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Deb Ward

About Deb

Ten New Year's Resolutions for Grantwriters

As one year ends and another begins, I always think it is a good idea to go back and review the basics of grantsmanship and develop some resolutions around them. Through the course of the year, as deadlines pile up and writing reaches a fever pitch at times, it is easy to forget these resolutions. As with all resolutions, I recommend that you keep them handy and review them on a regular basis to see how you are doing!

Here are my ten suggested resolutions for 2014. I recommend them for both experienced grants professionals and for those who are new to the field.

  1. Resolve to read at least one book about grantsmanship. There are many books available now that deal with aspects of grantsmanship written by professionals who have a lot of great information to share. Check out CharityChannel Press and put one on your holiday wish list!

  2. Resolve to attend one conference or webinar about grants. The grantsmanship field is changing and the best way to keep current is to attend webinars and/or conferences to hear the latest buzz or learn new skills. In addition to this, conferences also provide excellent opportunities to network with other grant professionals, a key to being a successful grants professional.

  3. Resolve to plan ahead. As a grants professional, I find that the best way to minimize my stress is to plan ahead as much as possible for the grants I will have to write in the next twelve months. I prefer to keep those last minute “surprise” proposals to a minimum!

  4. Resolve to create a grants calendar. If you take resolution #3 seriously, this resolution is a natural follow-up. Again, I love looking at the entire year and having a sense of what grants I’ll be working on and when during the year I’ll be doing that work.

  5. Resolve to request a copy of reviewers’ comments and resubmit one rejected proposal. I would bet that every grants professional can name at least one grant proposal they submitted and then resubmitted only to be funded. One of the tips to doing this is to read the reviewers’ comments, have a conversation with a program officer, determine how to improve your proposal, and increase your chances of getting funded by resubmitting.

  6. Resolve to become a grant reviewer for one grant competition. I don’t think it matters whether you review a local grant (for the United Way, for example) or a state or federal grant, the process of serving as a reviewer is an educational one that will make you a better grants professional. Pay attention to what types of projects are proposed, how others put their 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 we feel when we are funded, and the feelings of sadness and frustration when we are not! I have been very lucky over the years to have a friend who is also a grants professional. She is my best “grants buddy” and her words of support and encouragement when I’m disappointed and her joy when I’m funded have surely helped me become the resilient grants professional that I am today.

  8. Resolve to submit one proposal three to five days before the deadline. I heard this from a speaker once and have tried very hard to make this happen. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but I still think it is a great goal to have!

  9. Resolve to read at least three funded proposals written by other grants professionals. This is related to #6. I learn quite a bit from reading other people’s proposals. At different points in time, I have incorporated formatting techniques that others have used to make my proposals more “user friendly.” It is also an excellent way to see the writing skills of other professionals and to get a real sense of whom and the types of projects you might be competing against.

  10. If none exist, resolve to develop grants policies and procedures for your organization. I think that is resolution is a must if you expect people to treat your role as a grants professional with the respect and admiration that it deserves. Having policies and procedures also helps staff understand what they need to do to successfully apply for, receive, and manage grants.

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