Being a grant writer is a skill to develop over time. It takes LOTS of practice and learning to read between the lines when the path ahead isn’t obvious.
Like all grant writers, you’ll win some; you’ll lose some. Every single time, win or lose, I learn something – and that’s invaluable. My writing’s gotten better each time.
There is one thing, though, that even the most AMAZING writers MUST DO in order to win a grant. You might be the best writer in the world, but you will NOT win a grant without this.
Wanna know what it is?
It’s pretty simple, really:
You MUST follow the directions.
Now before you go all judging and saying, “Well yeah duh, I learned that back in first grade,” hear me out.
The funders include a list of guidelines for each grant. This is a list of instructions detailing exactly how they want the application.
This can range from questions like, “List your program goals for the grant term,” to requirements like “12-point Times New Roman font.”
They’re not kidding, either.
When they get a stack of 500 appilcations on their desk (literal or virtual), they’re looking for excuses to weed out.
With some, like the big federal grants, this list of guidelines could be several pages long in the teeney-tiny tearfully boring fine print we all love to hate so much.
And you must read it without falling asleep, because just as sure as you don’t, they’ll slip in some obscure requirement like this:
If you miss that little bit and only submit one copy, you’re out.
Just like that.
It doesn’t matter that you stayed up til 3 am working to finish in time. It doesn’t matter that you have the most compelling need on the planet. It doesn’t matter that you’re still wearing last week’s socks because you haven’t stopped writing long enough to shower. They don’t take all that into account.
My pro grant writing tip:
- I print out the guidelines
- Then I take my trusty highlighter and make note of those important points for easy reference
- Before I submit the final application, I look through the guidelines one more time and make sure I covered EVERYthing. [It pays to not skip this step!]
While it sounds simple, this can make or break your application.
- Did you address all their questions?
- Did you include all the required extra paperwork and signatures?
- Did you do All the Things (aka follow the directions)?
Pay attention to the details. I know you can do it. After all, you learned how back in 1st grade. 😉
What are you working on now to help your cause?
I’d love to hear from you!
And if anything has you stuck, I’m here to help.