Make 2017 Your Best Grant Writing Year Yet

There is something refreshing and energizing about starting a new year. Now, I’m not a big “resolutions” guy, but I do like the idea of taking some time to re-establish priorities to make sure I have my focus clearly set on the right things.

Too many grant writers just let things happen, they spend their entire year chasing grant opportunities, and aren’t strategic when it comes to how and where they will pursue funding dollars, which applications they will complete and submit, and how much money they even need to generate for their organization. That’s a pretty stressful way to work.

Let’s take a look at some tangible ideas you can implement right now in order to be prepared and calculated in the way you and your organization moves forward with your grant writing in this new year.

Here are two ways to set yourself up for grant writing success in 2017:

1. Gather Stories Of Organizational Impact

Powerful and persuasive stories of impact are an important element of any successful grant proposal. Funders desperately want to know that your organization is capable of operating projects and programs of significance. Unfortunately, what grant writers often do is wait until they are in the midst of an application to try and gather up these powerful stories, or better yet (read this with dripping sarcasm), they cut and paste a story of impact from a previous grant proposal…a story that is five years old…but, it’s a really, really good story.

Don’t wait too long. Put a plan in place as soon as possible to reach out to your team to ask for feedback. The more persuasive stories, statistics, and anecdotes you have in your arsenal, the better.

Here are a few ways to go about gathering these stories:

A. In Person – Book some time with your colleagues to ask questions about last year. Ask them to “tell you about a time…” – a moment when they were surprised, when there was a turning point for a client, or when they felt most connected to their work. Just let them talk while you listen and record their stories of success and impact.

B. In Writing – Send an email to your stakeholders and ask them to write about an account (or two) of something important or life-changing that happened to someone because of the work of the organization. Ask them to briefly outline the problem or conflict, the solution that was offered, and the resulting outcome. Even something written in point form will help you greatly when the time comes to include these stories of impact in grant proposals.

C. On Video – Not everyone feels comfortable on video, but for those who do, this can be an easy way for one to tell a story or two about a moment that made a difference. Encourage the storyteller to determine the last line of their story before they hit the record button and tell them they have three minutes to share. You don’t need a 15 minute video that covers way too much content. Less is more with video.

2. Set Grant Writing Goals For The Year

Most of us understand the importance and value of goal setting. Many of us understand the need to be specific in the setting of our goals to ensure they are realized. In talking to many grant writers over the years, it is amazing though how many don’t take the time to set specific targets and general direction for their organization.

So what could your goals look like for 2017? Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Develop a realistic work plan and timeline for each grant, and stick to the plan. In our blog post, “Two Simple and Strategic Ways To Become a Grant Writing Superstar” we have a FREE detailed work plan template. Download it and set a goal to put together a work plan with each grant writing proposal.
  • Read and research at least one grant writing sample each week to get a better sense of what other writers are doing to be successful.
  • Build relationships with three new funders this year. It may take some initial research, but you won’t regret getting to know them and having the opportunity to share your organization’s work.
  • Develop a connection with at least two new grant writers. This process will help your professional development and may even lead to some potential collaborative opportunities.
  • Take time to review past grants, specifically ones that didn’t get funded. Is there anything you can learn from your previous grants?
  • Read the GranstEdge Blog regularly. We’re here to help and want nothing more than to know you have found success in your grant writing.

Setting Financial Goals

When setting goals for grant writing, many will also set a financial goal, which is a smart idea. When doing so, be careful not to just set the goal based on your revenue needs alone. You may want to have a greater understanding for the fundraising landscape in general and the potential that exists for funding opportunities. Just because you need $650,000, doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense to set your grant writing goal for that amount. You may need to generate revenue in different ways. Be sure to get a list of realistic funding prospects with reasonable asking levels.

You may decide to set a number of other goals, but hopefully these examples will be enough to get you started.

Now What?

It’s time to put theory into action. It’s time for you to hit the reset button and prepare for the year to come.

How can you begin to implement these two concepts next week?