Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4 Ways to Become an Effective Grant Writer

Applying for grants is a skill. Just like any other skill, you must have at least basic knowledge in grant writing and then practice what you have learned again and again. Getting enough practice is easy since you can apply for any number of grants. It is a little more difficult getting that initial knowledge you need to become an effective grant writer.


The key to good grant writing is to fully understand the basic components of winning grant proposals. Then, you have to practice using that core knowledge until you get better and better at painting a picture of the problems your school has and convincing grant readers that you have viable solutions to those problems.

The first and most efficient way to become a good grant writer is to work side-by-side with someone who is already excellent at completing grant proposals. That way you have a personal trainer. You get to see first-hand how that person crafts each paragraph of the grant application and each line of the grant budget. Nothing will teach you faster than sitting by a patient master with the opportunity to ask questions and have every bit of your work reviewed as you complete it. If you have access to a master grant writer, do your very best to get that person to train you.

If you don’t have access to someone who can train you individually, you might want to consider taking a grant-writing course or seminar. These courses and workshops are offered at college campuses and at hotel sites. They can be fairly expensive especially if you have to travel. Be sure that that you get your money’s worth. Check the person’s credentials for teaching such a course. If someone is going to teach you the skill of completing successful grant proposals, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that person to have completed at least ten successful proposals of his/her own. If you are going to just get a presenter that teaches the course from a manual, you might as well do a self-study course. If you are paying tuition, you should be paying for the expertise and success of the presenter.

It has also become quite popular to take classes on the Internet. Once again, if you are going to try that approach, make sure the person running the grant-writing class is a successful and experienced grant writer. You might also want to speak by phone to someone who has already completed the Internet course to see how successful he/she has been in the real world of grant writing  since completing the course. These courses are very easy to find by simply using Google. Just type in “grant writing courses” and you’ll find a number of them listed in a variety of formats.

If you have to go the poor person’s route and you have little or no money to spend on formal classes, I recommend that you read a book such as mine: Write Successful Grants for Your School: A Step-by-Step Guide. Read slowly and internalize what you read. When you start to complete applications on your own, use the abundance of links that take you to sample applications that others have successfully completed. You should never copy anything from some other person’s application, but it certainly is helpful to look at several narratives and budgets from similar applications before you complete one on your own. A number of good grant-writing manuals are available. It is helpful, however, to stick to the ones that deal strictly with school grant proposals so that you get very specific information on completing those types of proposals.

If you are not already an experienced grant writer, you have four choices if you want to become a successful grant writer: 1) train side-by-side with an experienced mentor, 2) take a college course or a seminar with an experienced grant writer, 3) take an Internet course from an experienced grant writer, or 4) purchase a step-by-step guide to school grant writing, then read as many sample grants as possible as you complete your first few applications.

Remember, completing grant proposals the right way is a skill. First, get the basic knowledge that you need from a mentor, a live course, an Internet course, or a good manual, then you must practice, practice, practice until you fully develop your own skill as a grant writer.

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