Grant Writing Tips – Nonprofit Organization Edition ?

Are you getting ready to write a grant for the first time or are experienced but need a little refresher? We have compiled a list of the top 10 grant writing tips, laser-focused for nonprofit organizations. Most nonprofit organizations are able to operate thanks to donations and grants. Being able to write a grant for a nonprofit organization is an in-demand skill that will continue to grow for many years to come.











1) Create a calendar tracking all of the grants

Keep track of all of the grant deadlines in a calendar so that you are always up-to-date. GrantWatch offers a feature that allows you to add grants to your calendar so you can easily keep track of all of the information in one place.

2) Build relationships with grant funders

Many grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that have relationships with the funders. Build those relationships by contacting the funders and introducing your nonprofit organization. Tell them all about what you do and find common ground to spark conversation. 

3) Use SMART objectives

SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. These SMART objectives are used to measure progress. They need to be very specific of what it is that you wish to accomplish, include some kind of measurement, that measurement must be attainable and realistic, and you must assign a time to attain it by. 

4) Get your nonprofit organization grant ready

Assess the quality of your IRS,, and specific state requirements before you start applying for grants. Make sure that the nonprofit organization is at a level that allows them to apply for grants, and specific kinds of grants.

5) Evaluate your impact

After you receive the grant, make sure to evaluate how the grant has impacted the organization by assessing the SMART objectives you created. By assessing the impact, you can see how your organization has progressed and report back to the funders all of the work that you have done.

6) Review the application again

Once you are ready to submit the application, complete one more pre-submission check to assess the grant application to see how well it aligns with the requirements.

7) Learn everything about the grant funders

Research the makers and funders of the grants so that you are aware of everything. Know the deadlines, their grant making history, where the grants are being awarded, and compare to what you are searching for.

8) Acknowldge grant funders after you receive a grant

After receiving a grant, make sure to acknowledge the grant funders by inviting them to an open house, writing them thank you letters, or doing something extra special.

9) Have someone edit your proposal

After you write the proposal, make sure that you have someone else edit the application so they can see things that you might have missed.

10) Create a budget that is consistent with your story

When creating your budget, create it so that it tells the complete story of how you plan on using the money. Include everything that the funds will be used for, including staff and equipment.

Grant Writer Team is a platform for grant seekers and grant writers to come together to work grant applications. New grant writing jobs are being posted daily. If you are a grant writer, continue to check back with us to see if there are jobs that would work with your schedule. Our grant seekers would be greatly appreciative.

About the Author: The author is a staff writer at

Are you a Grant Writer Looking for Grant Writing Jobs? You’ve Come to the Right Place!

Are you a grant writer that is currently on the hunt for new grant writing jobs? Are you unsure where to look for projects that may be available to you? Well, I have good news! Grant Writer Team is the perfect place for you to find several grant writing jobs, all with different goals in mind. We are a platform that allows grant seekers to fill out a request for a grant writer, detailing the project they have in mind. Once our grant seekers complete their grant writing request form, we post the projects on our website, making them available for bids to all our writers. If you are a grant writer, this is a good time for you to find projects that are available to you. All you need to do is sign up on our website and start bidding on the available jobs. Are you interested in learning more about the jobs that are currently available? Great, keep reading! I'll detail more as we go!

Grant Writer Needed to Help Acquire Funding for my Business to Buy Equipment, Pay Employees, and Pay Start-Up Costs

We have a small business owner who is looking to find a grant writer willing to help him gather funding to expand his business. He has a desire to see his small business succeed, and for his business to move forward, he needs an experienced grant writer. Are you interested in working with this small business owner? Go bid on his project now!

Grant Writer Needed to Raise Funds for Christian Preschool, Aftercare, and Etiquette program 

We have a religious, nonprofit organization that is seeking the assistance of a grant writer to find the funding needed to provide affordable childcare as well as spiritual nurturing. With the money received from the grant, this organization plans to obtain a facility, pay salaries for 12 months, make repairs, take care of maintenance issues, and provide furniture for the spaces needed. Do you want to help this nonprofit? You can bid on this project now!

Grant Writer Needed to Help Get Halfway House Ministry Up and Running

We have an organization with the desire to start a halfway house for both men and women. They are seeking the assistance of a grant writer to gather the funding needed to purchase land and a home. Additionally, they need funding for a means of transportation for the men and women who will be living at the halfway house. These grant seekers want to make a difference by providing these people with housing as they work to get back on their feet. Does this sound like the job for you? If you decide to bid on this project, these grant seekers would be greatly appreciative.

We could continue to talk about the project listed at Grant Writer Team all day. These three projects are just a few of the many projects listed. Don't hesitate, bid on some of the available grant writing projects. Our grant seekers would be greatly appreciative of your efforts to help them succeed in their current endeavors.

Grant Writer Team is a platform for grant seekers and grant writers to come together to work grant applications. The above-listed jobs are available as of September 2019. However, new grant writing jobs are being posted daily. If you are a grant writer, continue to check back with us to see if there are jobs that would work with your schedule. Our grant seekers would be greatly appreciative.


Grant Writing for the Beginner


Are you a beginner trying to start a career in grant writing?

Are you a writer looking to jump into the world of writing grants, but you’re not sure where or how to start? Writing grants is much more involved than writing an article or paper, so you should do your research and prepare yourself for the in's and outs of grant writing before completely jumping into writing grants. It's okay if you're a beginner. All grant writers had to start somewhere. Your grant writing journey begins now. Follow these simple tips, and you will be well on your way to mastering the art of writing grants.

Step 1: Do some research, decide if grant writing is for you.

You’re a beginner, so here are some things you need to know. Grant writing takes hard work and dedication. You must stick to a set schedule and remain focused on the project for an extended period. You may be an excellent writer, but the writing style for writing grants is very specific. You must be detail-oriented and able to write with precision. Grant funders don't want to be bogged down with long, fluffed up proposals. These funders want proposals that are written clear and concise. Does that sound like something you can do? Well then, keep reading!

Step 2: Expand your knowledge of grant writing.

You're new to grant writing, so you will need to do everything you can to learn as much as you can. Grant writing takes practice and experience. Therefore, sign up for a class. Take advantage of the learning opportunity. Taking a class will get you one step closer to be a successful grant writer. Don’t let being a beginner scare you. If grant writing still interests you, taking a class will not be a mistake.

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice.

When you're a beginner, you must practice. When you're learning to swim, you can't just jump in the deep end and stay afloat. Grant writing is the same. You must take the time to increase your knowledge and skill of grant writing to become successful. You will need to practice writing grants proposals. Practice makes perfect, so keep developing your grant writing skills and never give up.

Grant writing can be a rewarding career. Don't let your beginner status scare you. Follow your dreams and pursue your passions. These simple tips will help you get started down the right path but pursuing a grant writing career will take dedication and hard work.

GrantWriterTeam is the perfect place to start when you've gotten some experience. We hope to see you here!


Firefighters Need Grants too!

Firefighters aren’t excluded from needing help. Everyone, at some time, needs assistance during a hard time.


Emergency services, in any city, are an asset. However, there comes a time in the lives of all emergency personnel, where a choice of a career change or retirement is imminent. In some cases, manymembers of a station or team may decid  to leave their position working in emergency services. These decisions may be ideal for the individuals; however, they can cause a shortage of emergency personnel for a specific city. The Buffalo Fire Departmenty will be facing a problem as such in the coming years. They will be saying goodbye to many of their firefighters, who have decided to part ways with their careers in emergency services. Unfortunately, for the Buffalo Fire Department, they will be left with a shortage of staff in some of their stations. Luckily, the Buffalo Fire Department has been awarded a federal grant of 9.8 million dollars that will provide them with the means needed to replace these personnel. The grant money will be utilized for the replacement of these firefighters over the next few years, ensuring that a shortage does not occur due to lack of funding. Jerry Zremski quoted the mayor of Buffalo, who said: “This will create some additional savings for us, which is extremely important,” (para. 3). The funding provided by this grant will allow the Buffalo Fire Department to remain fully staffed, helping them to continue keeping their city and their residents safe.


Are you a grant writer? If so, this is a perfect example of a way you can make a difference. No matter the project, how big or how small, you can use your knowledge and experience to help win grants for many different causes. If grant writing is your passion, start working on grant proposals today.

Grant funding is helpful to all individuals who may be amid a difficulty or struggle. Regardless of the situation, there are likely grants available. GrantWatch and GrantWriterTeam are all available platforms that can help you take the next step in your grant search. If you’re confused and looking for a place to start, its recommended to use these sites. Like the Buffalo Fire Department, you could win a grant to help with your personal or your clients financial struggles.


Grant Writing: The Top 3 Tips to Becoming a Successful Grant Writer

Grants provide people with a means to find funding for different projects and purposes in which they may have a passion. Are you a skilled and experienced writer with a passion for helping others achieve their personal goals? Well, you've come to the right place. Writing grants can be a fun and meaningful way to help people and make a difference. If you're new to the idea of grant writing or are just interested in learning more, you may find the following tips helpful. 

Grant writing

Take the Time to Learn the Process.​

While grant writing does require you to be a skilled writer, it is different than simply writing a paper or an article. Therefore, a significant amount of research must be done to learn the in's and out's of grant writing. You may ask, "what is the best thing for me to do to become a grant writer"? My suggestion, enroll in a class that will allow you to learn all there is to know regarding the successful grant writing process. There are a lot of steps to becoming a successful grant writer, so make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to learn and succeed at grant writing. 

Know and Understand the Project. 

Writers all have their style, a way they feel most comfortable when writing. So, when choosing a grant writing project, you should have prior knowledge and understanding of the project to succeed. While research is always necessary, it is best if you already have experience or knowledge of the topic. Knowledge and experience will allow you, as a grant writer, to have higher success on any given project. When writing a grant, make sure your writing style suits the project to ensure you are successful.

Take your Time.

As with any writing project, you must take your time. Attempting to rush the grant writing process could lead to errors that could cause the project to be less efficient, leading to an unsuccessful completion. Typically, you can only submit a grant proposal once; therefore, you need the project to be perfect. The only way to achieve perfection is to work hard, think logically, and take your time, ensuring each element of the grant writing process has been carefully constructed to lead to success. 

Grant writing can be fun, and it can be rewarding. The three steps above are a good place to start, but there is much more to becoming a successful grant writer. Take these tips, run with them, and research the best processes to take when becoming a grant writer. 

Are you ready and interested in becoming a grant writer, sign up for our Grant Writer Team now!

Diary of an Aspiring Grant Writer. Learning to Write a Grant

grant writer

After over two decades working as a writer in a variety of capacities, as a journalist, author (novelist), content writer and editor, I finally decided to explore the world of grant writing. About 14 years ago, as the executive director for a medium sized faith-based nonprofit, I took a one day grant writing workshop at the Center for Philanthropy in Indianapolis, and assisted a professional grant writer on our board of directors with researching and locating grants, but have never written a complete grant.

The professional grant writer wrote a number of grants we searched for together and won several of them from $5,000 for a preliminary funding to $30,000 to create a strategic plan for our capital campaign. I was left to follow-up with the foundation that provided the grant, set up the interviews for the strategic planning company with members and big philanthropists from the city, and make sure we complied with their conditions, but that's a story for another post. 

Working at GrantWatch has renewed my interest in learning to write grants. I've been involved with a number of nonprofit organizations over the years and have seen the difference adequate funding can make in providing the programming and services you can offer. 

Recently, a dear friend with a calling to start a new program for at-risk youth overseas told me about her idea and sent me her proposal. Tracey Shipley, has been helping teens and young adults get and stay sober through involvement in the creative arts, particularly music for a number of years. A powerful force to be reckoned with – a force for good – Shipley is a teen and family counselor, creative arts therapist and addictions specialist for over twenty years. She's worked for public institutions and privately with clients with all levels of addiction including heroin addicts and their families.

Several years ago, Tracey founded Sobar Jerusalem, providing a safe musical haven for teens and young adults to gather, listen to music or perform and socialize with no alcohol or drugs, in essence, a "sober bar." She obtained some municipal funding, put up a crowdfunding campaign, had lots of donors and programs, and kept the program going for a number of years. 

Shipley is an inspiring dynamo who got people behind her cause. She put together a board of directors and mission statement, had meetings with potential donors and got the message out in national media including newspapers and in-depth television coverage. The idea grew and grew, and she found space for the project, put together a band as well as offering open mic opportunities, and got musicians to donate their time and energy to helping young artists perfect their craft and hone their performances. 

They began offering other classes and it continued to grow and in one sense thrive – the people who attended and were involved thrived – and stayed away from drugs… but they weren't able to sustain it long term. They had to scale back and soon Sobar Jerusalem was only open once every month or so, again, rotating from one venue to another with the promise of great entertainment and a great place to get together with friends and meet new people in a sober environment. Parents were thrilled with the idea, but during times when bombings and terror activities became more intense, it just wasn't people's priority or in their best interest, to go out at night.

Fast forward another year and Shipley is at it again with a revised project she describes below, that is open to all teens and young adults, she calls plan B. 

The precursor of a center such as the 'Sobar' will be the formation of Jerusalem's first School of Rock – 'JSOR'! An exciting innovative project that will involve both teens and young adult musicians as students; teachers and performers.

We will train young singers and musicians already with advanced talents to reach a higher potential. We will prepare them to work with musicians to form bands while showing them how to perform on a stage and draw in their audience.

The teachers and mentors will be young adult musicians and other young professionals in the field who will be trained to work with youth of all backgrounds. These mentors will be encouraged to excite the young participants through their personal stories of music as their natural high.

Once participants are prepared, we will provide them with performance venues. They will be able to invite their friends and audiences of all ages. Similar to the 'Sobar' events, the performances will be alcohol and smoke free while maintaining the atmosphere of an exciting concert.

And so, we're looking for a grant and to get it written. In the meantime, we have put up a crowdfunding campaign on YouHelp.

I turned to expert grant writer Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch for guidance. She's working on creating a Grant Writing Institute, with a course to become a professional grant writer, but I can't wait. We need to get this venture going now. 

Hikind suggested that before we start writing a grant that we take these questions into consideration: "Do we have enough lead time to make the deadline? Do we completely meet the grant eligibility? What are the grantors willing to fund? Are you or is anyone in your organization qualified to write the grant? Create a team to work together on it, or find an experienced grant writer through Grant Writer Team." 

So, for Shipley's project, we used the GrantWatch location settings.  Next, we looked through appropriate categories along the right side of the GrantWatch website: Arts and Culture, Youth/Out-of-School Youth, Capital Funding, and Substance Abuse.

Which should we review first? What's the closest to our mission or should we do an advanced search that will include more than one of those topics? We will be skimming through and if there are too many, we'll narrow down the search. If not, we'll go ahead from there.  

We read through all the offerings and found two grants to apply for. We read the descriptions on the site of how to apply and get started.  

Between the crowdfunding campaign and grant applications available, I am hoping to help Sobar Jerusalem and JSOR, get the funding they need. 





About the Author: Riki Horowitz has spent years in the nonprofit world with a number of different organizations.


Let Us Help You Find A Match, Meet the GrantWriterTeam


GrantWriterTeam is ready to help. As the new liaison between our grant writers and grant seekers, I’ve been exploring the GrantWriterTeam website and have been very pleasantly surprised on a number of occasions with some of its great features.

One terrific feature is a page with new funding opportunities with their deadline, due dates, culled from GrantWatch. Both grant seekers and grant writers alike will benefit from these new grant listings.

In addition, there’s the page for grant writers with the current grant writer requests. At the moment, we have 31 grant requests open for bids, and it’s constantly changing as grant seekers choose a grant writer and new grant seekers put up their requests for a grant writer.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to work with the wonderful, experienced professional grant writers who are part of the team. Every grant writer on the team is a star. I was just telling a grant seeker today that if I were looking for a grant writer and had to choose between them, it would be extremely hard to decide. They’re all that good.

All our grants writers are highly experienced and very accomplished. Our grant writers will only bid on your grant request if they feel sure that they have the know-how and expertise to write for you.

Meet Some of Our Grant Writers:

I’d like to tell you a bit more about just a few of our fabulous GrantWriterTeam members whom I have the pleasure of working with. They’ve all got even more experience and areas of expertise than I have room to share with you today, but here’s a start:

Barbara30 has 25 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and grant writer. She can help you research numerous opportunities, and is experienced in disabilities, pets, youth, disadvantaged families, health and wellness, after-school programs, respite care, seniors, domestic violence and other social services. She’s written and received grants from Community Foundations. Federal. State. Corporate Foundations, Family Foundations, and Corporate Sponsorships.

Alicia10 has seven years of experience writing and receiving federal and foundation grant awards including OVW, BJA, OVC, OJJP, and state grants through Nevada and Arizona, and national and local foundation awards.

Cynthia14 is our newest grant writer to join the team. Cynthia has 25 years of experience as a grant writer. Her areas of expertise include: Start to finish grant proposal writing, federal, state, local, foundation, and corporate. She’s also an expert in grant research, creating budgets and budget development, reports, budget narratives, and reporting. Cynthia has been awarded millions of dollars of grants from the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, and so much more. “I have secured 12 YouthBuild grants through DOL and one Green Jobs grant.”

Dr._Cindy1 has 20 years of grant writing experience. She is a skilled, results-driven technical and academic writer and strategist with a strong understanding of federal grants and fundraising strategies. Dr. Cindy has a solid track record of securing federal, private, and corporate funding by developing compelling arguments to communicate organizational needs. Among the grants she’s been awarded are a grant for the Houston Police Department for $1 million, and a Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant from the Department of Agriculture for $495,550.

Marilyn10 has a PhD in sociology from Purdue University and was a professor of sociology for 25 years, and is an expert in issues relating to domestic violence, organizational theory, gender and childhood. She has 20 years experience working with nonprofits and educational institutions consulting in grant writing, research, curriculum writing, and program oversight and administration.

Marsha3 has 24 years experience in grant writing, grant research and creating business plans. She works as the Vice-President of Marketing for a large Florida nonprofit and in her spare time, she helps more nonprofits find the funding the need. She has developed Requests for Funding Proposals for leading nonprofit agencies, including Jewish Family Services, Special Needs Education and Scholarships for Single Parents, securing multiple six-figure grant awards for her clients. Marsha has a BA in Journalism and has worked as a staff writer and publication editor as well.

For all our grant writers I’ve left out, please don’t take offense, I only have so much room, and I’ll write about you next time. It’s a pleasure working with you all!

Grant Awards and Testimonials Page, Our Success

Another page I recently discovered has some of the grant awards our GrantWriterTeam members have told us about, that they’ve been awarded for GrantWriterTeam clients, as well as testimonials from some of the GrantWriterTeam clients they’ve worked with. These can really help grant seekers choose a grant writer, if any of the grant writers who’ve put up their awards or have testimonials about their work on the page, you can rest assured that it’s all true.

To get started, just go to and post a request for a grant writer. Our writers will bid on the job if they’re available and think it’s a good fit, then you get to choose who you’d like to work with. Sometimes it just takes one bid and you find that perfect match, so don’t wait to get started.

Or if you’re an experienced grant writer, you can apply to work with our team by filling out your profile. You just upload information about three to five of the grant proposals you’ve written that have been awarded, add a page from two to three of those grants as writing samples, put in your email, upload your resume, two to three references, and pay the weekly or monthly fee to get started. Once approved, you can start bidding on grant writing requests immediately. Your bids will be shared with the grant seeker as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, give me a call: 561-249-4129. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and help you get started.

Best wishes,


If you liked this post, please read more on our GrantWriterTeam, GrantWatch, YouHelp, and GrantNews blogs and subscribe to our GrantNews email newsletter. 




About the Author: The author is the GrantWriterTeam specialist/liaison.


11 Grant Writing Tips for The Health and Medical Fields


Grants are essentially financial aid that is given to help fund specific research, programs and projects. Medical grant awards have the capacity to impact not only the grant recipients but their entire communities and in many cases the world. It's therefore imperative for medical professionals, researchers, hospital administrators, universities, and medical nonprofits to learn the skills to assure that they will be awarded the health and wellness funding they need.  

Grant writing is a part of the process of applying for a grant because you are oftentimes required to write “proposals” and “submissions”. Grant writing can be done by yourself, but you can hire someone who has the specific knowledge needed to write the perfect grant submission. Studies and research done every day in the health and medical field bring us closer to cures for deadly diseases, different vaccinations, and to even help us find the cause of many different conditions. With this being said, funding for health and wellness grants requires large amounts of money and without fully understanding grant writing, these funds could be unattainable.  

Health and Medicine Grants




Eleven Tips for Grant Writing for the Health and Wellness Field

In order for the people in today's world to make groundbreaking discoveries in health and science, they must fully understand what kind of research they want to do. For example, if someone wanted do research a cure for HIV or AIDS, they would need to fully understand the background of it, how it spreads, the warning signs and symptoms, etc. In hopes of successfully securing funding, you must have both knowledge and experience in the topic and grant writing skills. 

1. Time 

To make sure you have a well thought-out and responsive grant application you need plenty of time for your grant application. It may seem simple to pull together a project such as this, especially if you already know all the details related to your research project, but grant applications generally require at least three drafts before they are ready for submission.  Allow time for everything to be done without being rushed, including getting feedback from peers and colleagues. It's best not to be rushed so you can take a few days off and come back to your proposal with fresh eyes, with time left to make any final changes that may be needed. 

2. Choose Your Funder Carefully 

Whether you are a nonprofit organization, IHE institute for higher education, a medical research facility, individual researcher, municipality or a for-profit organization, choosing the right funding source is crucial. Read eligibility criteria very carefully, then talk to the funders before submitting your application. Find out what types of projects they are interested in funding, and sign up for news forums. This will ensure that you will make the right decision on funders and that you will not miss any important information. 

3. Advice 

If it is your first time, or your one-hundredth time, seeking advice and knowledge from experts in the field will help you create a stronger needs statement. Collaborate with other grant writers within your networks, such as colleagues and mentors, that might have served on funding panels. 

4. Create A Plan of Action 

One of the biggest aspects of grant writing is planning out the entire application and proposal process. Just like getting all the facts you would need when diagnosing a patient, like learning the symptoms and warning signs, it works the same as planning out your grant. The more open-minded you remain and the more ideas and interesting concepts you can come up with. 

5. Surround Yourself with the Right People 

The people you choose to be involved with your project will affect its evaluation. You can show proof that the people on your grant team are capable of delivering all the necessary expertise to complete the project and you can also return on the MRC’s investment. Personnel should account for about 80% of your budget, according to the NIH, and it's worth investing in the best individuals for each job. Surrounding yourself with a great group of people provides you with more knowledge and the right amount of support. 

6. Clear Hypothesis 

Develop a clear and concise hypothesis when writing grants for medical research, or health. You need to focus on what you are doing and why you are doing it. Once you have decided on a hypothesis, provide knowledge to back up your hypothesis, that will convince the grant committee of the need for your research. 

7. Justify 

Always justify your research. Show calculations, research forums, your own specific research, or anything that is going to prove your methods. 

8. Speak with Confidence 

When writing your grant proposal, you need to use a confident voice in your writing.  This will exude confidence in your proposed research and what you plan to achieve. Being informed, knowing the facts, symptoms and warning signs, statistics, etc., will allow you to submit your proposal with confidence. When you begin telling your story, use an intriguing hook to bring people into the submission.

9. Data 

While it seems as if data can always help you back something up, this is not always the case. Throwing in a bunch of data that is useless and not really adding to the point, will only lessen your chances of receiving the grant you want. Using preliminary data that backs up and pushes your agenda is the best choice. 

10. Review

Reviewing your own application and letting others within your team review it, highlighting mistakes, superfluous information, adding new information, etc. will help you tighten your proposal. Sometimes when we review things alone, we overlook simple mistakes that can end up hurting us. Letting someone else review, ask questions and come up with new ideas could give you a new perspective. 

11. The Impact 

Whether your research is or is not directly affecting economic or even social impact it is important to find out how it will. Explain your work, the consequences of your work, and the benefits of your work, talking about how it can affect the overall health of humans everywhere. Finding the pathways that link your research to many different benefactors will only improve your research. 


Basically, there are many different ways you can improve your grant writing skills when presenting a proposal for health or medicine.


About the Author: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

5 Rules for Grant Writers: Navigating the Grant Writing Process for Success!


This guest post article by Maryn Boess puts the fun back into grant writing.  Amid the stress of deadlines and the many personalities we navigate as grant writers, on GrantwriterTeam, this article from her website, reprinted with her permission, presents a novel approach to the profession.  Maryn Boess takes her years of experience and puts it into a gameboard for grant writers.  Enjoy! 

What’s your favorite game?

In my 20-plus years of working as an active grant professional – first as a program planner and proposal writer, more recently in my work as a trainer, coach, and grantmaker – I’ve come to see clearly that grantsmanship is not an activity; it’s a strategic, ongoing, systematic process.

I like to call the process “The Grantsmanship Game.” It’s all about managing the details of your organization’s grant seeking effort in a way that gives your proposals the winning edge – and helps them rise to the top when funders make their grant awards.

It’s a serious game, to be sure: The well-being of many, many people can depend on the outcome.

But just like any game, The Grantsmanship Game has several key elements that we need to learn – and learn to work with – if we want to not only stay in the game but win more consistently.

Let’s take a few minutes to unpack them.

Download a PDF of the “Grantsmanship Gameboard”!

“Unpacking” the Game

Basketball, checkers, Monopoly, hockey: Different games, yes – but they do share some important elements in common.

The Grantsmanship Game shares these elements as well. Here’s what you’ll find when you pull the cover off your Grantsmanship Game box:

A gameboard. The gameboard is the playing field, or operating environment, in which the game is conducted. The operating environment is always unique to the game being played: It’s pretty tough to play basketball on a checkerboard, or Monopoly in a hockey rink.

In The Grantsmanship Game, the operating environment includes your community, your constituents, the regulatory and legislative environment, the socioeconomic and political climate of your community, even the culture and values of your own organization. All of these factors will significantly and dramatically influence the shape of your grant-seeking process – and the strategies that will help you be most successful.

Rules. All games have rules. These are the non-negotiable fundamental must-dos and must-have’s of a particular game. If you want to play the game, you must agree to follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, either you never get into the game in the first place, or you find yourself “kicked off” the gameboard and out of the game completely. More about the five essential rules of The Grantsmanship Game later.

The Grantsmanship Game: Playing to WinMoves, or squares. In many games, the players must make their way around the gameboard by moving through a sequence of squares, in some specified order.

The same is true in The Grantsmanship Game. The moves or squares are the steps that players must take to make progress toward the end goal. In The Grantsmanship Game, the squares represent the tasks or activities we teach at GrantsMagic U as being critical to a complete, rock-solid grants process.

The moves don’t necessarily have to be made in one-after-another sequence – but no skipping allowed! If a “chance” card (see below) jumps you backward or forward, you must go back and make sure you take care of all the steps you might have missed.

Chance” cards. Guess what – we don’t control everything! Monopoly has its “chance” cards: At any given moment in a game, you can draw a card that either propels you forward or sets you back unexpectedly.

Grant seekers know this is true in their game, as well. No matter how carefully we plan and how conscientiously we follow the moves, the unexpected can happen: A key staff person gets sick just before the deadline; a major partner pulls out; another major source of funding comes through for you, completely out of the blue. When The Grantsmanship Game hands you a “chance” card like one of these, the layout of the gameboard makes it easier to figure out what you need to do to get back on track and back in the game.

A “winner’s” goal. Most games have a clear-cut starting point; not all have a clear-cut end. Monopoly is one example: The game can go on and on until there’s only one player left standing.

The Grantsmanship Game is another example.

It’s actually a cyclical game: Once you’re on the gameboard, you keep playing as long as you like, cycling through the same rules and the same steps over and over again, only with different corporate, foundation and government funders each time. The game is “won” each time the process succeeds in producing a solid grant proposal that reflects your organization’s very best efforts – one that represents your mission as a service organization, and at the same time connects with the philanthropic mission of the grantmaker.

Strategies. Finally, it isn’t enough to simply be familiar with the gameboard and have memorized the official, non-negotiable rules. To be truly, consistently, predictably successful in any game over time, we must also have practical knowledge about how to apply effective strategies. These are the skills and understandings we bring to the game that dramatically affect how efficiently and successfully we address the challenges and decisions that arise as we navigate the gameboard.

Many of the top strategies for The Grantsmanship Game are ones we learn over time, through experience and training. But I maintain that we all start out with three of the most important strategies in our skill bank. These are:

  • Common sense (surprising how quickly our ability to apply common sense becomes threatened when money is at stake!);
  • Good people skills (another surprise: contrary to many opinions, grantsmanship is a people-driven process, not a paper-driven one); and
  • A team- or partnership-oriented mindset (about which more later).

Rules of the Game

The Grantsmanship Game is different every time it’s played, because the specifics of each funder’s priorities, needs and interests are different.  But there are five basic rules that drive the game and keep you in control of the process. These are:

Rule 1: Know Yourself – Connecting Purpose and Planning

This rule speaks to the heart of the matter, which I call mission-first grantsmanship. Success in grant-seeking begins at the beginning: With a deeply held, common understanding of who you are as an organization, what you’re here to do in the world, and why it’s important.

“Deeply held” means this understanding is the foundation of everything you do as an organization. “Common” means all the stakeholders are marching under the same banner – program staff, administrative staff, board members, volunteers. Focus first on clearly, concisely and compellingly telling your organization’s story and articulating your mission, vision, and values. Then and only then will you be prepared to share that story with potential funders.

Rule 2: Build True Partnerships – Collaborating for Success

A Federal program officer said it loud and clear a few years back: “Whether the funder requires it or not, if it ain’t a collaborative proposal, it ain’t gonna be competitive.” It’s all about leveraging. How can you work with other members of your community to share resources, responsibilities, risks, and rewards?

The emphasis here is on the word “true.” Funders aren’t fooled by a “partnership” that consists of a slapped-together list of names with no sense of commitment or shared vision behind it. The best partnerships begin before there’s money on the table because two or three or four people from different organizations recognize an opportunity to work together for the greater good of each other – and the community at large.

Rule 3: Plan, Plan, Plan – Plan! – Building Your Master Grant Proposal Blueprint

Did you know that only 20% of a successful grant seeking effort involves actually writing the proposal? The other 80% consists of – you guessed it – planning.

A solid grant proposal is nothing more than a business plan, plain and simple. You wouldn’t go to a bank for a loan without a business plan in place. And you shouldn’t approach a prospective funder with anything less than a complete, detailed blueprint for how you see your program or project working.

The planning should take place before you begin assembling a proposal for a particular funder. In other words, develop your own business plan first – your source document.  Then you can draw from it and tailor it to fit any grantmaker’s required form and format.

Rule 4: Know Your Funder – Research and Relationships

Ah, at last – we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.

“Know Your Funder” speaks to the issue of doing your homework.

This means using the appropriate resources to identify your A-list of grantmakers most likely to be interested in what you have to offer, and then of finding out everything you can about who they are, what they’re looking for, and what they hope to achieve with their grantmaking. Then and only then can you decide whether the funder is a good fit for your organization.

All other factors aside, the single most important reason funders choose to support a given request for funding is that what the applicant has to offer helps the funders achieve their own mission and purpose in the world.

An additional word of wisdom: The best time to begin a relationship with a prospective funder is not two days before the proposal is due!

Rule 5: Create an A+ Grant Proposal – On Paper or Online

This is where it all comes together, at last.

What is an A+ proposal? Well, getting funded is a good indicator here – but there’s more to it than that.

Whether or not a given proposal is chosen for funding depends on a lot of considerations that are outside the grant seeker’s direct control. For me, the definition of an A+ proposal focuses on four qualities that we can control. These are:

(1)  It’s in on time. No ifs, ands, or buts. If there’s a deadline, and you don’t meet it, nothing else matters. End of subject.

(2)  It crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s. Whatever instructions or qualifications the funder holds for the proposal, you’ve paid attention to each and every one of them. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming an “easy out,” as in: “Oops, look, we asked that proposals be submitted unbound, and this one’s stapled. Well, that’s one more proposal we won’t have to bother reading.”

(3)  The proposal clearly represents the front end of a well-thought-out business plan. This relates directly back to Rule #3 and calls on us to make sure all the questions have been answered, all the pieces are in place, and everything holds together and makes sense.

Finally, the kicker:

(4)  Your proposal makes it very clear how supporting your proposal will help the funder further its own philanthropic mission. Guess what: Grantmakers need us – they can’t fulfill their philanthropic missions for creating change in the world without the programs and services that we offer. Our proposals succeed to the extent that we can demonstrate this all-important match with the funder’s own mission.

The Rule of Common Sense

There’s one other non-negotiable rule to success in the grantsmanship game – and that’s what I call the Rule of Common Sense.

All other things being equal, we can rely on our own innate common sense – the same good thinking skills that have helped us be successful in other areas of our life – to guide us through much of The Grantsmanship Game’s murkier territories.

As you’re moving around the gameboard, ask yourself almost any question – for instance:

  • “The page limits are so strict; should I eliminate headings and bulleted lists to save space?”
  • “I wonder if the funder would like to see a description of our partnership efforts, even if it isn’t required?”
  • “I don’t understand this instruction; what do they really want here?”
  • “We don’t fit their guidelines but they’re new in our community and doing a lot of local funding. Shouldn’t we send a proposal too?”

Then ask yourself: What would common sense dictate? The answers will be, in this order:

  • How would you like it if you were the reviewer struggling through 30 proposals that were nothing but paragraph after paragraph of solid black unbroken text?;
  • Sure, wouldn’t you?;
  • Don’t guess or second-guess – call the funder and ask; and
  • Nope! (though you may want to begin a “feeling-them-out” relationship in case they open up their funding priorities).

See? That wasn’t so tough. Common sense wins, virtually every time. Hang on to yours, as tightly as you can. You’ll encounter plenty of fellow players along the way who will try to wrest your common sense from you, in the name of chasing the money.

Don’t let them. Trust the good judgment that has brought you this far. It can take you all the way.

A  Final Word About “Fun”

When teaching The Grantsmanship Game concept I often ask people what associations they can make between the words grantsmanship and game. Most answers are pretty predictable: They’ll come up with rules, and players; money (if they’re thinking about Monopoly); competition; and winning.

Every once in a while, a lone voice will raise tremulously in the back of the room, as if almost embarrassed to speak out: “What about fun? I think working on grant proposals is fun. Am I crazy?”

Yes, you are – crazy like a fox. After all, enjoying what we do is what puts the zip in our work, keeps us coming back, keeps us wanting to do more, do better, stretch and grow. The great thing is, it works the other way around, too: The better we are at doing something, the more we’re likely to enjoy doing it.

And guess what: The more we win, too!

This article is edited and reprinted with the author’s permission.

If you’re new to grant seeking and could use a getting-started boost, be sure to check out Maryn’s free Quick-Start Guide to the One-Page Grant Proposal – a simple, powerful proposal planning tool plus three-part video training to get you on your way to success!

If you enjoyed this post, please share! For more great grants tips see our GrantWriterTeam articles.

About the Author: Over her 25+-year nonprofit career, Maryn has been an on-staff grant writer, grants consultant, a grants trainer, a grants reviewer, author, speaker, mentor and coach; and – since 2006 – even a grantmaker. This 3-D background brings a unique insider’s perspective to the practical and inspiring training of grant writers.


4 Reasons to Keep Learning for Professional Development and Career Advancement

professional development

In life, we can never stay on the same level. Standing still is not an option. As the world moves forward, if we stop learning, we not only stop growing, we’re actually moving backward. The faster the pace of the world, the more we need to keep learning.

Grant writers are no exception, in fact, staying abreast of developments in grant research, proposal writing, how to win government contracts, and help clients with grant management once grants are obtained, can be a full-time job.

Education can be formal or informal. It can include taking courses, going to workshops, seminars, and conferences, getting an advanced degree, or reading and studying on your own. Watching lectures and how-to videos by experts on YouTube, listening to podcasts and audiobooks to learn new skills in your areas of interest and gain new proficiencies, are all no- or low-cost ways to stay abreast of any new trends, advancements or best practices happening in the field.

Confucius said, “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

According to Abraham Maslow, the American positive psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, “We’re always growing or stepping back into safety.” In order to keep growing, developing and advancing, continuing education is crucial for anyone who wants to succeed in their career.

“The acquisition of knowledge is a pathway to prosperity.  Spend time each day investing in yourself by learning something new. Education pays more dividends than the stock market.” says Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, Grant Writer Team and YouHelp.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, for nonprofits wanting to change the world and business owners wanting to make a difference, it’s not about formal training. Being an autodidact, learning on your own is a great way to grow as well as getting degrees.

Professional Development and Career Advancement

Here are 4 reasons for grant writers and other professionals to continue to read, take classes, go to workshops and conferences in your profession, according to blogger Darius Foroux, in his post “Education.”

1. Making Better Decisions for Professional Development

You make better decisions when you educate yourself, look at the facts, and research everything. Never underestimate that the quality of your decisions will shape the outcome of your life and career.

2. More Opportunities

Keep an open mind and keep learning for professional development and career advancement. “Education opens your mind and more importantly, it increases your opportunities. People who are closed-minded and stick to what they know will never change. And change is the forward driving force of life,” explains Foroux.

“By educating yourself, you might think about things you’ve never thought of before. And you will be exposed to ideas you’ve never heard about. Combine those things together, and you have enough ideas and opportunities for a lifetime,” he adds.

Foroux suggests keeping a notebook and writing down new ideas as they come to you. “You’ll keep growing if you keep learning every day.” Plus, he says, new ideas will come to you easily, without force.

3. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn! 

Be the type of job applicant and employee that adds to a company, bringing ideas and ways to develop and contribute. Keep developing your skills so you can find the weaknesses in a company or nonprofit and help them improve.

“There are also two types of entrepreneurs,” explains Foroux:  “One says: ‘Pick me! Buy my product! Please! I will do business with anyone.’ The other says: ‘I only create exceptional products/services for a specific group of people. If it’s not for you; no sweat.’

“Entrepreneur 1 creates commodities. The other entrepreneur creates products/services that are unmissable.”

To become like the second entrepreneurs, you need to, “Become so good that people depend on your goods or services. How? You guessed it again: Learn, practice, be great,” he writes.

4. Education Is The Only Life-Long Investment

According to Benjamin Franklin, “If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

The only possession you will never lose is knowledge, if you keep investing in it.  If you learn how to build a business, even if you lose it all, you will be able to start again and make the money back. In addition, “If you have a skill that people depend on, you will never be out of a job,” or lack for clients or customers if you’re self-employed.

Stay abreast of developments in your field. Read all the books and take all the courses you can that are relevant to your goals and aspirations. Spend much of your free time on learning and gaining new skills for professional development and career advancement.

Foroux says he spends most of his “Learning new things, going to new places, and meeting interesting people… It’s not easy. In fact, learning, studying, getting degrees, mastering skills, are all one of the hardest things in life.”

Invest in your HBR's 10 Must Reads self-education every single day. Prioritize learning over everything else in life.

See Darius Foroux’s blogs and reading list on his website.  One of the books he lists, On Managing Yourself, starts with a statement that sums up his philosophy, “The path to your professional success starts with a critical look in the mirror.” “This collection does not disappoint,” says Foroux. “Every piece will make you think more about your mission, vision, strengths, weaknesses, and how you can advance your career.”

“I actually prioritize education over food, relationships, health, clothes, and the other things of life. You know why? If I don’t, the other things are not as good. And it’s very simple. My goal is to read/learn/practice just 30 minutes a day. That’s not a lot to ask for, right? Because if you don’t have 30 minutes to spend on your education; what kind of life do you have?” concludes Foroux.

Education is crucial and we need to learn something new every day. Many people will start, but those who persist are the people who will truly advance in their lives and careers.

Find grants for education and professional development on GrantWatch. If you need help applying for a grant, the experienced grant writers on Grant Writer Team can help you.

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for Grant Writer Team and all Grant Watch websites.