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.


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. 

Watch your thoughts: They become actions 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 then, and 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, a service of 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.

Do You Have a Power Word List To Use For Winning Grant Proposals


With over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone, how do you make your organization stand-out from the rest when applying for a grant? Our Grant Writer Team experts and our founder and CEO, Libby Hikind, recommends using powerful positive words to make your grant proposal be placed on the top. 

"Power words trigger emotional and psychological responses in readers. They can make the difference between funders wanting to support your organization or moving on and saying 'NEXT!'"  Hikind has written successful winning grants for over 25 years raising over 11 million dollars for one Brooklyn school district and a great deal more for private clients.  "Positive power words can motivate people to become supporters or funders of your nonprofit. I recommend also using the same buzz words or similar language used by the funding source in their grant application, but not to the point where it seems that you don't have anything original to say. It's important to use active verbs, definitive words, and words that paint a picture and tell a story."  

This list of power words and buzz phrases compiled by Belinda Biscoe for successful grant proposals published by the College of Continuing Education, South Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma, provides some great suggestions. 

Here's another list of some action verbs to use in grant proposals from 

Use the Right Words for Grant Proposals

Depending on the type of grant you're looking for, whether it's a research grant or a grant relating to early childhood education or funding for a homeless shelter, the recommended powerful word list you create may be different. 

Nonprofit Hub recommended these 10 Power Words for effective copy writing that increases conversion rates. Here is yet another list of some top power words that apply to grant writing. 

At the top of the list: 

Vision – Envision – Imagine – Just as for getting people to donate or buy products, using the word "imagine" brings people into your story. It instantly paints a picture and allows them to see the potential, possible results their support could create. It allows them to move past their rational mind and think in terms of how the kind of difference they can make to bring about a better world. 

Needs Assessment – TargetObjectives Goals – Grant makers want to know, who you are targeting. What is your target population or target audience? What is your target goal? 

Contribution – or Making a difference – funders want to make a difference. That's why they do what they do. They want to see that the money they're awarding has the maximum impact. Talk about the difference you make in real terms. Give examples of how their support will make a difference locally or globally. 

Community – Beverly D. Burgess the administrator for the Grant Writers of America group lists "community" as one of her top power words for the proposals she writes. 

Investment – One of the top concerns grant makers have is how their money will be used, whether it will make a difference, and whether the difference will be substantial. Using the term "investment" changes the way people feel about the money they contribute and the effect it has. It's not just a donation, it's an investment in the future of a community, a target group, or making the world a better place. 

You – Using the word "you" brings it home to people that they're involved. That we're all connected and adds responsibility for being part of "the change they want to see in the world," to quote Mahatma Gandhi. According to a study by Yale University's psychology department, using the word "you" instantly addresses the reader and gets their attention". It makes your request more personal, direct and compelling. 

Libby Hikind suggests starting your own powerful word list filled with positive action words you are comfortable with and keeping the one page at your fingertips for that moment in the writing process where you say, "I can't t think of that word." or " What's a better way to say that?" or I used that word a few times already – how can I say it better?"

If you are a grant writer, we have grant writing jobs for you. And if you are a grant seeker we have a place for you to request a grant writer for your grant proposal.

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for Grant Writer Team.

The Grant Writer and The NonProfit Organization

How does the grant writer fit into the nonprofit organization?

A grant writer is generally hired as a temporary freelance consultant when the current staff cannot effectively research, write and complete grant proposals while engaging in their current programmatic responsibilities.

We get calls all the time about hiring a grant writer as a regular employee or as a freelance consultant.  We built GrantWriterTeam to solve the dilemma for the nonprofit. Most nonprofits cannot afford an additional annual salary with payroll taxes and benefits for a full time grant writer.

 A request for a grant writer is issued and the bids for the job are brought before the Board, 

One nonprofit employee is assigned to the grant writer as the representative and liaison between the three branches of the nonprofit organization. This individual must have a passion for the work of the nonprofit, a clear understanding of the nonprofits operational procedures and access to the nonprofits corporate documents, and the programs and the need for funds, to take on this role.

Before attempting to apply for any grant be sure that the organization matches the eligibility requirement, as described in the grant application.  

What Happens If We Pay The Grant Writer And We Do Not Win The Grant?

The grant writer will prepare a well written document that can be easily tweaked or re-purposed and used in other grant applications. What's important is that your nonprofit's boilerplate pieces are well written and represent the history, governance, mission, vision, financial management, operational procedures and policies of the organization.  The grant writer should be able to guide the needs statement, programmatic plans, goals, objectives and evaluation and budget for the grant application.

One year the Ford Foundation received 144,000 letters of inquiry, e-mail requests, and actual proposals, but were only able to approve under 3,000.

By continuously working with the grant writer, the nonprofit leadership or staff member assigned, may get the-hands-on experience and training they need to continue the grant writing process for other similar applications.  

What Are The Three Branches of the Nonprofit Organization?

The Governance – leads the organization by administering the direction and guidance toward achievable goals and successful outcomes. Many decisions are governed by the board and the top tiers of management.

The Programs – Programs are the arms and legs of an organization. They take action to provide services, create resources, and strive toward accomplishing the organization's mission within the community.

The Central Administration – This includes the ballast of every organization: the office personnel and general staff who perform daily tasks to keep the organization operating smoothly.

What Are The Essential Roles Within the Nonprofit Organization

Board – This group governance serves to represent the organization and its community and clients. The board may also be held accountable for all policies and the strategic direction of its organization.

Board Chair – The Chair may appoint and coordinate committees, the executive director, and the board. This is also a position of leadership for the organization.

Committees –  They carry out the requests and operations of the board.

The Executive Director – This position is held responsible on all accounts of the organization, namely, the requests of the board, the committees' and staff's work, and much more.

The Staff and Volunteers – These roles are most important in building momentum for the organization within the community to achieve the organization's goals and mission. They generally support the committees and the executive director's requests.

To Read More About This Topic

Grant Writing | What the Pros Know: 50 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Writing My First Grant | Grants for NonprofitsNonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals, by Darian Rodriguez Heyman.

The second edition is available for pre-order with this link: 

Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals




About the Author: Staff Writer

Grant Funding for Transportation Infrastructure Projects – Now Flowing to Cities and States


Opportunities for infrastructure and transportation grants don't come along every day, so when they do, it's important to be ready to take advantage of them. These grant applications can be lengthy and time consuming. GrantWriterTeam can help you find an experienced grant writer with a proven track record of success. Click this link to Request a Grant Writer.

Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants were announced on Dec. 11 at an event at Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters. The department said it divided the funds among 91 projects in 49 states plus the District of Columbia. The only state to not receive a BUILD grant this year was Hawaii. BUILD grants are designed to stimulate stagnant infrastructure spending nationwide, the funding will also provide jobs and economic stimulus for all areas of the country.

The following article was reprinted from Strategic Partnerships, with permission of the author: Mary Scott Nabers. 

There’s new funding – $1.5 billion – now available to fund critical transportation projects.  Government officials are moving quickly to finalize plans and contracting solicitations should be rolled out soon.  More than 90 road, rail, transit and port projects planned in rural and urban areas of the United States will benefit from the new grant funds to support expanding and upgrading American infrastructure. These funds will offer financial support for projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia and will supplement existing or alternative financing for the projects.

Mary Scott Nabers bookInside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large, explores how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects. Nabers describes in detail the development of joint ventures that transfer risk and maintenance responsibility to private vendors under long-term contracts–with government retaining control and oversight.

The revenue is part of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Deployment (BUILD) grant program.  This program was once the very popular Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant program. The federal government encourages using these funds with a variety of other financing sources, including municipal bonds, public-private partnerships and/or alternative funding from other sources. 

Crumbling infrastructure continues to plague government officials. The funding needs for transportation projects are great, as evidenced by the fact that requests for funding totaled $10.9 billion.  That’s more than seven times the $1.5 billion that is available in the program.

Projects in rural areas received special dispensation. While urban areas must consolidate other funding with BUILD grants, public officials in rural areas can use this funding for up to 100 percent of the costs of a project. That’s good news for the 62 projects awarded grants in rural areas. Rural applications represented 59 percent of the total applications.

Approved projects include the construction or rehabilitation of more than 200 bridges nationwide, including $20 million toward a nearly $30 million rural project in California to widen a border port of entry. Restoration and rehabilitation of arches and their foundations on the Manhattan and Brooklyn approaches to the Brooklyn Bridge are part of a $337.6 million project that was awarded a $25 million BUILD grant.

Oregon’s International Port of Coos Bay plans to spend $25 million for improvements on approximately 15 bridges along its rail line.  The project will enhance safety and extend the life of the bridges. A $20 million BUILD grant was awarded to help fund the project.

The largest grants awarded were $25 million, with no more than $150 million awarded in any state. One $134.5 million project to complete a 4.8-mile, four-lane interstate facility in southwest Missouri that will bypass US-71 and connect to Interstate 49 in Arkansas got grant funding. The city of Spring Hill, Tennessee, will use a $25 million grant toward its $48.3 million construction of an interchange on I-65. South Carolina was awarded $25 million to help fund a $51.1 million freight rail infrastructure improvements project.

Texas dominated the field of grant recipients. The Lone Star State was awarded five BUILD grants totaling more than $104 million. With a goal of building a four-lane thoroughfare and improving two existing roads, the city of Haslet will use a $20 million grant to defray the costs of a $59 million rural project expected to relieve traffic congestion. Funding of $14.05 million was awarded to the Brazos Transit District to help pay for a $17.5 million project to replace more than 30 existing buses with diesel and zero-emission battery-electric buses.

In Maryland, grant funds totaling $6.5 million will help fund a $32.7 million public-private partnership project to add a second berth at the Seagirt Marine Terminal. Sioux City, Iowa, was awarded a $7 million grant to cover the entire cost of a project to design and build an operations and bus storage facility for the Siouxland Regional Transit System. More than 100 traffic signals statewide will be replaced or enhanced in South-Central Maine with a BUILD grant of $8.2 million paying for half of the $16.48 million cost of phase one of the project. Some of the signal systems will include features such as adaptive signal technology, dedicated short-range communications and infrared camera detection.

The city of Espanola, New Mexico, received a grant of $1.29 million to help fund a $6.1 million project to construct a maintenance facility, vehicle wash bay and fueling station for the North Central Regional Transit District.  And in Youngstown, Ohio, upgrading pedestrian safety is the goal of a $26 million project that will provide autonomous transit shuttles, transit waiting environments, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and LED lighting. This project was awarded a $10.8 million BUILD grant.

The positive impact of BUILD grants is undeniable. Designed to stimulate stagnant infrastructure spending nationwide, the funding will also provide jobs and economic stimulus for all areas of the country.

The new funding is a positive indicator of a busy year in 2019. 

About the Author: Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc. (SPI), a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S.