Seven Steps to Focus on the Art and Science of Grant Writing

June 11, 2018

By Jennifer Wilson

“Seven Steps to Focus on the Art and the Science

(…and because a lot of organizations do better with the art, I’m going to focus 6 out of 7 steps on the science.)

  1. Curate personal stories. Every organization and every individual that is served by the organization has a story. Take the time to tell these stories well. Generate content that comes from the end-user. Evoke emotion and articulate the broader social impact of your work.
  2. Showcase the organization’s track record of success. Simply put, you need to convey the organization’s ability to get the job done. Detail examples of how your program has grown, how the impact has increased, or how you focus on continual quality improvement.
  3. Communicate existing capacity. Cite organizational tools and knowledge assets that impact your ability to carry out the work. Perhaps you have an evaluations department or a project management office that will support the proposed initiative, or maybe you use a Social Return on Investment tool.
  4. Develop a well-thought-out plan. The most common thing I see when working with organizations is great intentions, a clear vision, wonderful staff—and no plan. You need to articulate a plan. If the initiative that you’re seeking funding for is adaptive/agile (it will take shape as it unfolds), you still need a plan for how you will manage its adaptability. No one will grant you money without having confidence in your ability to translate a vision into a plan and then operationalize it.
  5. Leverage partnerships to optimize outcomes. This is about doing more with less and makes organizations stand out. If you can serve more people with a higher impact because you understand the value of collaboration and partnership, then your future is bright. Partnerships are becoming increasingly important to all types of grant makers.
  6. Evaluate. Saying you will “evaluate” the initiative is not enough. How will you evaluate? What will you evaluate? Will you determine core objectives and success criteria at the outset? Will you collect quantitative data such as the number of people served or qualitative data such as end-user testimonials, or both? Research, plan and implement evaluative tools.
  7. Articulate a comprehensive approach in a clear and concise way. This comes down to the quality of format, structure, and writing. Take your time and leverage team members with strong written communication skills. “