Grant Writing and Storytelling

Click on the image to read MindMesiter's "6 Tips to Improve Your Creativity."

This article was originally a post under, “Recent Thoughts” (2015). The content is noteworthy and timely; I decided to make it a primary page.

I continue to meet nonprofit executive directors and development professionals who insist one must be creative when writing a grant proposal in order to grab the attention of the potential donor and to secure funding.

This, compounded with a flood of advice provided online by communications experts –¬†sometimes misconstrued to apply also to grant writing –¬†means there is a disconnect with reality. Yes, storytelling is an important aspect of nonprofit communications, but use it sparingly when it comes to writing grants.

A well-regarded grant professional I know in Texas once remarked when we discussed this quandary,

“Give me the facts. Get to the point. I have to read hundreds of grant proposals. If I cannot understand what you need and why, and fairly quickly, I will turn my attention¬†to the next proposal.”

One of the earliest articles on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog, “Grant Writing: A Reality Check,” is also one of my most read. And while I heartily endorse securing formal grant writing training (as I have done), my mantra in the article is that one must follow instructions, but at the same time,¬†be flexible.

This is not the case with government grant writing, of course, but it certainly is when it comes to writing grants for private sector funders. The latter can throw you a “curve ball,” as they say. Listen and respond as requested, rather than simply following the preset format you learned during a grant writing seminar. After all, you are approaching a unique individual, family, foundation or corporation for funding. You¬†must¬†respect their inquiries and the way in which they prefer to receive information.

I wanted to share a few links I recently discovered that might be of help to grant writers reading this post. There is excellent advice to be found therein.

And then I enjoyed a somewhat unusual resource, an article by Catherine Clifford for Entrepreneur, “8 Writing Strategies for People Who Say They Can’t Write” (April, 2014).

“When you sit down to write a business pitch, a grant proposal or a speech, be sure that you have done your research and know precisely what you mean to communicate. If you’re struggling to write, it may be a sign that you are confused about what you want to say.¬†Condense the main nugget of what you are trying to say into just a short phrase or sentence and you’ll have a better shot at composing a tight, organized piece.”

Last but not least,¬†I first began Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog, a number of email inquiries I received concerned how to clear¬†one’s mind in preparation for writing, how to focus and the like.¬†If you are concerned about that, follow this link to, “Dealing With Stress.”¬†Sometimes the proper mental framework can make a world of difference.

If you have more questions about grant writing, use the secure contact form on this blog to reach me.

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