Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Top Ten Grantwriting Tools

Each time that I sit down to write a letter of inquiry or a grant proposal (as a staff member or for a client), I use the same resources. I recommend the following, and while none of them are REQUIRED, I think that as you write more and more grant proposals one finds that you also have a regular pool of resources. If you get a chance, please post a comment sharing the tools that you recommend.

I was going to make a list of ten, but once I thought about what I use, I realized that this list should be a 'top twenty' list...

20. "William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White The Elements of Style" (also called "Strunk and White") by Allyn and Bacon - This is a standard in English writing that provides rules, composition, form, and style.

19. "Hodges Harbrace College Handbook" by Hodges and Whitten - This is another standard in the rules and 'how to's' of writing in English.

17. "Guide to Proposal Writing" by Jane C. Geever - A great 'how to' and formatting referral for grant writing. I can't recommend this book enough.

16. "Webster's Collegiate Dictionary"

15. "Webster's New World Thesaurus"

14. Notes about what we're requesting money for, taken during an interviewing with the program/project head, for the program/project/item that I'm applying for the grant for.

13. The file on the foundation, government, corporation, or whomever we're applying to for the grant. I'll have in that file their contact information, copies of anything we've sent or received to/from them before, their current giving guidelines, a copy of their most recent IRS tax filing form 990, and any recent press clippings that I've found on them.

12. The preeminent recent journal, recent press clippings, and latest books in our field that are directly related to the project/program that I'm applying for a grant for (to use for reference or to quote in support of our work, etc.). It must always be the latest information in that field.

11. Our non profit agency's latest and current client survey results, or studies findings, and our most recent service numbers, such as number of clients served, or numbers of species assisted, etc.

10. The Foundation Center's professional message board (via Internet connection) - this message board is frequented by knowledgeable, seasoned, helpful fundraising professionals. More than once I've needed a question answered (quickly) by a fundraising colleague, and I've always received great (free) assistance in response to my queries. The board is called "Philanthropy News Digest PND Talk", located on the web, at http://members4.boardhost.com/PNDtalk/ Again, it's free!

9. A typewriter - in this day and age technology is convenient but whenever I'm filling in a foundation's form I like it to look clean and professional. I never hand write on forms, and instead revert to the typewriter to type in answers. Be sure to make copies before typing, just in case you need to start over on a clean form.

8. Guidestar at http://www.guidestar.org/ to use in researching the grant donor's recent grant donations. I look up the grant donor in the Guidestar search field, click on the grant donor in the results, and then click on the most recent IRS Form 990 that they list. The 990 is public record and Guidestar (a non profit, itself) compiles and scans in grant donors' tax returns to provide them to the public, free of charge, for research. The most current 990 available can provide you with the list of grant recipients (which tells you who the donor likes to give grants to, and for each cause, how much they gave); the list of Board members; their annual giving amount; and other information. This is invaluable in deciding how much to ask a potential grant donor for. You get to know your potential donor a bit through this document.

7. Copies of clippings of any recent press on your non profit to include with your application.

6. Access to the staff member or volunteer who is heading up the program, project, or thing that I am applying for the grant money for. Whenever I'm unsure about anything I walk down the hall or pick up the phone and speak to that colleague. Never guess - get the information and listen.

5. Our most recent financials; the last year's audited financials, last quarter's balance sheet, and the budget for the program/project/or item that I'm applying for the grant for.

4. Any recent notes or audio recordings (sometimes I'll take a tape recorder) from any round tables or talks that I attended where a representative for the grant donor spoke. The Puget Sound Grantwriters Association (http://www.grantwriters.org/) hosts monthly lunch time talks where they gather area foundation's representatives to talk about a chosen topic and answer questions.

3. Notes from any discussions that I had with the grant donor's program manager about our application.

2. My patience - I always give myself plenty of time to write, edit, write a second draft, re-work wording or composition, and edit again.

1. Two different well read and well written colleagues to each proof read the final draft of anything that I am mailing out the door. This is a life saver!

Again, not all of these resources are REQUIRED but these have been very helpful each time I sat down to write. Again, if you get a chance, please share your resources - we'd all love to know!

1 comment:

ken said...

Arlene, very valuable. Do you use any other shareware or opensource tools to help you match your need with available money sources?

Ken in austin