Author and grants expert Jana Jane Hexter spent months interviewing the nation’s best grant proposal writers, and then encapsulating their wisdom into her book, Grantwriting Revealed: 25 Experts Share Their Art, Science, and Secrets. Ms. Hexter has made her book available “on a gift basis” – meaning that you can download it for free at grantwritingrevealed.com. The paperback version is also available on Amazon for purchase.
This book is a gem! In the author’s spirit of sharing, below are the tips that resonated most with me.
On helping nonprofits be strategic about what they are asking foundations to support:
1) Proposals are not letters to Santa, [and] our job is to lead the conversation away from “What stuff shall we buy?” to “What can we achieve? What’s the best way of accomplishing that?” (p. 81)
2) The principle of capital campaigns applies to foundation grant seeking. You would never do a capital campaign without procuring the largest gifts first because you have to have real working capital and you have to have a leader so that others can follow. (p. 144)
On writing grant proposals:
3) What I have found works best is if I set up a template of the proposal. I type the question and I leave a half page blank, so [nonprofit program staff] can see there is information that has to go in that spot and they can see the question we have to respond to. (p. 97)
On working with funders’ program officers:
4) Top grant developers never lose grasp of the fact that program officers and trustees are people first and donors second. (p. 68)
5) Program officers are like talent scouts for major league teams. Top grant developers know that the program officer’s primary job is to find good projects to fund. (p. 37)
6) Program officers rely on grantees to be sources of information for them…. Most nonprofits underestimate how their funding partners often crave learning more about what is happening in the field so that they can make smarter, more responsible decisions. (p. 59)
7) If you can get to an institution and actually get in the door and talk to somebody, you are three quarters of the way there. It makes all the difference in the world when they have a chance to see the face of the person who is representing the organization and get a sense that you are not just words on a piece of paper. (p. 43)