Grant Writing Tips

and Tricks

Grant Budgeting When You're Not a 'Numbers Person'

If you’re a grant writer, you probably prefer words over numbers. When it comes time to develop a project budget, you would hope someone more technical would take lead, but unfortunately this task usually falls on your shoulders. Don’t despair! In this post, we will give you an example of how to develop a project budget in just a week.  

The Native Village of Tetlin in Alaska was pursuing an Indian Community Development Block Grant for housing rehabilitation. To develop the project scope and budget, we first needed to assess what work needed to be done. To do this, the 1st Chief and Grant Writer, Patricia Young, went door to door over two days to conduct housing assessment interviews. 

Think you’re not qualified to do a housing assessment? Think again! Patricia has no experience with housing, but she thoughtfully developed a two-page assessment that provided the exact information needed to develop a project scope and budget. After she developed the...

Continue Reading...

Launching a New Grant Pursuit! Tips for Your Next Kick-Off

Even as an experienced grant writer, getting started with a new grant application can be overwhelming. In this post, I share how I structured a kick-off meeting for a new project and grant pursuit with the Native Village of Tetlin (Alaska).  

Prep Work: Read the funding guidelines and prep a meeting agenda

To prepare for the kick-off meeting, I read the funding guidelines. As I had questions, I typed those into the meeting agenda for discussion later. I also listed the required attachments and assigned different team members to each. I then included a mini grant narrative skeleton (described in the free mini course here), to understand where we have information gaps and to assign responsibilities. The entire process of reading the funding guidelines and preparing a kick-off agenda took about 1.5 hours.

Host Kick-Off Meeting

I use Zoom video conferencing to host meetings. For this project, our team spreads from Anchorage and Tok Alaska to Paraguay! Despite our geographic...

Continue Reading...

Applying Design Thinking to Community Negotiations

This week I was in Koyukuk, Alaska helping the tribe and city agree on how to best share the responsibilities of maintaining their road system. We also worked on rebooting plans for a new community hall. To facilitate these discussions, I borrowed exercises from IBM’s Design Thinking. The process was 10x richer than a traditional public meeting and gave clear direction on where to focus.  


We were going to kick off the transportation planning meeting with a Hopes and Fears exercise, but delicious snacks and socializing took a bit longer than planned. It’s still my all-time favorite way to start a meeting with a new group of people, however, and here’s why:

  • Helps the facilitator tailor the rest of the session to address the hopes and fears raised.
  • If fears are persisting as the project evolves, then I know what to focus on to address those underlying issues.
  • It helps everyone get comfortable being transparent and open with each other, and...
Continue Reading...

Koyukuk Next Week! Community Hall & Transportation Agreements

Next week I go to Koyukuk, Alaska to help city and tribal staff advance their priority community projects. I’m really looking forward to it and hopeful that I’ll get to see the northern lights!

Koyukuk (pronounce KOY-yuh-kuck), is a community of around 100 people on the Yukon River about 300 air miles west of Fairbanks. I’ll be taking a small plane from Fairbanks to get there and it should take about three hours. It’s also November, so I’ll be packing plenty of warm layers!

Like many rural Alaska Native communities (and frankly all communities!), Koyukuk has limited resources to provide basic services. One of the main challenges they face is upkeep of the existing road system. They have about three miles of road in the community with many more trails during the winter connecting Koyukuk to nearby villages.

As you can imagine, keeping roads in good condition is a significant challenge in a place that experiences severe flooding and drastic temperature...

Continue Reading...

50% Complete