Do you ever get asked “If you were starting over, what would you do differently in your career?”
As a professor teaching grantwriting, my students ask me this question every semester. This is what I say.
You may know my story—I was an intern. On my first day, a Monday, I was given an envelope full of material. My supervisor told me that there was information on a request for proposals in that envelope. AND that the proposal had to be ready to be overnight mailed by noon on Thursday!
Since I had no idea what to do, having never taken a class on writing grants, I panicked and asked who was going to guide me. “No one. It’s up to you! So, you better get started!”
You can bet that I wished I had some training, any training, at that point.
My experiences of “trial-by-fire” and “brutal reviews” eventually led me to becoming good at writing grants. In fact, by the time my internship was over, we’d received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, and I was hired as full time grantwriter for that organization. Before I moved on, half a year later,I’d raised over a million dollars, which wasn’t too shabby for a self-taught 24-year old!
Because of my experience, I vowed that, someday, I’d create a better way for new grantwriters to learn the skills.
And I’ve accomplished my vow: Oxford University Press has just released my new book, Funded! Successful Grantwriting for Your Nonprofit, which is available from them directly or from Amazon.com.
In addition, I’ve taken all the information that I teach in a graduate level course on grantwriting, and put it in an online course that anyone can take. You can learn more about it by going to the link in the comments below.
Get training! That’s how I would change the start of my grantwriting career—thorough, comprehensive, and detailed training. And that’s how YOU should start off your grantwriting career!
What’s YOUR grantwriting origins story? How did you decide to become a grant writer?
For some people, becoming a grantwriter was something thrust upon them—their employer needed a grant written, and they were asked to help out, or really just given the task. They are often ill-prepared and anxious. Once they’ve written one grant, more are sent their way. These are the people who desperately need training. Far too often, though, that training is an afternoon in a dreary hotel conference room where the most elementary items are mentioned, but people are pretty much left on their own afterwards.
For others, though, like my former student Elizabeth, beoming a grantwriter is a well-thought-out and conscious goal. She worked hard in class, learned a great deal, and then applied for grantwriting jobs in nonprofits. When she was hired, it was the culmination of a long-held career plan. These people are generally well-trained and excited to do this type of work, knowing how important it is. This group of experienced writers usually feel like they are good enough and don’t need additional training, which is most likely true: they know the basics and have figured out some of the advanced items through trial and error. What this group of people could use, though, is someone to look over their work, NOW and THEN, to bounce ideas off of, and to get a fresh pair of eyes on their proposals before they’re turned in.
I’ve got a new online training course based on my newly released book, Funded! Successful Grantwriting for Your Nonprofit. You can work through the material in the comfort of your home or office, at your own speed. It takes you from assessing your strengths and areas where improvement would be helpful, to finding funders, all the way to submitting the proposal.
Check out everything that’s included in the course by clicking here
You can contact me directly to talk about the benefits of one-on-one coaching and mentoring by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org