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GRANT WRITING FOR SUCCESS Kirsten M. Johnson EXPERIENCE WITH GRANTWRITING How many people have written… Fewer than 5 grants 10 or more grants More than you can count KIRSTEN M. JOHNSON 10+ years sharing the stories of nonprofit organizations through communications and fundraising materials. Writing published in books, magazines and online publications. Government, corporate, and private foundation proposals. Program expertise in aging services, youth development, and homeless services. SESSION OVERVIEW Skills needed to succeed in What we will cover in today’s grantwriting: session: Writer Simplifying the writing Researcher process Relationship Builder Successful grant seeking strategies Research resources Building relationships “I hate writing, I love having written.” - Dorothy Parker If you write grants, you are a writer. All writers experience writer’s block. WRITING IS A THREE STEP PROCESS Planning Drafting Editing PLANNING Making the case What is the problem or need? Why should someone invest in your work to solve it? Creating an outline Main points to make your case Funder questions, RFP, etc. Doing your research Funder Information Reader Analysis Program Information DRAFTING Free form writing Resist the urge to edit Consider turning off your monitor Getting your main points down on paper Editing a draft is far easier than editing a blank page Stopping to edit at designated points Decide if you will stop each paragraph, section, etc. EDITING Polishing what you have written Take time away from the proposal before you edit Improving clarity, style, length Having someone else read your proposal An editor from outside your program, field, etc. is especially valuable PROOFREADING Final stage of editing Spelling Grammar Format “On average today’s readers have an attention span of 15 words per sentence.” - Robert Gunning FORMATTING How you format your proposal 1. has a major impact on READABILITY. TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL FORMATTING Maximize white space Paragraphs should be no more than 6 lines long Create variety through use of different paragraphs, lists, and subheadings All lists should be in bullet form “Bullet Sandwich” Indicate changes in topic with highlighted subheadings Use a general to specific pattern Subheadings and introductory sentences Use tables and graphs Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Grant Writing TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 1 Don’t waste your time on proposals to funders that aren’t interested in your work. Do your research, know a funders interests and if they are a good fit for your organization. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 2 Don’t create a proposal template and reuse it for every funder. Do follow the instructions and format your proposal according to the funders outline, questions, or RFP. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 3 Don’t assume your reviewer knows more (or less) than they do. Do conduct a simple reader analysis and tailor your proposal to your readers needs. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 4 Don’t neglect the proposal budget. Do realize that many reviewers read the budget first – it needs to tell the same story as your proposal. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 5 Don’t present an overview of the work of your organization. Do make a compelling case: problem, solution, alignment. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 6 Don’t turn your proposal in at the last minute. Do get your proposal in early, using regular mail delivery. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 7 Don’t spend your whole proposal talking about the problem. Do provide an overview of the problem, and the outline the specific solution you intend to implement. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 8 Don’t describe your work only in generalities, use buzz words, or trendy concepts. Do list concrete, specific outcomes and tie each step of your plan to achieving your goals. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 9 Don’t try to change your organization to fit a funders guidelines. Do stick to your mission, be honest, and focus on where your goals genuinely align with a funders. TOP 10 DO’S AND DON’TS OF GRANT WRITING 10 Don’t create a document that is packed with data, but ultimately boring to read. Do paint a picture for your reader by telling the story of your organization and the work you want to do. “As anyone who has ever painted a room knows, at least 80 percent of the job is in the preparation. The same can be said for grantseeking.” - Cheryl Clarke DOING YOUR RESEARCH Prospect Research Community Need Program Information PROSPECT RESEARCH Private Funders Corporate Funders Government Funders COMMUNITY NEED Federal, State, and County Research Journal Articles and Conference Presentations National Organizations, i.e. AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, MetLife Local and Regional Organizations, i.e. Wilder Research, Aging Services of MN, MAAA Twin Cities Compass PROGRAM INFORMATION Mission, Vision, Core Programs Strategic Plan Business Plan Program Service Descriptions Participant Demographics Program Outcomes Myth: You have to know someone in order to get funding. Fact: Complete and compelling proposals get funded. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS The real advantage to knowing a funder, is that they know more about your work Building relationships is a skill all grant writers need INTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS Executive Director Accounting Staff Development Staff Program Staff Board Members COLLEAGUE RELATIONSHIPS Collaborative Partners Learning Communities Program Champions EXPERT RELATIONSHIPS Public Sector Employees Researchers National and Local Trade Organizations FUNDER RELATIONSHIPS Program Officers Trustees STEPS TO DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH A NEW FUNDER Review existing relationships Introductory phone call Ask them for a meeting Send a letter of inquiry Call after an award or denial letter Invite them to special events Attend conferences, events, etc. where they will be speaking MCN Philanthropy Leaders Breakfast Series “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” - Sholem Asch QUESTIONS?
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