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
Few of us want to die anytime soon. But things happen. We have wills and trusts to protect family members. BUT…
What are you doing to keep your agency going if the unthinkable happens to you? Will you leave your agency in the lurch?
My most important tip of the day:
Keep you files backed up in a shared folder.
Your own computer and/or laptop won’t be accessible if it’s password protected, so you’ve got to protect your agency by keeping your files backed up in a way that someone else can continue your work without missing any deadlines (so to speak).
This is serious. If you care at all about your organization, and your cause, then you’ll back up to a shared file host today.
Every grant proposal needs two strongly written sections: a problem (your need) and a solution (your program). Ideally, your solution will be one that has strong research evidence to support its effectiveness with your intended client population.
Here, I am providing you with 6 sources of evidence-based programs that you can quickly search. If you choose a program from these databases, you’ll find it much easier to write the solution portion of your grant proposal because you’ll have knowledge about programs that work. The agencies that have developed these databases are letting you know what has been found to work to solve many different problems. Why would you use anything else?
Including evidence-based programs (EBPs) in your grant proposals may set you apart from your competitors. Funders look for proof that what you propose to do will work. There’s no better way to short-cut that process than by using the tools discussed here.
The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), located at www.nrepp.samhsa.gov bills itself as “a searchable online registry of over 350 substance abuse and mental health interventions”. New programs are added regularly. In the past month, 8 new programs have been added to the list, covering programs such as Brief Marijuana Dependence Counseling to Mindfulness-based Substance Abuse Treatment.
If you’re writing a grant related to criminal justice, juvenile justice, or victims services topics, the US Department of Justice has its own database of effective programs. It’s called www.CrimeSolutions.gov .
It is “a central, reliable resource to help you understand what works in justice-related programs and practices.”
The Office of Adolescent Health: HHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review
OAH provides a listing of programs with impacts on teen pregnancies or births, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or sexual activity. Updated in April 2016, it is located at http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/teen_pregnancy/db/tpp-searchable.html
Administration for Children and Families: Home Visiting, Evidence of Effectiveness
The ACH website reviews evidence of effectiveness for specific home visiting program models. Currently, there are over 40 models with evidence to support their effectiveness–even when they say evidence is lacking. The information relating to program outcomes is especially interesting. Find out how the programs impact Child development and school readiness; Child health; Family Economic Self-Sufficiency; Linkages and referrals; Maternal health; Positive parenting practices, Reductions in child maltreatment; and Reductions in juvenile delinquency, family violence, and crime. This is all available at http://homvee.acf.hhs.gov/outcomes.aspx
The National Council on Aging’s The Center for Healthy Aging
NCOA is a nongovernment agency and has only a few evidence-based programs in its listing. Still this is a promising start and the website also has information on what EBPs are and why they are important. This website is at https://www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/basics-of-evidence-based-programs/about-evidence-based-programs/
SIECUS: Sexuality Information and Education for Teens
Another nongovernmental organization providing a listing of evidence-based programs in its area of interest is the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Thirty-five programs primarily relating to teens and sexuality. Their website is http://siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageID=1484&nodeID=1
I’ve developed a super-useful checklist that you can download for just the price of your email address! “Check it out” here!