Learning to write grants is a critical skill for every nonprofit Executive Director. If you are new
to grant writing, you can search for grants from foundations or government agencies and then try to tackle it yourself, or you can build a team. Utilizing a team enables you to strengthen your organizational capacity while you secure funding. If you decide to utilize a team, there are some critical roles to fill from your staff or a team of dedicated volunteers.
So where do you start?
1. Pull together the team - You want to pull together 5 critical roles: lead, writer, researcher,
financial, and reviewer. An ideal team is between 5-7 people, depending on the size of the
grant. If it is a small grant of less than 10 pages, two or three people can easily accomplish
the task, but if it is 20-30 pages- you will need a team of 5-7 people.
2. Prior to the first meeting – disseminate the Request for Proposal (RFP) to the members of the
team. Require every member of the team to read the RFP 3 times. This is imperative for
larger grants and equally important for those smaller grants.
3. First Meeting – There are 6 questions to ask for every grant:
How much money is available?
When is the grant due?
Who else in the community is potentially going after the proposal?
Do we have the capacity to do the work if we get the grant?
Most importantly, does it fit within the mission of the organization.
What roles will the team members play?
Writer – The heart of grant writing is writing. One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Batterson- “Writing is praying with a keyboard.” Finding those that are gifted writers is essential. If you have a couple of great writers, assign different parts of the grant. Once you have a draft of the document- have one person finalize the grant so there is one tone and voice to the grant.
Lead – The Lead is responsible for making sure all of the pieces of the grant come together. Wherever possible, they support the team in achieving their assignments. Developing a checklist of all of the required elements is the role of the Lead. Most important is making sure the internal deadline is accomplished.
Researcher – The role of a researcher is to gather demographic information, examples of evidence-based practice and other critical components. A good researcher has the ability to a capture complex issue and summarize it in writing.
Financial – Building a budget that fits within the guidelines of the grant and the agency is an important role. This includes not only completing required forms, but writing a budget narrative that explains expenditures.
Reviewer – As a draft is circulated, make sure that the checklist developed by the Lead is completed. All of the components have to be in the grant as well as ensuring that the grant is reviewed for good grammar.
Once you have completed a couple of grants, developing a file for your organizational
description, a logic model and a geographic narrative will make it easier next time.
Writing grants can be a daunting task but you don’t have to do it alone. Build a team.
If you need further help Simon Cross can help you by training and leading your team on a
project, writing a grant or editing a grant.