10 Ways to Continue Building Your Grant-Writing Skills
You can always improve at grant writing Here, you find ten great tips on how to continue building your grant-writing skills. All the advice here comes from the school of hard rocks and hard knocks.
Take on new challenges
How many times have you looked at a grant application and said to yourself, “No way. I can’t do this! It’s too difficult! There are way too many pages of instructions to read! Goodness, the grant-making agency wants 50 pages of single-spaced narrative. The application is due in ten days!” And in your mind, the list grows. It’s important to take on new challenges. Say “yes” to something completely outside your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn and how much more confident you’ll feel. The sky is your only limit!
Become a grant research specialist
If you don’t want to work on your writing skillsets yet, consider working on being the best-ever grant researcher. You can work on researching undiscovered grant-funding opportunities and presenting them to your supervisor, employer, or client, or you can focus on researching demographics and best practices for grant application topics.
New reports or studies are published online every day. Do you have the most up-to-date set of information? When will you need it and can you store it in electronic folders for future use? Work ahead, be prepared, and write like the wind when you find new grant programs and updated research information. Everyone in your work setting will look to you as the grant research specialist.
Volunteer your services
If you’re a member of a nonprofit board of directors or of its “friends of” group (volunteers who raise funding through special events), consider volunteering your services as a grant writer for one or more projects. If you have a full-time day job, you can do your volunteer work in the evenings or on the weekends. Cast your net wide and start giving back to the community where you live.
Become a peer reviewer
Open your web browser, go to your favorite search engine (like Google), and type call for peer reviewers. Scroll through the findings and look for state and federal grant-making agencies that have published calls for grant application peer reviewers. You’ll gain so much more experience and knowledge about what it takes to win a government grant award.
Do copyediting for other grant writers
You can learn a lot by reading grant applications written by other grant writers and editing their content. Copyediting entails reading the formatting and content guidelines published by the funder and then reading the completed grant application narrative to see if the grant writer’s work is in compliance. You’ll learn formatting and graphic techniques, pick up new research websites for your own growing list, and contribute to your employer’s or the grant writer’s client’s success. This is a great way to build your own skillsets and become a successful grant writer.
Work with an experienced grant writer
One of the most mind-opening experiences is to ask another grant writer if you can help her with her overage work. Maybe you only work with government grant-writing projects or exclusively write corporate grants. Working with another writer may open the doors to other types of grant writing which can help you improve and broaden your own grant-writing skills.
Attend national professional development training
Find a conference with workshops of interest to you, register, attend, and take copious notes. If you’re working in an environment where you’re a grant writer and you also manage the funded grant awards, your list of potential conferences just doubled. Check out these national conference possibilities and see what looks interesting to you:
- Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference
- American Grant Writer’s Association Annual Conference
- National Grants Management Association Annual Grants Training
Review successful grant applications online
Search the Internet for previously funded grant applications that have been posted online by the grantee (the organization that received the grant award). Look at a mixture of grant applications that were funded by the federal government, foundations, and corporations. Rarely will you find a high volume of grant applications funded by state agencies posted online.
Write and publish articles that require extensive research
When you decide to become an author of articles that will be read by the public, you might panic first and then hunker down and start to research your topic before you begin the writing process. Whom can you write articles for? Your own blog (if you don’t have a blog yet, try Blogger, Squarespace, or WordPress) or for other publications and companies that continually update their websites with contributions from guest writers.
Continue your formal education
While resources like our Grant Writing Cheat Sheet are great sources of education, it is important for you to continue to formally educate yourself. Across the country and around the world, there are lots of community colleges and universities that offer degrees in nonprofit management. If you search the Internet for examples, you will likely find the following (not naming the institution, just the degree program):
- Masters in Grant Writing, Management, and Evaluation
- Grant Writing Certificate Program
LearningPath.org has a list of possibilities for master’s and doctoral degrees in grant writing.