What’s YOUR Grantwriting Origin Story?

(and how could you improve your skills now?)

Funded Number 1 in Technical New Releases_LI

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 richard@richardhoefer.com

Quick Tip for Grantwriters

What happens if you DIE tomorrow?

Die Tomorrow


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.

Do You Use These 6 Tools for Building Evidence-Based Programs?

Use these tools to get Evidence-based program ideas funders want to give money to!

Finding tools for Evidence Based Programs

Finding tools for Evidence Based Programs

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!


The #1 Mistake Grantwriters Make (that Loses Lots of Money!)

And 2 Ways You Can Prevent It!

What is the #1 Mistake Grantwriters Make?

The #1 Mistake Grantwriters Make

Every time I talk with grantwriters and grant-writers-in-training, it seems the same question gets asked:  “What’s the #1 mistake that grantwriters make?”

It’s an interesting question, for sure.  Every grant proposal that’s written probably has a number of things wrong with it but is there some underlying cause to all (or nearly all) of these proposal errors?  Is there, in essence, one mistake that leads to most of the other mistakes that are made?

I believe there is.  After having had contact with and learning from hundreds of grantwriters over the years, I believe the #1 mistake that grantwriters make is “not following directions”.

“Really?”, you’re thinking.  “That’s it?  After over 35 years of writing grants, that’s the best you can come up with?”

It does sound a bit trite.  What is it that gets drilled into us in school, from first grade on?  Follow directions!  But you know, it is easy to understand why this happens.

The typical Federal grant RFP is dozens of pages long, with large amounts of detail in each single-spaced page.  Some of this information is VITAL, while other information is “only” exceedingly important.  When I ask people to highlight the important information on a hard copy of their RFP, what I see often looks like the pages were printed on yellow paper, because almost every sentence has been covered with yellow highlighters.

Unfortunately, when EVERYTHING is important, it is easy to lose track of some of the finer details.  Information relating to what needs to be included in the proposal is often strewn across the RFP in different sections.  It doesn’t always get put together in the heads of grantwriters.

Another common reason that grant proposals don’t include everything needed is that when teams of people put the proposal together, it’s easy to overlook when something is left out.  Even more common is that information drafted by different authors isn’t reconciled and turns out to be contradictory.  For example, budgets and program plans may be revised separately and no one ensures agreement.

Time pressures add to the mistakes that are made.

Most grantwriters know the importance of organization, but even they can overlook enough of the explicit instructions to lose points due to making the number one mistake of grantwriters—not following directions.

While you might be tempted to think of these as separate reasons that grant proposals are not funded, the truth is that it’s all the same underlying reason.  It’s the mistake that “rules all other mistakes”.

Now that you know this is the most common mistake, and one that will certainly lose you points and cost you lots of money, you also know what you can do to solve it.  There’s one mandatory solution I recommend, and one voluntary practice that will pay off very well, despite having a cost to it.

Mandatory Solution

Create the “grantwriter-in-chief” for any particular proposal.  This person needs to know the RFP better than anyone else, and is responsible for ensuring that all directions are followed.  This person has ultimate authority for what is submitted (subject to CEO and board approval).  Obviously, this person should have considerable experience, if possible, but whoever it is, that person has to have the seniority and status to do this job, even if it means stepping on a few toes to get the proposal completed on time.

Voluntary Solution

Hire an outsider with considerable grant experience to read your proposal.  This person doesn’t even need to be an expert in your particular area (though that is nice).  What’s more important is that the person understands the logic of grantwriting, is willing to be critical, and can work quickly.

In case you don’t have anyone you can turn to for this service, you can contact me to see if I could be of service to your organization.

Want more points on your next grant application?

Be sure to have a great sustainability plan!

Grant applications at every level are placing more emphasis on what you plan to do to sustain the programs they are funding, once their contributions end.  Be sure to understand what sustainability planning is and how to show reviewers you are on top of the situation.

Here’s a short video from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services department of the US Department of Health and Human Services that will help you write a better plan for continuing your grant-funded programs when they (or any funder) stop their contributions.