These recommendations apply no matter where a person is in their grant writing career.
- Learn best practices for grant fundraising and apply them consistently to each new project and partners you work with. Ingrain good habits early, seek out training on a regular basis and conquer procrastination.
- Don’t sacrifice quality in grant applications or reports, and don’t chase money – even when you feel pressure from a deadline, leadership staff, board of directors, and/or a supervisor. Poorly planned projects lead to low-quality proposals (concept only, unclear budget and/or work plans, unwise expansion). These are a waste of time and success rates are generally under 20%.
- Help organizations and people to think strategically and sustainably about grants. Whether supporting programs, initiatives or general operations, grant funders have almost universally shifted to a model of better stewardship and greater accountability. However, some nonprofits haven’t caught up. Plus, it requires more internal resources (staffing, funds, time, attention) to write and manage grants well.
- Embrace research and revision. Knowing if a request is a good fit at the right time is what leads to grant awards. This only comes through careful reading and analysis (2-6 hours), with knowledge of the organization and funder’s priorities. And the best proposals are developed with 3-5 rounds of revision that includes several team members – a staff person who would implement the grant, management and development staff, and/or a board member or volunteer for fresh eyes.
- Avoid burnout. Learn to say no, set clear boundaries and reasonable expectations for the number and type of grants written each month, quarter and year. This applies to you, supervisors, colleagues and those you may supervise. Adrenaline goes a long way, and can become addicting, but it’s not a healthy way to do this (or any) complex work over the long term.