Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writing Grants, It Does Get Easier

Most of the folks who read this blog are not professional grant writers. I know that because they email me with questions and comments. I also know that it is very difficult to apply for your first grant or two.

Everyone tells you just to jump in with both feet, but you don’t want to break your legs if the pool is not deep enough, and you don’t want to go in over your head and drown. Writing for me is a painful process. The same is true when I’m applying for grants, and I’ve done it for years. Fortunately, it does get easier each time you apply for a grant.

I recommend two things to make the process easier. First, choose a grant that matches closely with your needs. The closer the match, the easier it is to fill out the application. You’re not trying to force anything. Use the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply to match your needs with the right grant.

Second, choose a nice little foundation grant if you can that requires a short application or letter to apply. Don’t go after a large state or federal grant. The application process is usually long and tedious on state and federal grants, and it is likely to overwhelm you.

Lay out your application as I recommended in my last post. Yes, it’s difficult to say what you want to say exactly the way you want to say it. Just get something on paper first, and then go back and edit and rewrite it. Don’t agonize over the application. Get something written, rewrite it, and then, if at all possible, get one or two people to review it for you.

Now, here’s the good part. Once you have completed one grant application, every application you write after that one gets easier and easier. There are a couple of reasons for that. One, you’ve broken through the mental block of completing a new and challenging task for the first time. Two, you will use large sections of what you wrote in your first application on your second, third, and fourth grant applications. You can’t just copy and send the same application to multiple foundations (really bad idea), but you can lift many sections and ideas out of that first application and use it in other applications. It makes the task of grant writing much easier.

If you still think you might have trouble getting started with your first application, I recommend looking at some sample grant applications provided at these two sites:

http://www.schoolfundingcenter.com
http://www.schoolgrants.org

Look in the menu bar for sample grants or sample proposals. With that additional help, you should be able to complete your first application without too much anguish.

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