Published on September 6, 2017, at 03:38 p.m.
by Terrika Woods.
You just started working at your favorite nonprofit. You have joined the public relations team and are excited to start implementing your new ideas, but there is a plot twist.
The director of public relations has come and asked you to start applying for grants in order to implement a new program. There’s a problem: Grant writing wasn’t a class offered at your university and you’ve never applied for a grant. What do you do? Do you put in your two weeks’ notice on the first day? No, you take on the responsibility, breathe and then read this blog!
This type of job responsibility shift is completely normal, especially in a nonprofit. I once had a professor say, “The only way you get better at grant writing is to do grant writing.” The job can seem a little intimidating and tedious, but the reward of implementing a new program is amazing. I am going to give you three tips on how to grow in grant writing.
Talk to your director
Talk to your director about the direction of the program being initiated. You need to understand the reason for implementation, how the program will be implemented and the desired results. This initial research will be vital when drafting the proposal.
Also, talk to your director about previous grants that your organization has applied to. Find out if any grants were received and the amount. This can help you see which foundations you need to target or avoid.
Plan out your time
You have found the perfect grant and the first cycle deadline is three months away, so start planning now. Brainstorm effective ways to implement your program. You want to make sure that your program doesn’t come off as simple or unattainable. Set enough time aside to not only complete your application within the timeframe, but also to make sure that you answer all possible questions within your proposal.
Research, reach out and read
Research grants that you fit your program. You don’t want to apply for a grant that would (hypothetically) cause you to change your organization’s mission.
Reach out to the foundation you are applying to and see exactly what it is looking for. Ask as many questions as you can to make sure that the grant is the best fit for your organization.
Read up on common mistakes that grant writers make. This can help you to avoid going back and forth with your prospective foundation. The Balance (link) has great articles on everything grant-related. It provides advice for every step of the application.
For some people grant writing comes naturally, and for others it takes practice. Don’t get discouraged if your grant gets rejected — just try again. Lastly, become interested in your program. The more interested you are, the more thought and passion you will put into grant applications. Remember, whatever responsibility you are given, exceed all expectations!