9 Ways Food Network Challenges Mirror the Grant Writing Process, Grant Writing Simplified with Teresa Huff, Episode 140

9 Ways Food Network Challenges Mirror the Grant Writing Process [Episode 140]

"We need to know our vision first, before a grant ever even comes along. Know your big vision for your organization and your purpose for looking for grants in the first place."

ROI for Foodies

I enjoy watching some of the Food Network challenges because it’s fun to discover new baking ideas. While watching an episode last week, I noticed another reason the competitions are so much fun to watch.

Grant writers and Food Network competitors go through a similar process in hopes of winning money. To win the prize, we all have to show the judges how they will get a Return on Investment – or in the case of nonprofits, a Return on Impact – by investing in us.

In my TEDx talk, I explain how the key to writing a winning grant is to show the grant funder the Return on Impact (ROI) they’ll get. Funders aren’t looking for a return on investment like a for-profit business. Instead, grantmakers want to give grants to organizations they know will make an impact on the community, just like the judges on the Food Network want to invest in chefs that will contribute to the baking community and represent the Food Network well.

9 Ways Food Network Challenges are Like Grant Writing:

  1. The judges provide clear instructions and a goal before the competition begins.
  2. The competitors can be creative, but they still have to stay within defined parameters.
  3. The competitors have to make a reduction to eliminate any fluff or distractions. (Check out Episode 16 for examples of how to do this in grant writing!)
  4. The challenge always includes a tight deadline, so competitors have to practice and be prepared to thrive under pressure.
  5. Competitors must adapt quickly when mistakes and unexpected hurdles occur.
  6. Judges love a good story, as long as it is relevant and concise.
  7. Participants must present a complete, finished product.
  8. Most competitors won’t win the prize, but they don’t give up on their dream.
  9. Before the participants do anything, they sketch out their vision and devise a strategy to transform that dream to reality.

Many competitors skip the vision and strategy and go straight for writing the grant, but this should actually be the first thing both grant writers and Food Network competitors do. Without a vision and goal, there’s no direction, only chaos and confusion.


Your ROI isn’t just a formula for how to position the grant for funders. It’s also a vision for your organization. It’s your nonprofit’s lighthouse. The return you want to give your funders is the same as the impact you want to have on your community, it’s the reason you do this work every day; it’s what keeps you anchored so you don’t drift from your mission.

To learn more about how the Food Network competitions can help you write better grants and about the amazing resources I’m creating to help you, listen to the full podcast, Episode 140: 9 Ways Food Network Challenges are Like Grant Writing.

Challenge Question:

Which Food Network lesson do you need to implement or improve upon in your work?

Resources Mentioned:

Find out about how to give nonprofits the ROI they are looking for in my TEDx Talk on YouTube and share it with your colleagues!

If you need help, book a 1:1 strategy session with me at teresahuff.com/mentor. The world needs you out there making a difference!

Connect with me over on LinkedIn or send me a message. And if you need more support, join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer already and let’s get you moving!

Free Audit: How Grant-Ready Is Your Nonprofit?

Are you feeling overwhelmed with trying to help your nonprofit apply for grants? Go through the free audit and I’ll help you sort out the next steps for your organization.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Grant Writer? Take the Quiz:

If you’re ready to explore a career in grant writing, take my free quiz, “Do you have what it takes to be a grant writer?” People are always surprised at how many skills they already have. The distance isn’t as far as they thought. Let’s figure out how you can use your skills to help change your world.

If you’re ready to step up your nonprofit game in 2023, join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer. The world needs you.

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