8 Success Habits of Top Grant Writers

Do you have a brilliant idea for a new business or nonprofit but you’re not sure how to express it to funders? A grant writer can help you with planning and implementation. Grant writing is a skill that can be learned, in fact, many grant writers got their start by writing grants while working in a different capacity.

In fact, GrantWriterTeam founder and CEO, Libby Hikind, got her start in grant writing while working as a teacher for the New York City Department of Education. Other grant writers on the team have started out as teachers, principals, nonprofit staff members, social workers, and even as soldiers when asked to write a proposal as part of their job responsibilities.

It is said that if you do something long enough it becomes a habit and that our actions over time create our character, which in turn creates our destiny, as in the famous quote by Lao Tsu.

Habits can either help or hurt your success in life. Bad habits can fester and grow into a lifestyle that keeps you from accomplishing what you really want to in life. Good habits, on the other hand, help you take the actions needed to create a life filled with great results.

Here are 8 habits shared by successful grant writers to increase your chances of getting the grants you seek. 

1. The Early Bird Catches the “Grant”.

Successful grant writers begin well in advance of their submission deadlines. This could mean starting as much as nine months before the submission deadline to plan, identify the needs and research the focus of the proposal.  Since there are often many phases to a proposal prior to the final submission, it can be difficult to know ahead of time how long each phase will take. Therefore, cautious grant writers leave themselves enough time to get signatures from those who need to sign off on the proposal and send in the final draft before the deadline.

2. Make Sure You Have Your “Ducks in a Row”.

Grant writing is a highly specialized skill that requires attention to detail, precision, and the ability to be organized. A list in the attached article, Grant Writing – How To Apply for Grants and Write Effective Grant Proposals will help you with more ideas to help you get and stay organized.

3. Passionate, Compassionate, and Have the Desire to Make A Difference

Successful grant writers are passionate about the work they do and are committed to helping their clients get the funding they need to the best of their ability. Whether working on a proposal for a nonprofit or for-profit, most grant writers care about the projects they take on.

4. Cooperation and Collaboration

Grant writing requires cooperation and collaboration. It’s often a team effort between the grant writer, some field experts and the client.  If you’re fortunate enough to be working with a team, make sure all jobs are clearly defined and everyone knows their part in the process. If there are any deadlines they have to meet, the person in charge should be in touch with everyone in advance to make sure they have what they need to complete their tasks on time.

If you’re writing the grant alone, there are still elements for cooperation with people from the organization, or if you’re an outside consultant coming in to write the grant, it’s important that the director, staff, and board members involved are willing and able to provide the information you need in a timely fashion.

5. Preliminary Research and Preparation

Research and review the literature regarding the existing problem that the grant is expected to solve. Lay out the specifics on the current situation and what is working and what is not working regarding the issue. Once this is done, the need for the proposal and the request for funding becomes clear.

6. Offer Original, Creative, Innovative Solutions

In most cases, donors are looking for innovative approaches whether it’s to solve an existing problem or contribute to the advancement in the field. Innovative models that improve the field emerge from preliminary data, pilot studies, and extensive research.

7. Clarity and Simplicity

A grant proposal is like a business plan that’s well thought out, clear, and written in a way that’s easy for the reviewers to understand. When the grant writer fully comprehends the program the agency wants to implement, only then will the grant reviewer get a clear and easy-to-read application to review, resulting in a much better chance for funding.

8. Speak Their Language

Speaking the donor’s language, using the terminology and buzz words the funders use in their mission, vision, and grant offering materials is the way to write. Get comfortable with the culture of the topic and be able to navigate and speak their language seamlessly.  This will win the confidence of the reviewers by ensuring that the proposal addresses the issues they care about and meets the criteria for projects they are looking to fund.

Successful grant writers write for their audience. They know who will be reviewing the proposal and gear their writing toward the reviewers. In addition, it’s important to know the criteria used to score proposals.

In Conclusion

If this doesn’t describe you – yet, don’t fret, you can follow these behaviors and become more of an architect than a gardener, at least in your grant writing.  And, if you’re still not sure about your proposal writing skills or don’t have time to research or write a grant proposal yourself, hire an expert. Hiring a professional grant writer can increase the likelihood of receiving a grant exponentially.

Experienced grant writers from all backgrounds who have the talent to craft a compelling grant proposal are encouraged to sign-up on GrantWriterTeam.com, a service of GrantWatch.com. Joining GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, fill out the application and begin to bid on grant writing jobs

The great motivational leadership expert expressed it well in his bestselling classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”      – Stephen R. Covey

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWriterTeam.