Grant writing

5 Reasons Writing by Committee is a Terrible Practice

How many people does it take to write a grant proposal?

It's Time to Drop the Jargon

Have you ever gotten lost in a group discussion? It’s okay in a social setting where it’s possible to ask questions among peers, but in a one-way communication with customers, such as product landing pages and/or press releases, you need to eliminate all ambiguity.

Jargon is terminology unique to a specific subject. Only groups with a special interest in the topic will find the esoteric language enjoyable. For the rest of us, the insider terms are likely to come across as jibberish.

Grant Writing 101

Do you want to know the top three reasons grant seekers fail to land an award? First, the applicant's work does not match the funder's priorities. Second, the applicant does not follow directions about when and how to submit a proposal, and third, the applicant fails to communicate with the funder before and after the application process.

The reasons for these mistakes are as diverse as the organizations that make them. Based on my professional experience, here are a few guesses why the mistakes persist:

How to Hire a Grant Writer, Part 4

A grant writer's greatest weapon is her ability to persuade. It would be great if she only had to worry about communicating with a singular audience, but a good grant writer understands that philanthropy is a diverse landscape. The same message may not resonate with two consecutive listeners.

Consider the following interview questions:

How to Hire a Grant Writer, Part 3

What should an applicant know about your company or organization when they apply for the vacancy? Next to your public affairs department, a grant writer is your most vital spokesperson, and while a good candidate will memorize key facts about your organization from the job listing, an outstanding candidate will do their research to memorize more than a standard boilerplate.

How to Hire a Grant Writer, Part 2

A good grant writer should write well. That is so basic as to be insulting, but too many employers concentrate on other attributes of an applicant’s credentials that they forget that writing is the single most important skill for future success.

Let’s face it. In grant writing, the text is a writer’s tapestry, and although there are funders who are surprisingly forgiving about grammatical errors, the grant writer you hire should strive to put their best foot forward since the level of leniency will not be discovered until after the fact.

How to Hire a Grant Writer, Part 1

In the last post we passed along advice to job seekers on ways to evaluate nonprofit employers. Here we turn the tables to help nonprofits screen applicants to find the best finalists. For the purposes of this post we’re concentrating on grant writers, but a lot of the advice can be adjusted for other positions.

At minimum, a good grant writer should:

A Review of the Foundation Center's Grant Seeker Training Institute

Product and service reviews run rampant on the Internet. If only the same could be true of educational opportunities. When companies and nonprofits advertise educational seminars that cost more than $100, nonprofit staff ought to be able to read people's thoughts on whether the event was worth the expense.

How to Write a Letter of Inquiry

A letter of inquiry--also known as a letter of interest or concept paper--is a concise grant proposal, usually two to four pages long. Written in letterform, it is primarily targeted to foundations and corporations and can either be used as the sole decision mechanism or as a screening tool for full proposals. In either case, the writer faces the challenge of clear, concise writing.

Getting Started with Grant Writing

Before you sit down to write a grant proposal, please create a document roadmap using the following questions. They will help conceptualize your organization, the proposed project, and how they both relate to the funder's priorities. Be completely honest.


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