Grant Writing Tips

and Tricks

How to Write a Grant in Seven Steps - Part 2 of 3

Who doesn’t want to become a grant writing unicorn?  People think grant writers have mystical super powers. Let’s add the skill set to your quiver! In this three-part series, we distill the grant writing process into seven easy to follow steps. 

In case you missed the first post, you can access that here. 

Step 3. Host an Outstanding Kick-Off Meeting. A kick-off meeting is where we gather everyone involved in the project to plan for the grant preparation process. The amount of help you get is directly correlated to the success of your kick-off meeting. 

We will often bring cookies or provide lunch to express gratitude to the group for giving their time to help us prepare an application. If people feel appreciated and inspired by you, they will make your requests a priority. 

Prepare an agenda beforehand and email it at least one day in advance. Pictured here is an example of a meeting agenda. 

Sample Meeting Agenda

Date: Monday, December 3,...

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How to Write a Grant in Seven Steps - Part 1 of 3

Who doesn’t want to become a grant writing unicorn?  People think grant writers have mystical super powers. Let’s add the skill-set to your quiver! In this three-part series we distill the grant writing process into seven easy to follow steps. 

Step 1. Follow Your North Star (the Funding Guidelines). Funding guidelines are instructions from the funder on how to apply. They usually include information on the grant program, eligibility, narrative requirements, necessary attachments, etc. 

You can download the funding guidelines from the funding agency website. Once downloaded, print them so you have a hard copy to mark up. You will catch nuances in the guidelines that, for some reason, are difficult to catch when reading on a computer. 

Read the funding guidelines from beginning to end and then take a break. Go work on something else, stretch, pet your dog- whatever you do to maintain your energy. When you’re done, come back to the guidelines and...

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Book on How to Write a Grant! Become a Grant Writing Unicorn

book grant writing Sep 30, 2019

“Grant writing is overwhelming.”  

“I don’t know where to start.” 

Any of that sound familiar? We can relate! When first learning how to write grants, it may be tempting to go looking for dense books on everything there is to know. We learned this way that lots of information isn't always helpful.

This book takes a different approach. It is personable and easy to read. It shares stories of lessons learned the hard way and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

The book answers the most common questions received. It is a simple guide to get you underway immediately, even if you only read the first chapter! The book covers topics like:

  •       How to write a grant,
  •       How to write a convincing narrative,
  •       Where to find grants to go after,
  •       How to avoid running out of time when applying,
  •       Where to find match funding, and
  •    ...
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Must Do Math Before Writing a Grant

We were never particularly gifted at math, but basic math comes in handy as a grant writer! For every single grant we seriously consider, we insist on knowing the applicant success rate.

What’s that you ask? That is how many applicants were awarded funding out of the total number of applicants.

Why? Now you may say this isn’t a good indication of success since your proposal will be above average. That hopefully is true, but when you get into grants that award less than 10% of applicants, it doesn’t matter how good your application is – the odds are just working against you!

How do you calculate it? Divide the number of successful applicants by the total number of applicants. For example, if 80 grants were awarded and 400 applied, that equates to a 20% success rate (80/400=20%).

What if that info isn’t published? Ask the funding agency. This is a non-negotiable detail to have before deciding to write a grant. Some programs are so competitive less than...

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Don't Fear Grant Match Requirements!

One of the most common reasons we see communities not go after grant funding is because they are overwhelmed by match requirements. They say, “We can’t possibly apply because of the 50% match requirement!” Our response is hogwash. Finding match funding only requires thinking creatively and collaboratively.  Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Leverage past grants. We never apply for a grant that doesn’t help leverage securing another one.  What we mean by this is that when we’re preparing the first grant of several pursuits, making it clear in the narrative that awarding us funding will help secure the next grant. Your application becomes more compelling when you can show how a funding agency’s investment leverages additional dollars.

For instance, our team helped the Alaska Native Village of Huslia secure $550,000 from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for rural housing. We delayed construction for a year to leverage that...

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The Trick to Doubling Your Narrative - Letters of Support!

Last week, we shared our best party tricks on grant writing through two in-person workshops. The first one-day intensive was for community planners from Haines, to Denali Borough, to Nome as part of the Alaska Planning Association Conference. The second was a two-day course for Tribal Environmental Coordinators hosted by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. We had participation from Kassan on Prince of Wales Island, to Bethel, to Chickaloon. Between these two workshops, we had representation from almost every corner of the state!

One area that was not expected was so much discussion on the topic of letters of support. Below is a recap of key takeaways for collecting genuine, inspirational letters of support that can nudge your application ahead of the rest.

Step 1: Develop a Contact List. We provide a spreadsheet template in our online Grant Writing Class, but it’s something you can easily reproduce. Before you host your kick-off meeting, list any and all organizations that...

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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...

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What You Need Before You Start Applying for Grants

It can be tempting to jump into the grant writing process too soon. This can be especially true when we see a deadline nearing and think “it’s the perfect grant for us!” Before you pour hours into a pursuit, to only find out it wasn’t successful, we suggest having at very minimum the following planning complete:

  • A Problem Statement
  • Project Description
  • Rough Cost Estimate

A problem statement is a paragraph describing the problem or opportunity that urgently needs addressed. Make it clear what problem is being solved with your project? Just because you think it’s a good idea, doesn’t warrant it worthy of funding. In a few sentences give context to the project. How many people are affected? How is health or the environment impacted? Why does this matter? Here is an example:

“The only way to access the community of Rampart year-round is by small passenger air-carrier three times a week from Fairbanks for $190/roundtrip. The Rampart Airport is...

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Why I Decided to Develop Online Grant Writing Courses

grant writing Sep 25, 2018

After five years of grant writing in a fast-paced consulting environment, I vowed to never write another grant. I was the ultimate example of what burnout looks like.

When meeting new people, I would try and guise my past work. The moment someone finds out you are a grant writer, it’s game over! Everyone wants help finding money!

Despite my attempts to squash all inquiries for help with grant writing, I slowly started to realize that I do have something to give here. While I don’t want to be a full-time grant writer anymore, I like helping others develop the skill set.

This last Spring, I went to my family’s cattle ranch to help with calving season. Ranching allows for a lot of time to just think. It was here that I started to entertain the idea of developing an online grant writing training so others could become experts in the field.

I decided to go for it and started creating course content based on my in-person grant writing workshops. I thought I could have...

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