, if you wanted to get our attention on Twitter, you might start your tweet with “@GrantsEdge,” so we will be notified and know you have recognized us or included us in your post. This is also a great way to have more people see your post, as the funder may decide to respond or retweet, which then brings your message to the attention of their followers as well.

  • Thank You #3 – Video

    Saying thank you through video is one of my favourite ways to recognize and let a funder know their financial investment is making a difference. A video will take more time and effort, but can be an effective tool. Most people love watching short videos, and it won’t be something funders receive very often.

    Be sure to keep your video short and concise so it doesn’t take a significant investment of time on your part to produce, but also know that videos any longer than two minutes, unless overly compelling, can begin to feel long.

    I came across a great example of the Nature Conservancy saying thank you to their funders through a video. Here is the YouTube link if you’d like to check it out.

  • Thank You #4 – Phone Calls

    Picking up the phone and speaking with someone seems like a bit of a lost art. A verbal thank you allows for the opportunity to more fully express your gratitude, as the funder will have the chance to hear your tone and expression. Also, because a phone conversation allows for two-way communication, it can provide the opportunity to further the relationship you have with your funder.

    If your funder appreciates phone calls, you may want to even consider a phone update to provide a few details about milestones achieved or outcomes reached. A phone update lets a funder know you are serious about the investment they have made in your project and that you want them to be involved. That is a great way to say thank you.

  • Thank You #5 – Personal Invitation

    One of the best ways for a funder to really understand you, your organization, your participants, and the project or program is to see it and experience it first hand. If you have the opportunity to invite your funder for a short visit, that can provide a great opportunity to say thank you.

    Take them on a tour, invite them to a grand opening, ribbon cutting, or holiday open house, and let them sit in on your program as it runs so they have the chance to meet the people from your community and more completely understand the service that is being offered to support them.

    If a funder does join you, be sure to prepare your staff and participants in advance so they can be ready to share their own personal thank you.

  • Thank You #6 – Annual Report

    Many organizations produce an annual report to highlight the activities and accomplishments of the past year. This report can be an ideal place to say thank you to a funder and to acknowledge their support. You may choose to write a short article or update on the project they funded so all of your stakeholders understand their involvement.

    If you decide to use the annual report as a way to say thank you, be sure to obtain the most up-to-date branding requirements of the funding organization to be sure you are using the right logo, printing the full and correct name of the organization, and using the appropriate colours.

    Be sure to send the funder a copy so they can see the end product.

  • Thank You #7 – Website

    If your organization has one, you may choose to recognize a funder directly on your website. You might include them on a “partners” page, on a page related specifically to the program they are supporting, or on a page that highlights news and events.

    Again, be sure you know their branding requirements to make sure you have represented them appropriately.

  • Thank You #8 – Impact Report

    Many funders will require a final report to be written at the conclusion of the funding timeframe to provide an update on the overall impact of the project. As part of the report, find a way to thank them for the difference their financial support has made on your organization.

    If you are not required to complete a final report, I encourage you to provide them with one anyway. It doesn’t have to be long, but can be used to outline the overall impact of the project by providing both quantitative and qualitative data and may also highlight the next steps that will be taken to move the program or project ahead.

A Few Final Thoughts About Saying Thank You

Saying thank you to your funder is the right thing to do. Without their investment, your organization would not be able to accomplish some of its goals. Finding intentional and creative ways to recognize them and show your gratefulness will go a long way in solidifying your relationship.

Take multiple opportunities to say thanks, be genuine in the way you express it, and be incredibly thoughtful. I always encourage my kids to put themselves in the shoes of other people in their lives so they have a greater understanding, feeling, and perspective for their situation. I would encourage you to do the same with your funder. As you look for ways to say thank you, be sure to understand the role they play, their goals and objectives as an organization, and the fact that they are human and will respond positively to many of the same things you do.

Have you thanked a funder recently? Do you need a different strategy for recognizing funders? Don’t wait. Choose one of these eight ideas, or come up with one of your own, and start recognizing funders for the amazing work they are doing in partnering with you to make a difference.

5 Grant Writing Tips To Make A Funder Giggle… In A Good Way

You might be thinking that GrantsEdge writes a lot about what grant writers need to consider as it relates to funders. Well, you’re right, we do. The reality is that we do it very intentionally because it’s with funders where your grant proposals either die on the review table or live to bring financial support to innovative and impactful projects and worthy participants through the work of your organization.

Are You Ready For Some More Grant Writing Advice From Funders?

Just a couple of weeks ago we gave you some insight on a recent conversation we had with funders in our blog, “Get In On The Secret: What Funders Want Grant Writers To Know.” If you haven’t read it already, you may want to either read it now, before you really dive into this blog, or you may want to read it as soon as you are done here so that you can gain even more perspective on what funders want grant writers to know…and more importantly, what they want you to do.

As we prepared and developed an outline for the blog this week, we realized how much more insight we had from funders that we needed to share. So here are five more grant writing tips we have learned from funders that, if implemented, will make them super happy.

What Are The Five Grant Writing Tips?

There’s so much more to writing a successful grant than the actual writing. Managing the overall process of a grant application as well as being intentional about the way you establish relationships with funders and community partnerships can dramatically alter the fate of your proposals.

Tip #1 – Be An Awesome Partner

Funders like to invest their resources in programming or projects that have well thought out partnerships. Funders are looking to avoid the duplication of services that can take place in communities and know that when organizations work together effectively, amazing work can get done. Funders know that most programs can accomplish more with greater community involvement.

If you are not the one in your organization to spearhead collaborative relationships with other agencies or partners, take some time now to meet with representatives of your leadership team to explain to them the importance of collaboration in grant writing.

Underline the fact that the more that can be done to build relationships and establish strong working partnerships before a proposal is written, the more influential that part of a grant application will be when viewed through the eyes of a review committee.

Tip #2 – Ask Questions That Haven’t Already Been Answered

We’ve talked in multiple blogs about the value of building relationships with your funding partners. Part of building trust and credibility comes through in the questions that you ask. When you are connecting with funders and gathering information about an upcoming application, be sure to do your homework first. Asking questions that can be easily understood by referring to a website or reading page two of the application guidelines is a sure way of frustrating your funder. Use your questions to dig a little deeper and to get some perspective from funders that you may not understand after having read through the application instructions.

Look at these two questions and think about which one might provide you with more helpful information:

  1. Can you explain what the term “collaborative partnerships” means to you?
  2. Can you provide an example of how an organization that you invested in within the past few years implemented an effective collaborative partnership that was able to positively impact a project or program?

It may well be that you need to understand more completely what the funder means by “collaborative partnerships”, it’s not a bad question in and of itself, so ask away. But if you are going to connect with a funder, don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking, and certainly don’t ask questions that you can easily find answers to yourself.

An Egyptian novelist, Naguib Mahfoz once said, “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Your questions will make an impression with your funder, so be sure they are thoughtful and valuable.

Tip #3 – Make Reasonable Funding Requests

At GrantsEdge we hear numerous anecdotes from funders, that provide us with ammunition for our blogs and stories for our training events. This next story is one that is difficult to imagine, but does a great job at demonstrating just how unreasonable some grant writers can be as they develop their proposals.

A funder we know once told us that they received a hand-written application requesting $1 million dollars. That alone should raise some eyebrows. But the other interesting part of the story is that the organization making this significant request had an operating budget the year before that totaled $5,000.

Without the entire context of the story, and without giving the grant writer (we don’t actually know who they are) a chance to defend him or herself, this seems to be an example of a grant writer/organization that hasn’t necessarily considered the perspective of a funder.

Funders want to have confidence that an organization can be an effective steward of the money they have invested. The organization making the million-dollar request may well be able to effectively manage that kind of budget, but the funder told us this story because based on all the information they had, nothing about the proposal was reasonable.

Funders are excited to give money to all kinds of organizations, whether they are grass roots operating on streamlined budgets, or whether they are large non-profits with multi-million dollar budgets…and anything in between. But, when making your funding request, be realistic with the approach to your ask. Put yourself in a funder’s position and understand their perspective before crafting your proposal.

And, in case you weren’t sure, please don’t hand write your proposal.

Tip #4 – Keep The Funder Updated

There are times when significant changes happen within your organization after you have completed the original submission of an application but before a final determination is made. In those circumstances, it is important to communicate with the funder to provide them with new information. Examples might include (but are not limited to) a change at the Executive Director level or a revision to program outcomes. Another scenario that needs to be considered is when an organization has received funding for the project from another source. New information about the budget might change the actual amount now needed to run the project, or might encourage the funder with the fact that a solid financial foundation is in place to effectively move a project forward successfully. Any kind of adjustment in the financial information related to your request may further encourage a funder to invest and may bring an increased sense of confidence in the project.

If changes occur and you are not sure if you should connect with a funder, then connect. It would be better to have that conversation in advance, knowing that there is nothing that could sabotage or create issues in the future.

Tip #5 – Know How To Tell Time

If, at GrantsEdge, we had a nickel for every time a grant writer was feeling stressed about meeting a proposal deadline…well, you know how that saying goes…we’d probably have a lot of money. We know grant writing can be a challenge in regards to the time it takes to complete a quality proposal. We know that deadlines often seem tight and that application submission dates always seem to fall at the worst possible times. But, as a grant writer, you need to know (if you don’t already) that funders don’t like it when you send a proposal in past the deadline, and in many cases they can’t do anything about the fact that it was late.

We can’t stress enough the idea that you can’t be even one second past the funder’s deadline. In many cases now, an online proposal won’t be accepted or can’t even physically be sent once the time has passed. But, even if a funder was gracious enough to accept your proposal, what kind of impression do you think submitting a late application really makes? Fair or not, your tardiness brings into question your organization’s ability to follow direction, implement a work plan, or manage time in general. A late proposal may suggest that your funder was not a priority and that you are not ready to receive their money.

We can’t stress enough the importance of building a work plan that allows you to submit a proposal a few days before the deadline. Think of the stress you will avoid, and imagine the smile on the face of your funder when they see that an organization has worked diligently to complete a proposal before the deadline. That sounds like a win, win situation.

What Do You Need To Do To Make Your Funder Smile?

We think reflection and evaluation is important. Ask yourself and your grant writing team to think about these five tips to gain an understanding for whether or not you currently make funders happy with the way you write grants. Is there anything you can do differently? Is there anything you need to begin to plan for now that can put your grant writing processes in a much better place? Are there partnerships you need to initiate? Are there questions you need to be asking?

The next time you talk to a funder, take a few minutes to ask them what makes them happy, or what grant writers do to frustrate them, and don’t be shocked when some of the tips mentioned in this blog (and some of our other blogs) are at the forefront of their mind. We want you to write successful grants, and these ideas are another small piece of the puzzle that will keep you moving in the right direction.

Get In On The Secret: What Funders Want Grant Writers To Know

Connecting and talking with funders is something we try and do as often as we can. We know that every conversation will turn into an opportunity to gather valuable grant writing tips and helpful information that we can pass along to all of you.

This past week was no different. We had the opportunity to sit around a boardroom table with seven funders, from a variety of government and community funding organizations, to “pick their brain” about what successful grant writers consistently implement and execute to ensure the best proposals get submitted.

Writing Effective And Successful Grants Isn’t As Hard As You Might Think

After years of writing grants and getting to know funders, we find it interesting that not much has changed in what it takes to submit a successful proposal.

Yes, grant applications look different and have moved online, and there has been a shift in funding priorities that now seeks greater collaboration, innovation, evaluation, and overall impact of a program or project, but what funders talk about as it relates to what makes grant writers successful remains strikingly familiar and within reach for anyone trusted with the task of securing funds for their organization.

It’s Time To Get Back To Grant Writing Basics

Part of our role at GrantsEdge is to share information directly from funders, and to ensure that grant writers have everything they need to write successful grants. So, no matter how long you have been writing grants, whether it’s been five years or five days, we encourage you to take out your pen, or get you keyboard ready to take a few notes.

The following five ideas may not be new for many of you, but the funders we spoke with reminded us that grant writers continue to make the same mistakes and fail to recognize the importance of some of these foundational elements. It’s time to reflect on your own grant writing, be honest with yourself, and make sure you’re doing everything funders tell us that successful grant writers do each time they submit a new proposal.

5 Foundational Ideas You Need To Implement To Be Successful

The following five ideas are not listed in a priority sequence. They are all equally important, and the funders were uniformly passionate about the relevance of each and the emphasis one should place on all of these concepts.

1. Successful Grant Writers Understand Funding Guidelines

Each and every funding opportunity comes with a set of guidelines and expectations. Successful grant writers take the time to read the guidelines, understand the funder’s priorities, and take note of the application instructions. Once they’ve read through the guidelines once, they do it again, with a highlighter in hand, keeping track of any questions they might have to ask.

It is within this part of the process that a grant writer will determine whether their program or project is a strong fit with the funder’s overall objectives, while also gaining awareness for any boundaries or restrictions related to receiving funding.

Why is this so important?

Funders often receive applications that don’t comply with their instructions or requirements. Some grant writers think their proposal will be so compelling that funders might overlook their guidelines to fund a project that falls outside their core purpose. They won’t, they can’t – trust us on this.

Not fully understanding the guidelines of a funder is a quick and easy way to waste your time and ensure an unsuccessful result.

2. Successful Grant Writers Talk To Funders Before They Write

We know that not all funders make themselves available to grant writers, but many are very open and willing to connect. Long before you even begin to type your first word in the grant proposal, funders want you to understand how important and valuable it is to reach out and begin to build a relationship. Funders appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions, clarify information, understand your program more closely, and provide insight that can guide your writing.

Why Is This So Important?

Funders want organizations to be successful in their grant writing. Funders want to join organizations in bringing significant impact to communities. They want to find credible partners who can be effective stewards of the money they have to invest. One of the best ways to accomplish all of these things is by working in partnership to bring a successful proposal together. Effectively and regularly communicating with a funder can be one of the best ways to increase your chances of success.

In an GrantsEdge blog from October of 2016, we wrote about how to have successful meetings with funders. In, “A Halloween Story: Turn Meetings With Funders From Scary To Successful,” we outline three ideas you should consider to ensure a meeting with a funder goes well. Read this blog to gain some helpful ideas and resources that will make talking to funders easy. Inside the blog you’ll have access to a FREE template that will outline how to write an effective concept paper.

In another GrantsEdge Blog from September of 2016 we write about “The #1 Step You Must Take To Improve Your Grant Writing.” In this blog we also write about the how important it is to meet and build relationships with funders. Inside the blog you will have access to a FREE email template that you can use to reach out and schedule meetings with funders.

Take advantage of these FREE resources and make connecting with funders a huge priority.

3. Successful Grant Writers Know Their Audience

Do you actually know who will be reading your proposal? Are the reviewers a group of staff members from the funder’s office, a small group of community members, or a combination of staff and volunteers? Successful grant writers take the time to find out who will be reviewing their proposal and what is most important to that specific group. Will the reviewers be motivated by logic or emotion? Will the reviewers be most engaged by story or data, or both? In the end, it may be a combination of all of the above, but without asking any questions and attempting to understand the reader, your proposal may come up incredibly short.

Successful grant writers focus their proposal on what is important to the funder, not on what the writer necessarily thinks is important. Reading the guidelines and talking to a funder (see points 1 and 2 above) can provide the insight needed to engage your audience effectively and realize a successful proposal.

Why Is This So Important?

With tens and potentially even hundreds of proposals to read, a review committee is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the best projects to fund. If your proposal is written in a way that does not resonate well with the review team, it can be quickly moved to the bottom of a very large pile. Be very clear in your writing so that your audience knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are understood, that you have their priorities and objectives in mind, and that your project is worth the investment.

4. Successful Grant Writers Submit Mistake Free Proposals

Just like the clothes you wear can leave a certain impression with the people that see you, so too can a mistake and error-filled grant proposal influence the perception funders have of you and your organization. We are amazed at how often funders receive proposals with multiple spelling and grammar mistakes and budgets with numbers that don’t add up properly. Successful grant writers ensure a rigorous editing, review, and revision process is followed. Successful grant writers invite fresh eyes and outside perspectives to read their proposals and provide feedback. Successful grant writers put a process in place to ensure that each application is completed with excellence in mind.

Why Is This So Important?

Funders are seeking credible and professional organizations within which to invest their dollars and maximize impact. By submitting proposals filled with errors, funders may be left wondering if the organization has what it takes to successfully organize, operate, and manage a project. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of life, but a sloppy grant proposal is not the way to build trust with a funder. Don’t have your proposal moved to the “no” pile because the time wasn’t taken or the process wasn’t implemented to review the document before sending.

Added bonus: If you use the cut and paste method in the development of a grant proposal, be sure to watch for words, titles, or names of organizations that are specific to one proposal and not relevant for another. A funder can be quickly frustrated by a proposal that has a different funders name mentioned within it. Imagine being called by someone else’s name…it doesn’t feel very good, and certainly makes you think the other person either doesn’t care or lacks attention to detail.

5. Successful Grant Writers Write Like They’ve Never Been Funded Before

Grant writers, especially ones who have some experience, have been successful in the past, or do grant writing for large organizations that have historically gained funding, can begin to believe that they don’t have to work very hard on their proposals because funding is a foregone conclusion. This is not universal, of course, but it is easy for grant writers to get somewhat complacent and just routinely “pump out” proposal after proposal without truly thinking about what funders need or want.

Funders have been very clear that times are changing. Grant writers can no longer expect to get funded just because they have in the past. Organizations can no longer assume money will be awarded to them because they have a large program that has been run for years. Funders are more focused than ever on the impact of a program and the difference it truly makes. Grant writers will need to be very intentional about demonstrating the need for their program and the change the community will experience because of the program. Funders want you to write with urgency, and passion, and like the success and health of your community depends on every word and every number you include in your proposal.

Why Is This So Important?

It’s a new day for funders. The status quo for proposals will no longer be good enough. More organizations are asking for more money, and the competition for funding dollars continues to rise. To gain funding for your organization, don’t write your proposal as though it is going to get funded no matter what. Find some new and creative ways to tell your story and to share you message. Make sure funders understand the value and importance of the work you are doing. Do everything you can to make it impossible for them to say no.

So Now What?

Is it time for some reflection? Is it time to implement some new ideas or tactics into your grant writing processes? Based on what our funders have told us, are you a successful grant writer?

Although these ideas are somewhat basic in nature, our funders couldn’t express passionately enough how important these five components are to being successful as a grant writer. Don’t assume you are doing it right. Take some time to evaluate and look for ways to improve. Take the opportunity to gain some feedback from funders on proposals that weren’t successful so that you can find out if you dropped the ball in one or more of these areas. And the next time you are getting ready to write a proposal, have this list close by to ensure you give yourself every opportunity to experience success.

  1. Understand The Guidelines
  2. Talk To Funders Before You Write
  3. Know Your Audience
  4. Submit Mistake Free Proposals
  5. Write Like You’ve Never Been Funded Before

Effortless Ways To Save Time In The Grant Writing Process

When we asked grant writers to share their biggest grant writing challenges with us, many of them gave the same response: time.

We know that writing grants is one of the many things you do. It’s usually captured in the “other duties as assigned” line in your job description. Which means that writing grants becomes one of many competing priorities. It can often feel like there is not enough time to write a grant, never mind write it well.

5 Time Saving Tips

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many grant writers struggle with finding enough time to write grants.

Below are five tips to help you limit the amount of time you will need to spend on the grant writing process. While not all of these tips will save you time directly, they will make the writing process much easier. And when writing is easier, you save time.

#1 Create A Work Plan… And Stick To It

Work backwards from the deadline outlined in your grant calendar and determine how much time you have before you need to submit. Plan out the time required to review, edit, and revise before submission. When you know how much time you have left to write the proposal, break it down into sections. Decide when you will write section 1, section 2, etc. The idea here is to plan everything out in advance so you know exactly when you need to have each section completed.

This tip will save you time in the sense that creating a plan for your writing will keep you on track and keep that proposal from eating up too much of your time.

#2 Plan Out What You’re Going To Write

As you review the questions asked in the grant application, think about how you will answer these questions. Don’t start writing anything yet, but feel free to make some point form notes. In addition, make a list of any questions you may have that must be answered before you can begin to write.

If possible, set up a meeting with the funder. We’ve written before about how important it is and how valuable it can be to meet with the funder before you begin to write your proposal.

Take this meeting as an opportunity to learn if what you want to write about is what they’re looking for and have any of your questions answered. With this knowledge in mind, you should have exactly what you need to complete each section of the proposal.

#3 Gather Your Documents In Advance

There are a number of pieces of information every funder will ask for in a proposal. Rather than wasting time searching again and again for this material, or re-writing already existing content, keep a folder on your computer of all the information funders regularly ask for.

First of all, having this information readily available in one location will save you from figuring out where to get the information you need or having to ask others to get it for you. Second, while you wouldn’t want to recycle an entire proposal completely, reusing those pieces that never or rarely change will keep you from having to re-write content that doesn’t need to be re-written.

Curious about what those pieces of information every funder asks for are? Download our checklist here.

#4 Keep A Notebook For Ideas

I’ve read that many authors keep a notebook strictly for ideas for the book they’re currently working on and separate notebooks for ideas for other books. When they’re out and about and something pops into their minds, they write it down. The same is useful for a grant writer.

Keep a notebook on you at all times for ideas you could incorporate into your proposals. When a co-worker cites an alarming statistic that your program is aiming to address, write it down. When a participant of your program approaches you and tells you how the program has impacted their life, write it down. When your program receives an award or some other recognition for your work, write it down. You may not use every idea, but collecting them will help you tell your story to the funder.

#5 Know What You Need To Do To Write Well

I know I do my best writing in the mornings, in un-interrupted silence. I used to listen to soft, instrumental music while I wrote, but have learned that doesn’t work best for me anymore.

Figure out what you need to do your best writing and do it. Communicate it to others. Tell your co-workers you are going to be writing and that you can’t be interrupted for the next few hours. Find a place that inspires you and makes you feel creative. Pour a cup of tea. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you are focused and are able to produce your best work. By creating an environment where you can concentrate, you can ensure you spend more time writing and less time responding to distractions.

Start Implementing These Tips Today

We know grant writing can be difficult, but we’re here to help make it a little easier. Start implementing these tips today to set yourself up for success the next time you’re preparing to write a grant. Spending less time writing grants means spending more time doing the other work you really love to do!

Common Documents Checklist

Don’t forget to download our checklist of documents every funder wants to see in your submission. Keeping these documents in one easy to access location will save you a ton of time in your grant writing process.

Provide your name and email below to download the checklist. It’s FREE and your email is safe with us.

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3 Myths About Applying To Family Foundations

In one of our very first blog posts, “The 3 Types Of Funders To Approach For Your Next Project,” we identified private foundations as one of three types of funders. As a type of private foundation, family foundations are very common, but often not very well known. And while there are thousands of family foundations across Canada, it seems like grant writers are sometimes hesitant to apply to them for funding, or are unsure of how to do so. There are a few myths surrounding family foundations and believing these myths means missing out on incredible funding opportunities.

Here’s What You Need To Know About Family Foundations

Family foundations don’t need to be so mysterious. By reading and understanding these three myths and their corresponding truths, you can feel more confident applying to family foundations for funding and increase your chances of funding success.

Family Foundation Myth #1

Family Foundations Already Know Who They Want To Fund

Some grant writers believe that because family foundations already know which organizations and projects they want to fund, there is no point in applying for their grants. Family foundations can sometimes feed this myth by stating that they “do not accept unsolicited requests,” essentially meaning that if they want to fund you, they will come to you. The truth is, they do this because they’re often small and do not have the capacity to handle the hundreds or thousands of applications that other types of funders receive.

While it is true that family foundations often have organizations or causes that are close to their hearts, just because you’re not one of them, doesn’t mean you’re out of the running completely. It doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in you. It just means you need a different strategy.

If the family foundation has explicitly said they do not accept unsolicited requests, don’t submit a proposal or letter of inquiry, as you might do with another type of funder. Instead, try to build a relationship first. Your organization’s board members might be great for this. Who do they know that is connected to that foundation? They may be opposed to formal applications, but they may be open to informal conversations. Provide the foundation’s members with opportunities to get involved with your organization and learn more about your programs and projects through events, volunteering, or a tour of your facilities.

Family Foundation Myth #2

Family Foundations Don’t Have A Lot Of Funding To Offer

Another myth keeping grant writers from applying to family foundations is the belief that family foundations only have enough money to award small grants, which are not worth the time or energy to apply. The truth is, family foundations come in all shapes and sizes, by which I mean that family foundations are all unique in the amount of funding they provide, depending on their history, their goals, and the contributions of their members. There are some family foundations that offer a large number of small grants and some family foundations that offer a small number of large grants.

For example, the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation provides a small number of small grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 each year. On the other hand, the J.W. McConnell Foundation does not typically award small grants, only larger grants, which are often given over a two or three year period. It all depends on what the foundation’s interests are.

Family Foundation Myth #3

Family Foundations Only Support Local Organizations

A third myth keeping grant writers from applying to family foundations for funding is the belief that family foundations only fund organizations in their region. This is not always true. Community foundations only support local organizations. Family foundations are able to fund wherever they want.

While it is true that family foundations are often interested in and dedicated to supporting organizations where their family members were born and raised, this does not mean these communities are the only places where they fund. Do some research on which organizations the foundation has funded in the past and the amount they have given in the past. This will give you an idea for who and how much they might fund in the future.

As with Myth #1, just because your organization isn’t located in the same community, doesn’t mean you can’t receive funding too. It just means you will need to develop a new strategy.

Want To Learn About More Grant Writing Myths?

At GrantsEdge, we love busting myths that keep grant writers from being truly successful in their fundraising endeavors. To learn about more grant writing myths that could be holding you back, check out our blog post, “3 Grant Writing Myths That Are Limiting Your Success.”

3 Vital Steps You Must Take Before Resubmitting A Grant Proposal

You’ve recently had a grant proposal rejected and, after some reflection, you’re wondering if you should resubmit. You might even be thinking that your “labour of love” was pretty well written and it’s possible the funder just needs to see it again. If you’ve ever thought about that, you’re not alone. But is resubmitting a grant proposal a good idea or a bad idea? Would a funder really say “yes” to a grant application they have already denied? That’s a good question, and one you will want to carefully consider before investing any more time in what could be a losing proposition.

Before Resubmitting, Know Why Your Grant Proposal Was Rejected

Before ever considering resubmitting a grant proposal, remember that there are multiple reasons for why a proposal may have been rejected in the first place. Understanding your specific situation and why your proposal received a “no” is incredibly helpful when making the decision about whether to send it in for a second attempt.

Here are just a few reasons why a proposal might be rejected:

  • There were a number of great proposals the funder accepted instead of yours.
  • The proposal didn’t follow the outlined guidelines.
  • The proposal didn’t include all required documentation.
  • The grant cycle timing didn’t align with the project timing.
  • The project goals were different than the funder’s goals.
  • The organization didn’t appear ready to accept grant funding.
  • The project objectives weren’t measurable.
  • The budget didn’t add up appropriately.
  • The proposal failed to meet the submission deadline.
  • The proposal failed to show the benefits or impact of the project.
  • The proposal asked for too much money.

Resubmissions Can Succeed

While the reason behind your original grant rejection could have been for many different reasons, it is not unusual for grant writers to resubmit, and also not unreasonable for a funder to actually say “yes” to a proposal that has been resubmitted. In fact, the review committee may actually be a completely different group of people with no prior knowledge or information to let them know your proposal was previously turned down. Now, that doesn’t mean your organization should just casually resubmit a proposal without making important changes, but it does mean resubmissions can absolutely succeed if the right steps are taken.

3 Steps You Should Take Before Resubmission Of A Proposal

Here are the three steps you need to take before resubmitting your proposal:

  1. Connect with the funder to receive feedback.
  2. Implement the feedback through tangible and easily discernable ways.
  3. Review and edit the feedback before resubmitting the proposal.

In a February blog post, we wrote about how to leverage grant writing rejection to turn that experience into success. In “How To Survive Grant Writing Rejection And Use It To Your Advantage,” we discussed the idea of asking for feedback from a funder when your organization hears “no.” This idea also translates when considering the idea to resubmit a grant.

Step 1. Connect with the funder to receive feedback.

While gathering feedback and input from people who have told you “no” can be intimidating, it can also be a very liberating process. Once you gain a firm understanding for why a proposal was rejected, it is much easier to make an informed decision about whether to reapply and what might be needed to enhance the proposal.

The first step in the resubmission process is to set up an opportunity to connect with the funder. A face-to-face meeting is ideal, but if that is not possible, a phone conversation would also be incredibly helpful to have the chance to ask questions, clarify feedback, and ensure you are on the right track. In this meeting with the funder, don’t hesitate to specifically ask about the opportunity to resubmit your proposal. If a funder clearly tells you there is no point in resubmitting, you will save your organization a lot of effort and emotional energy. If they are open to the idea of resubmission, listen actively and take copious notes to ensure you hear everything they have to offer. Ask for clear examples of changes that need to be made. The more concrete the examples, the easier the revision process will be, and the greater chance you will have at gaining success with a second submission.

Step 2. Implement all the feedback.

As many have written before, common sense isn’t always that common. Although it may seem as though “implementing all the feedback” is a no-brainer step in this process, we want to be very clear that there shouldn’t be any debate when it comes to the changes that must be made to a proposal. You may disagree with a funder about what your proposal lacks or what needs to be done to prepare it for a particular funder, but unless there is an ethical or moral reason for why the change shouldn’t be made, or if the change will result in a shift in your program that is too severe, you are best to leave your personal preferences and opinions out of the process. It really is only the funder that matters in this situation.

So, how can you be sure to implement all the feedback? Shortly after the meeting with the funder is over, generate a checklist of all the changes the funder proposed. With the checklist close by, you can begin to make edits and revisions based on every piece of feedback the funder has provided. This type of administration and organization of the second proposal should provide you with confidence that you have effectively dealt with all the funder’s concerns and that the proposal is closer to what it needs to be in order to be successful.

Step 3. Complete a thorough review and edit.

Once the revisions are complete, it is time to take your proposal through a rigorous review and editing process. In every case, not just a scenario of resubmitting a proposal, it can be extremely effective to have an outside source complete the review process. Find someone you know and trust who understands grant writing and completing proposals, but who isn’t too closely aligned with your project that they end up bringing their presuppositions to the process. A fresh set of eyes is vital for catching small spelling and grammar mistakes, while someone outside your organization will also bring an unbiased opinion to the review. The more brutal honesty one can bring to the editing process, the greater chance the funder’s perspective will have been considered and even understood.

As part of the review process, provide your editor with a high-level understanding of some of the changes and additions the funder was seeking. This perspective will be important to ensure your editor reads to make sure the appropriate changes and revisions were implemented in a helpful way.

Don’t Waste A Funder’s Time… Or Yours

If you and your organization are going to go through the process of receiving feedback and engaging a funder with the idea of resubmitting your proposal, be sure to follow through with excellence. Don’t take this opportunity lightly, and do everything in your power to impress the funder with the level of care that has been shown in reworking the proposal. Resubmitting an application demonstrates a high level of perseverance and a commitment to having an impact through the work of your organization.

What Should You Do Next?

Have you recently had a proposal declined? Do you think there is an opportunity to resubmit? Take some time to examine your proposals from the past six months or a year to see if there is one or two you think might be worth revisiting. If you have one, connect with the funder as soon as possible and set up a time to discuss.

Want to get inside the mind of a funder before you resubmit your grant? Our GrantsEdge Coach will help you get your proposal ready to impress your funder. Check out GrantsEdge Coach to learn more about how we can support you and your organization.

Everything You Need To Know About The Grant Review Process

Wouldn’t you just love to be a fly on the wall as funders review grants? It must be incredibly difficult to actually make the decision about which organizations will be awarded a grant. There are so many incredible programs, and so many communities that would benefit.

So, what are funders looking for when they review your grant? What criteria do funders use when making their decisions? What do you need to know about the review process to ensure you have greater success? So many questions! Let’s unpack the answers.

3 Key Elements To Understand About Every Grant Review Process

Understanding these three elements before you ever begin to write your grant proposal will put you in a greater position for success.

  1. Specific Review Criteria
    Whether your grant proposal is for a Federal grant, a Family Foundation, or a local Community Foundation, funders will almost always provide review criteria within their guidelines or on one of the pages of their website. Funders may be looking for your proposal to have an element of collaboration, a significant evaluation component, or may be seeking proposals that bring a high level of innovation. Whatever it may be, it is vital for you to read through the criteria, as it will provide the foundation for your proposal. If neither the grant guidelines nor the website provide information about how the grant will be evaluated, ask. Attend an information session, send an email, schedule a phone call, or plan to meet the funder in person to ask about the review process.
  1. Goals Of The Grant Program
    Most funders are very open about their goals and what they hope to achieve through their grant program. The goals of the program are also often highlighted within the application guidelines. For example, if a funder’s goal is “to provide strategic investments in heritage sites, events, programs, and other projects of cultural, educational, and recreational value” and your application doesn’t clearly outline how your program aligns with this goal, there is a very strong chance funding will not be coming your way.
  1. Mission Or Purpose Of The Funding Organization
    Typically, funders will also be clear about their mission or purpose as an organization, and you need to ensure your application aligns. If the mission was to “preserve, enhance, interpret, and promote the cultural and heritage resources” within a specific geographic territory, you need to demonstrate in your proposal how your project meets that mission.

    By understanding the specific review criteria, the goals of the grant program, and the mission or purpose of the funding organization, you should be able to confidently write and complete your application. Understanding how your proposed program will intersect with each of these elements should help your proposal stand out among other really strong proposals.

Download 10 Of The Most Common Questions A Reviewer Might Ask.

Who Will Actually Review My Proposal?

There are a few different types of review committees. Understanding which of these committees may be reviewing your proposal will influence how you should prepare your application.

  1. Peer Review
    A peer review of grant proposals is often used within the academic and research fields, as well as for many arts organizations. These committees are made up of experts, authorities in their field who bring a significant level of understanding and experience to the programs and projects being reviewed. As an arts organization, you may be seeking funding for a dance program. A peer review, in this instance, would be made up of dance teachers, dance professionals, and individuals with many years of experience in dance programming. As a grant writer, this can be helpful to understand as you prepare your proposal. Within a peer review scenario, your writing can be more specific and detailed, as reviewers will likely have intimate knowledge of the sector, including recent research data.
  1. Volunteer Committees
    Many funders use volunteers to vet proposals and make final decisions about which organizations will receive funding. In this situation, you will need to be intentional about ensuring the review committee understands every element of your proposal. Use of industry jargon and acronyms make it difficult for volunteers to completely understand your message, as they may not have a direct knowledge of your sector.

    Keep the writing clear and concise and think about having someone outside your organization edit and review the proposal to make sure they fully understand your ideas. If they are confused at all, there is a chance your review committee may have some difficulty as well.

  1. Staff Review
    With some smaller funders, the review process may be completed by a small group of staff members. It might be one or two people who are given the task of making funding decisions. In these situations, staff may include an external review process as part of the overall evaluation. Through an external review, staff would gather information, suggestions, ideas, questions, and concerns that might be raised by some community experts. Although the individuals involved in the external review are not responsible for whether a proposal is accepted or declined, they do provide significant insight on the strengths and weaknesses of a proposed project.

    As mentioned earlier, it is helpful for grant writers to understand the review process. If it is not specifically stated in any guidelines, don’t hesitate to reach out to the funder to gain a better understanding for the process.

Understand even more about funders by reading: “How To Quickly And Easily Get Funders To Notice Your Proposal.”

Some Additional Grant Review Tips

The grant review process has a number of interesting elements to consider. Here are a few additional ideas you may want to know as you write your proposals.

  1. You may want to build relationships with local Members of Parliament so they are aware of your work.
  1. Funders may follow up with a grant writer to clarify information as they move through the review process. If a foundation seeks supplemental information, provide it to them as soon as possible. Communicate quickly and effectively and ensure they have everything they need to make a decision.
  1. Your organization may be asked to make a presentation. Don’t be surprised if this happens to you. Be as prepared as possible, and do everything you can to answer any questions they might have about your proposal. You should know your proposal inside and out, so share it humbly and with great clarity. Be sure to also thank them for the opportunity to present.

What Do You Need To Know About Your Next Review Process?

You may be writing a grant proposal right now, or may have one coming up in a few weeks. Stop and take the time to understand the review process before you even begin to write. Will it be a peer review process? Volunteer? Staff? How will the review process change the way you write your proposal? Be intentional in the way you write your next proposal by having a full understanding of the review process.

10 Of The Most Common Questions A Reviewer Might Ask

If you want to know even more about what goes on inside a review process, GrantsEdge has prepared 10 of the most common questions a reviewer might ask themselves as he or she sits down to review your proposal.

Download the document here by providing your name and email address and get 10 more questions a reviewer might consider as they evaluate your proposal. It’s FREE and your email address is safe with us (we won’t be giving it away to anyone).

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3 Grant Writing Myths That Are Limiting Your Success

Believing grant writing myths is a dangerous and potentially costly mistake for you and your organization. Let me tell you why.

It was grade 9, and I liked an older woman… she was in grade 10 (she seemed old) and definitely out of my league. I had noticed her during an after school event and had convinced myself there was no way she would even talk to me. She was too pretty, too funny, and too smart.

Another problem getting in my way of dating the perfect girl was the talk in the halls that suggested she had a boyfriend at another high school. Apparently he had a moustache, a tattoo, and rode a motorcycle. How could I compete with that?

It turns out (as I found out much too late) it was all a rumour. No boyfriend. No tattoo. No motorcycle. I had bought into the lie, believed the gossip, and ended up missing out on what may have been something great.

In the world of grant writing, you too may have bought into some rumours. There are some lies that continue to hang over the grant writing community that many believe to be the truth, and we know these myths are holding some of you back from incredible funding opportunities.

3 Grant Writing Myths You May Think Are True

By exposing some myths, we hope to open the door for you to feel more confident in pursuing funding opportunities you may have otherwise left on the table.

Grant Writing Myth #1

To Obtain The Money You Need, Your Organization Must Apply To Every Fund Possible

This is definitely not the approach we would encourage you to pursue. The “shot gun” method is one many organizations practice because they believe it will be the only way to secure enough money to run their various programs and projects. What this approach will likely bring is stress, anxiety, frustration, and an overall disillusionment with the granting process. It may or may not get you the money you need.

Instead, by building intentional relationships with specific funders, and pursuing only the opportunities that fit best with your organization, one may be able to write six grants to get four funded. Reducing the number of grants you write, but placing a greater effort and focus on the quality and fit of the grant, will likely increase the chances of getting funded and make the grant writing process less frustrating and more enjoyable. This approach takes work up front to do the research and to build the right connections, but it is well worth it.

Grant Writing Myth #2

The Big Organizations Get All The Money

It is not unusual for large organizations to obtain significant amounts of grant funding over the course of a given year. For some, it can feel like it’s a situation of the “rich getting richer.” While it’s true that big organizations often have a strong track record of success, it is typically because they have shown the ability to be effective stewards of the money awarded to them. It’s also often the case that larger organizations follow through with their ability to comply with funder guidelines and that many of them have strong relationships with funding organizations. These ideas are often true, and make it much easier for a funder to say yes to a proposal they know has a high likelihood of success.

But, don’t bail on writing your grant just yet. Funders have told us they are always on the lookout for new, innovative programs and projects. If you are able to craft a compelling proposal, with data, facts, and new research, funders are very willing to explore your application further. The other element any sized organization can implement in their grant writing process is establishing credibility through relationships. Get to know the funder and allow them the opportunity to get to know you. Don’t let your proposal be the first time they hear about your organization or your project. Through relationships, you can build trust and move closer to project funding.

Learn More About Building Relationships With Funders “The #1 Step You Must Take To Improve Your Grant Writing.”

In any proposal, it is also vital to demonstrate how you are able to effectively deliver on your project. Provide a funder with proof, or examples, of times you have had great success.

Don’t let what the big organizations are doing get in the way of seeking funding. Most big organizations started small around someone’s kitchen table. Learn everything you can from the “big guys,” but don’t assume anything about where a funder is going to invest their money.

Grant Writing Myth #3

Grants Are Awarded To Those With The Greatest Need

Again, like the others before, this statement simply isn’t true. Grants are typically awarded to the organizations that do the most effective job of telling their story and defining the need. Too many grant writers don’t adequately communicate the problem or pain points and don’t effectively share compelling research or data that suggests they have the best solutions.

Funders are also looking for proposals that fit with their vision and their purpose. Your organization may have a significant need, but your solutions may not resonate with specific funders.

Tell your stories well, communicate effectively, make sure you are a strong fit with the funder’s purpose, and through everything, demonstrate your ability to deliver on the funder’s interests. Those are the proposals that get funded.

Put Yourself In A Funder’s Shoes

I used to work with a man I respected greatly who would take some time regularly to sit in a chair in the reception area at the front of the office to gain some perspective. He wanted to see what our clients saw as they waited to be served. He wanted to get a sense for their perspective to make sure he could understand, as much as possible, where they were coming from and what they most needed. He would listen to clients talk to one another and watch as men and women came through our front doors. It changed the way he interacted with and helped the people that came through his office and helped the organization create a space and a process that kept the client at the centre of it all.

I would encourage you to try and do the same when it comes to grant writing. Put yourself in the funder’s shoes. Imagine reviewing hundreds of proposals, and how difficult it must be to come to a decision about which organizations receive money and which ones don’t. What questions would you want answered before you were willing to invest thousands of dollars? That type of perspective might just change your approach to your next grant proposal.

Rumours can get the best of us. It’s always a good idea to take some time to reflect and dig for the truth to make sure your reality isn’t skewed. Don’t let the myths about grant writing limit your opportunities and your success.

Want To Read About 3 More Grant Writing Myths?

The more you understand the myths, the better prepared you’ll be to write successful grants. Access “More Grant Writing Myths That Are Limiting Your Success” to get a sense for three more myths that cloud the grant writing world.

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