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Ten grant-writing resolutions for the new year


Follow these 10 resolutions for 2011, and you'll find more grant-writing success.

As one year ends and another begins, I always think it’s a good idea to go back and review the basics of grant writing and develop some resolutions around them.

Through the course of the year, as deadlines pile up and grant writing reaches a fever pitch at times, don’t forget to sit back, relax, and remember these resolutions—and you’ll be sure to find more grant-writing success. (I promise, none of them have anything to do with losing weight or exercising!)

1. Resolve to read at least one book about grant writing this year.

I have to admit that I don’t make it a habit of doing this (usually owing to a lack of time), but I bought a book at the end of last year and started to read it … and I realized there was some helpful information for me, so I’m going to finish reading it this year.

There are several books available that deal with grant writing, so have fun choosing one! A few I’d recommend: Storytelling for Grantseekers by Cheryl A. Clarke; Grantseeker’s Toolkit and Grantseeker’s Budget Toolkit by Cheryl Carter New and James Aaron Quick; and my own books, Writing Grant Proposals that Win, Third Edition and Effective Grants Management.

More grant-seeking advice from Deborah Ward:

Where to find grants for education

How to find private sources of funding

Advance planning is the single biggest key to grant-seeking success

A strong budget narrative can help sell your proposal

Death of a grant proposal: Six lessons learned in post-mortem

2. Resolve to attend one conference or webinar about grant writing this year.

This one I actually did carry out last year by attending some webinars, but there were a couple of conferences that I missed, so I’m going to plan to attend one this year.

3. Resolve to plan ahead.

Those of you who regularly read my columns won’t surprised to see this resolution. I find that the one way to minimize stress in this field is to plan ahead as much as possible for the grants I’ll have to write in the next 12 months. I prefer to keep those last-minute “surprise” proposals to a minimum!

4. Resolve to create a grants calendar.

If you take resolution No. 3 seriously, this resolution is a natural follow-up. Again, I find it helpful to look ahead at the entire year to get a sense of what grants I’ll be working on—and when.

5. Resolve to request a copy of reviewers’ comments and resubmit one rejected proposal.

I would bet that every grant writer can name at least one proposal they submitted and then resubmitted, only to be funded the second time around. One of the tips to doing this is to read the reviewers’ comments and determine how to improve your proposal, which can increase your chances of getting funded when you resubmit it.

More grant-seeking advice from Deborah Ward:

Where to find grants for education

How to find private sources of funding

Advance planning is the single biggest key to grant-seeking success

A strong budget narrative can help sell your proposal

Death of a grant proposal: Six lessons learned in post-mortem

6. Resolve to become a grant reviewer for one grant competition.

I don’t think it really matters whether you review proposals for a local grant competition (for the United Way, for example) or for a state or federal grant; either way, the process of serving as a reviewer is an educational one. Pay attention to what types of projects are proposed, how others put their grant proposals together, and how reviewers react to what is included in the proposals.

7. Resolve to find one grants professional you can “buddy” with to share successes—and failures.

Only those of us who are in the field can truly appreciate the exhilaration you feel when you are funded, and the feelings of sadness and frustration when you are not! I have been very lucky over the years to have a friend who is my best “buddy,” and her words of support and encouragement have surely helped me be the grants professional I am today.

8. Resolve to submit at least one grant proposal three to five days before the deadline.

I heard this from a speaker once, and I have tried very hard to make this happen. Sometimes it does—and sometimes it doesn’t. But I still think it’s a great goal to have!

9. Resolve to read at least three funded proposals written by other grants professionals.

This is related to No. 6. I learn quite a bit from reading other proposals, and at different points in time I have incorporated formatting techniques that others have used to make proposals more “user friendly.” It is also an excellent way to see the writing skills of other professionals and get a real sense of whom you might be competing against.

10. If none exist, resolve to develop grant-writing policies and procedures in your district.

This one is a must, I think, if you expect people to treat your role as a grants professional with the respect and admiration it deserves. Having policies and procedures also helps your staff understand what they need to do to apply for, receive, and manage grants successfully.

If you have additional resolutions to share, send me an eMail message (debor21727@aol.com) and I’ll include them in an upcoming column. And good luck this year!

(Editor’s note: For the very best of Deb Ward’s grant-writing advice for eSchool News, check out “Grant Seeking Advice You Can Take to the Bank: Proven strategies that every school leader should know.”)

More grant-seeking advice from Deborah Ward:

Where to find grants for education

How to find private sources of funding

Advance planning is the single biggest key to grant-seeking success

A strong budget narrative can help sell your proposal

Death of a grant proposal: Six lessons learned in post-mortem

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