Category Archives: Grant Writer

Have We Met?

woman modelYou spot her across the room and slowly swagger over to say hello. You’ve got your intro line all prepared and you’re ready to make your pitch.

You smile.  She smiles. Then you take a deep breath and say, “After a year of therapy, I am so ready for a new relationship.  How about you?” She stares at you in disbelief for a second or two and then walks away.

In retrospect you realize that, since you had never met before, you probably would have been better off starting off with some basic facts like your name.

It’s the same with grant writing.  When you’re writing a proposal for a potential funder, you need to remember that the funder has never met you before. They don’t know who you are, your hopes and dreams, who you serve, or how long you’ve been serving the community. They don’t know anything about you. So start off with the basics.

Tell them who you are and what you do and what you propose to do. Build your case strongly, making no assumptions. Make sure that your proposal really gives them a good understanding of who you are.

Then you might have a chance of getting a date to the dance – a funder who wants to support your cause.

7 Beats of a Sexy Grant Narrative

  1. The Hook

The establishment of the needs which creates conflict, empathy, and a deep desire to help in the reader.

A woman parks her car, gets out, and walks down the worn wooden steps to the beach where removes her shoes and ambles to the water line where waves are crashing onto the rocky shore.

2. Inciting Incident

This is the part of the needs where the writer shows how the need is unmet by using numbers to define the extent of the needs.

The lonely lover wanders the beach throwing stones into the surf and wondering what went wrong in her life. Suddenly, she is swept off the beach and away from shore by a rogue wave. She’s sucked under in the foamy surf and comes back up choking and calling for help.

3. The Turning Point

Fortunately for the reader, you are providing the answer to the needs. You offer a goal and objectives to resolve it.

The woman founders in the water while a tanned and shirtless grant writer drives a speed boat, flying over the waves, locks of auburn hair flying in the wind. He spies her arm desperately waving for help and he steers the boat towards her.

4. The Midpoint

There are more needs to be met than the grant budget can provide for, but fortunately, the writer has partnerships to talk about that bring additional resources to the rescue effort.

Suddenly, a shark fin appears near the woman, the man sees it but the woman doesn’t, he speeds up but he knows won’t get there before the shark does.

5. Second Turning Point

Now the writer has to pull out the secret weapon, current and valid research that supports the solution and assures the resolution of the needs.

The hero now stops the boat and pulls out a high powered rifle to shoot the shark. He’s a former Navy Seal and expert marksman; the woman sees the gun and thinks he is aiming for her and ducks under the water out of sight, down where danger is waiting.

6. The Dark Moment

The grant narrative reaches the point at which the intervention is tested, the results are measured, evaluation is implemented.

Our hero knows he has time for one shot to save the woman, the shark fin is slicing ever lower into the water as the predator takes aim on the woman below the surface. The man’s taut forearms are steady as he stands on the bow cooly timing his shot with the rising of the hull, he squeezes the trigger as the fin disappears below the water, there’s a small splash behind the fin and a loud pop, then silence.

7. Joyful Resolution

The grant writer is confident about the plan in the narrative and it will certainly resolve the needs and require dissemination so that similar needs in similar places can be resolved.  The plans for expansion of the project can be described as funders flock to the effort.

Our hero restarts the speed boat and races toward the spot where the woman went under the waves. The water is red with blood. He dives over the side into the water and strokes strongly downward where he sees the woman struggling to reach the surface, the shark is far below her is spiraling into the deep marked by a crimson trail. They break the surface and they ride the wells to shore where they embrace like lovers and kiss deeply on the sand.

Romantic structure in a grant narrative can be sexy!

Structure is adapted from, “Writing the Romance Novel: The Seven Beats” by Kay Dacus.

Photo Credits – RACHEL GILMORE (Woman Watching)

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Little Know Facts about Sexy Grant Writers

Little Known Facts about Grant Writers In an effort to bring greater transparency to the field of grant writing, here is a short list of things you may not know about a grant writer. While each of these is not true of all grant writers, we imagine that many of them apply to most grant writers. Sexy Grant Writers are mysterious people like this man standing in the desert with his arms outstretched.

1. We sometimes write proposals in our bunny slippers

a. We have bunny slippers

2. We always put the roll on over, not under

a. We always put the seat down

3. We can’t ignore the chocolate in the cupboard or the pie in the fridge (they call to us)

4. We’re lobbying for a Pulitzer to be given in grant writing

5. We sometimes read narrative drafts in the bath tub

a. Sometimes we just sing “Evergreen” (Love Theme from “A Star is Born”)

6. We sometimes take your phone call on the 9th green

a. The phone always rings on our backstroke

7. Our blood pressure spikes 12 hours before a deadline

a. We eat oatmeal to keep our blood pressure down (or just put some in the bath water)

8. We have an unreasonable paranoia about signature pages

Grant writers are a curious lot. We like people, but we work alone. We dislike writing restrictions and yet we follow restrictions carefully. To know us is to love us!

Photo Credit – Troy Stoi
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The Joy of Grant Writing!

• Key scientific discoveries in the grant writing fields of grant psychology, grant writer physiology, and grant writer sexynessGrant writer research

Swiss researchers working at a University in Bern have announced new discoveries about grant writers. Sequestered in the Alps for the past 12 months with 24 grant writers, these intrepid scientists have been studying grant writer behavior and their report on what makes a grant writer tick is nothing short of stunning.

Dr. Vianna de Walbroia of Geneva studied the psychology of the grant writers by putting them through extensive daily testing. In this statement she summarizes her findings, “D’ere is a common psychosis among da group involving commas and 12 point fonts. Eeeet seems to be related to der over-deweloped sense of cramming far too much content into limited page restrictions. In vun experiment I offered to allow dem to write whatever de wanted and use as much paper as dey wanted, to a person, da group was so nervous dat they refused to begin writing until an approved RFP was issued for dee assignment. Dey just sat dere looking at me…it was unnerving to say da least. In da end, dey never wrote nothing so I jus put da paper away and led dem on a hike in da Alps wit a rousing Sound of Music Sing-a-long.”

Dr. Perreta de Chesaux studied the physiology of the group using a standard battery of medical and physical tests. He reports extraordinary abilities among the group in his report summarized here, “I can’t prove it genetically yet but I tink dat grant writers might be genetic mutations created by angry retired school teachers so dat grant writers reproduce school children who can sit still for more dan eight hours at a time and never say a ting. Dey also have dis peculiar increase in heart rate and blood pressure when dars any mention of jelly donuts or when ders any mention in the news of increased government entitlement spending diverted from de grant programs. I’m hoping dat one of dem will write me a grant to continue my research.”

Dr. Ruth de Chaseles was commissioned to study the attractiveness of grant writers which she passionately pursued using both hard and soft data. The doctor gives a brief overview of her results, “I measured da sexyness of dese grant writers wit da local population as a control group. My team measured da level of pheromones, physical traits such as facial construction and body type, and various personality tests too. Our comparisons between da groups did not show any remarkable differences in anyting vee could measure. But da subjective testing showed dat dere is a substantial difference in sexual attraction whenever a subject was exposed to one of da grant writers. It’s inexplicable to me, in my forty years of work I never saw nothing like dis since da beeeetles. Vee had to hire a security firm from Austria –cause vee don take sides – to keep da grant writers magnetism from corrupting da control group wit da hanky panky. And yes is true dat I’m getting married next week to one of da ones who writes da federal grant applications, hees idiomatic structures is magnificent.”

The team asserts that the study results will be useful in regulating grant writer behavior, improving grant writing training, and alerting the general population to the previously unknown animal magnetism of grant writers. The team even proposed a new genus to the scientific community named “homo grantwritericus.” Wikipedia has already adopted the new term and an authoritative definition by the team has been posted.

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Grant Writers are Sexy Beasts…

Photo Credit - Mattox

Even Grant Writers can’t Tame the Tyrant of Time

Inner workings of a watch.It’s funny you know, the way we structure our lives by clocks. As a teacher long ago, I used to detest the bells. Well, except for the ones that sent all the kids home to their parents where they belonged. I disliked the opening bell and the recess bell and the lunch bell. My life was ruled by bells, it was annoying.

So I moved into administration and then a different kind of tyranny dominated my work life. It was the tyranny of ambition, the early arrivers and the late leavers. Ambitious and upwardly mobile as I wanted to be, I was in both groups. It was the tyranny of the outworking your co-workers by simply being there longer. Didn’t make you any better, didn’t make you more efficient or smarter. No, I was just there more.

On the other side of the coin were those who arrived on time and left on time every day, like clockwork, ahem. Now those folks weren’t better or worse than the early/laters but they did work less, just exactly what they were supposed to mind you, but less than those who desired to move up the ladder more fiercely.

Eventually I left the bureaucratic administration rat race – I thought – to run my own show as a freelance grant writer. I left employment proper and entered employment as a contractor. Now I was free – I thought. But then reality set in and there were times when the work was not exactly pouring in so I worked longer hours and all days to try to ensure that checks would continue to come in. There were other times when the work was pouring in and I was afraid it would stop so I took all contracts coming at me and spread myself too thin just in case I had nothing to do in the 4th quarter of the year.

Time became my tyrant again. I never had enough of it because there was money to be made and deadlines to meet. I became a sort of hunter-gatherer, collected all the nuts and berries in season. The trouble became that there was never a down season where you could just sit around and eat what you had gathered for a while.

I suppose that as long as man has been walking the earth, time has been an issue. Accepting this doesn’t really help anything does it? Oh well, I better set the alarm and get to sleep, the little red glowing tyrant beside my bed will screech at me before I even feel like I’ve closed my eyes.

Grant writers are slaves to the clock, now that’s sexy.

I Need an Electronic Garage Sale

I’ve got too much stuff. I say that now and then about my material things. I get tired of moving it around or dusting it and I give part of it away or sell it off. I foresee a looming problem though, too much electronic stuff.

Getting rid my extra unnecessaries around the house is easy. I grab a box or a bag and I fill it up and it either goes into the dumpster or to the trunk of the car for Goodwill. Easy as pie is what that is. But electronic junk isn’t as easy to deal with.

I currently have nearly 2,400 emails – read – in my in-box. I don’t know why they’re still there, I must have a reason, but it bugs me. I feel as though I should be dusting them, or sorting them, filing them, or discarding them. But the task is huge and each day it gets a little bigger as more emails come along.

I am afraid to look at my list of folders. Each folder has dozens of documents in it and many folders have more folders in them. The list of folders in my computer is too long to number and even if I could number it the number would only weigh on my mind.

Sorting electronic files is excruciatingly slow. It helps if everything is nicely sorted and filed by a recognizable name, but that doesn’t always happen for some reason and I end up with a long list of unfiled files sitting there rudely under the folder list.

If I held a garage sale of my material stuff tomorrow, someone would likely buy a glitter-covered pine cone that I made in the fifth grade. I can’t hold an electronic garage sale though, because nobody will buy a 100 page grant narrative even one that earned a client 10 million dollars.

Sometimes I wish a hacker would hack in and steal my electronic files all away. Sometimes I wish a friend’s 2 year old would come by and reduce my hard drive to electronic devastation with a well-tipped sippy cup. There are, after all, a number of fortunate circumstances that could ease my digital angst.

I feel like one of those people who have filled their garage with stuff and who now have one, maybe two, storage units full of the overflow. My electronic car is parked in the driveway as it were. I guess I will have to break down one day soon to clean out the digital detritus of my life before it becomes archeologically significant.

A clean hard drive, now that’s sexy.

Postmarked by the Universe

Red eyed and bleary after a late night and early morning before a 5PM deadline, I rushed out the door of my office about 4:53 PM to the post office with both grants completed. I didn’t even stop to put the stack of envelopes down to lock the office door somewhere secretly hoping that I’d be burglarized and have to start a new career outside grant writing – tomorrow – after a good night’s sleep. These grants had to be postmarked by 5PM and the post office was about two blocks from my office but I still jumped in the car tossing the envelopes into the front seat.

Cross traffic at the end of my block was heavy of course, it was rush hour. So I sat there cursing my luck, cursing my greed at taking on two grants instead of one, cursing my copy machine that jammed over and over again as I was printing the final copies, cursing the pagination error in one grant which I found as I did a final perusal that forced me to re-print the entire correct document. There was a lot of cursing going on, I was in a state of panic.

A gap appeared in traffic and I drove my foot to the floor lurching my car into the gap to the bewilderment of the now equally distressed driver; oh well, they couldn’t possibly match my dire straits: it was now 4:56 and the post office is prompt about one thing and that’s locking their doors at 5PM.

Traffic crawled the block to the post office and I scraped my front end zipping into the parking lot through the deep gutter. I parked, I grabbed my envelopes, and I raced to the door where a worker was posted with keys in hand admitting the final patrons of the day before locking us in and the tardy public out.

Standing there in line sweating with my bundles of envelopes I knew I’d made it to the finish line and my clients’ grants would be submitted as contracted for. I’d narrowly escaped the Sword of Damocles and the universe had given me the smallest crack to squeeze through and I’d gotten through!

Post Script – Both grants were successfully funded and all was right with the world, my application to a trade school for window washers was rejected for lack of prerequisites and I was forced to continue my career in grant writing. I did sell that photo copy machine to an attorney who dropped in while loading it into his pickup truck, the universe is so good to me.

Now that’s sexy!

Grant Writers are Sexy Beasts: Why Can’t Everyone See It?

I know you’re finding this a hard title to swallow if you’re a freelance grant writer; but it’s true, not everyone is going to see you for the smokin’, free-wheelin’ pan of hot-rib-lickin’ fun that you are.

Some of your clients are just going to see you as an unnecessary expense; you know, they will put on a par with federal income taxes or Iowa earthquake insurance. Some clients will regard you as a kind of pick-pocket. Some of these clients are actually philanthropists, and others just think they are, even the ones who draw large salaries; because after all, they could be making SO MUCH MORE if they were just CEO of Chase, Disney, MGM or something. Of course they’re not, but they COULD be.

Some clients will hold the opinion that a volunteer should be doing their grant writing because it’s such a simple task.  Shamelessly, some of them will hold the opinon that YOU should be volunteering your services; they do, after all, have such a super-sized, scrumptious, volunteer-worthy cause. Besides, they won’t get a bonus at the end of the year by spending it on you.

So while you may feel all Ralph Lauren sleek, others may not see it. They might even talk behind your back about it, yet they smile when you arrive. They may think you’re hiding your wealth when you drive your up in Honda Civic. They may think you left the Lambo with Jeeves in the Carriage House and you’re putting on airs in your Dockers and Nunn Bushes. You may be cutting your own hair and they’ll think it’s an expensive avant gaarde cut from a salon in Soho that you fly to each weekend in your Leer with Chi-Chi and Bubbles (your French poodles).

It’s a hard thing to be misunderstood but we freelance grant writers need to hold fast to our inner sexiness, to our wah-wah-licious, thigh-burning, hotness. ‘Cause some clients will simply want to throw a bucketful of cold snarkyness on you and you’ll feel less than whistle-worthy; but trust me, you are, you’re all that and a bucket full of “philanthropists”.

Now that’s sexy!

Pulling an All-Nighter

It’s 1 AM and I’m halfway through my second draft. I drank two pots of coffee since 10 PM, scarfed down some junk food, and now I walk out to the porch and cold air just trying to keep my eyes open. My five o’clock shadow is rapidly turning into a 2 AM shadow and it’s so rough that it’s starting to pull out fibers on my collar.A grant writer asleep on a bench.

The neighborhood is peaceful. An owl hoots from a tree and an airplane blinks past overhead with a distant drone but there’s no traffic on the street. The porch light draws some moths the flutter about and my breath is visible in the early morning air.

I have a lot of editing to do on this narrative before I can move on to the budget, budget narrative, forms, and final formatting, all waiting to be finished before the 5 PM deadline I’m facing. I remember a time when I could give some of this work to someone else so I didn’t have to shoulder the whole load myself.  But these days I work alone out of my house.

Once I had a fantasy of the romantic life of a writer. But shivering here in my shorts and T-shirt, flip-flops on my feet, in the wee hours of the night, the reality of working alone for yourself is not nearly as glamorous as I had once imagined.

Fully awake I turn my back on the peaceful neighbors slumbering and head back to my office.  The house is in need of cleaning, it’s cluttered with discarded drafts and post-its lay crumpled around the waste basket.

Now that’s sexy.