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19 Mar 2017

A Grant Team of We, Not Me

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“Grant Team of We, Not Me,” by Diane H. Leonard, GPC, was originally published on GrantHub on March, 8, 2017


When you read “grant team” do you look around and wonder who we mean?

Do you feel like a grant team of one?

Or, conversely, do you have an idea of who your grant team should be, but have a difficult time actively engaging them?

After analyzing hundreds of grant ready organizations and their data through the GRASP Tool, one of the most common areas for improvement in grantseeking organizations of all focus areas, communities served, and organization size appears to be the lack of a grant team.

That being said, we know that grant teams do not all sound and act the same. Successful grant teams come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, grant teams are often not even formally titled as such, and what your organization’s or client’s grant team looks like will likely ebb and flow as different members of the organization come and go.

You can read the rest of Diane’s post and tips for effective grant teams here.


We hope that you’ll join Diane on March 30, 2017 at 12pm ET for the *free* webinar  Identifying and Maximizing Your Grant Team for Great Results. Register now as space is limited!


You can also catch up on this past week’s #grantchat if you weren’t able to join the conversation live. Diane was a guest on the chat where the community discussed ten different questions related to the idea of “Grant Team of We, Not Me.” You can read the full Storify of the chat here (you don’t need to have a Twitter account to read/access this).

How many times have you submitted a grant application and right after you hit submit you see several mistakes? We have all been there. It happens to the best of us.


“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.” ― Patricia Fuller


5 Tips for Editing Your Full Grant Proposal

  1. Be grant ready: You are less likely to put in the wrong information if you have already gathered the general information and documents you will need for the grant proposal before you start writing. Keep all the documents well labeled so you can easily include them in your proposal.
  2. Write your first draft: You can’t edit until you have something written.
  3. Review for consistency: You need to review the whole application for consistency – in the narrative, between the narrative and budget, throughout the whole application. A confused reviewer generally equals no funding.
  4. Use great tools
    • Grammarly: Grammarly is an online proofreading tool that checks text for grammar, punctuation, and style, and features a contextual spelling checker and plagiarism detector. They offer a browser extension for Chrome, online platform, and desktop version. You can use it for free or pay for their pro version. I use Grammarly on a daily basis. It helps eliminate errors in my grant writing, blog writing, social media posts, emails, and anything else I type on my computer. (And a bonus: follow them on social media. They post funny things you will resonate with.)
    • Grammar Girl: Mignon Fogarty a.k.a. Grammar Girl has written several books, hosts a weekly podcast, and posts regularly on her website. Through all these mediums, she gives quick and dirty tips for better writing.
    • Style Manual: All the publication styles have their own style manual. The style manuals are great references for questions on how to properly style your grant application.
    • Purdue Online Writing Lab (Owl): Purdue University has a great online writing lab with writing resources and instructional material as a free service.
    • Books on writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King
  5. Have another set of eyes review the proposal: Make friends with a coworker who is not involved in the grant development to read through the proposal. Or hold a mock review where a group of people read through the proposal and score it according to the grantmaker’s scoring system. Others will catch mistakes you won’t see.

Use these tips to make sure you don’t submit a grant proposal in its underwear.


What are your go to editing tricks and/or tools? We’d love to hear! Share with us in the comments section of the website or via social media.

Happy International Grant Professionals Week, and an early Happy International Grant Professionals Day!

What is this professional holiday you ask? The Grant Professionals Association launched #IGPD three years ago and states that “International Grant Professionals Day and Week is the annual celebration to recognize and show appreciation to all grant professionals.”

Last year, I challenged everyone to think about how you as a grant professional think about celebrating the success of your grant teams. Are you wondering how you others are Celebrating Success in a Grant Team? Catch up on that post here.

This year as we get ready to celebrate International Grant Professionals Week (March 6 – March 10, 2017) and International Grant Professionals Day (March 10, 2017), I am excited to be brainstorming ways that I personally can thank my awesome team for the work they do (shh, no spoiler alerts here!), the grant teams at our client’s for the work they do, and how to increase visibility of this day in the larger professional community.

Each year, I watch my spouse and his colleagues celebrate Engineer’s Week with fun building challenges in the engineering department like egg drops, soap box derby races and balsa bridge building. I wonder what a fun challenge would look like for grant professionals?

Best scored need statement section as judged by peers durig the week?

Most compelling 250 character goal statement as submitted to your local GPA chapter?

Best track record of reaching out to new potential GPA members or new professionals interested in the field?

It isn’t as easy to *see* our work as grant professionals. That is part of why the #grantswork hashtag was started this year. It is a great way to encourage us as grant professionals to highlight the amazing impact of grant funding and the work that we do. So if you are wondering how to celebrate the day or week yourself, whether your colleagues recognize you with a special lunch or other recognition, take a moment to share your #grantswork stories and pat yourself on the back for the impact you are creating through your work as a grant professional. You can check out the #grantswork stories that our team has shared over the past two years here.

How do you plan to celebrate International Grant Professionals Day? Or International Grant Professionals Week? We’d love to hear/see! Share your pictures and stories with us in the comments section on the website, via our social media pages, or by using the hashtag #IGPD.

Thank you for all YOU do to make #grantswork change our communities!

Last week I shared 4 Reasons to Apply to National Funders. Time to follow-up today with research tips.

Weaving through what seems to be mysterious threads of geographic funding, there is always a history and a story behind the funding trail. One key to receiving funding from a national funder is to learn the story of its interests and build a relationship with it. Below are some ways to learn about a potential funder.

7 Tips to Research National Foundations

  1. Find 5-6 national funders that are a good match to approach
  2. Follow social media or sign-up for email notifications from the foundation
  3. Find their issues or theories of change and follow all information on the topics
  4. Ask your staff and board review the funder’s staff and board list for existing relationships
  5. Find a way to meet the funder in-person (fundraising, state-wide foundation, or nonprofit events)
  6. Know your organization’s elevator speech
  7. Patience, persistence and precision (make a correct match and give time for the right opportunity)

If you find a national funder that funds in your state, having a plan can help you win grant awards:

  • Kindly and efficiently get to know the fund’s busy Program Officer;
  • Be a subject matter expert in your field: speak and publish about it often;
  • Create a fundable organization: know your niche, methods, and successes;
  • Create a project model that can be elevated from local to national;
  • Breakdown everything in your NPO to a project and its budget;
  • Realize that a national funder won’t know your local story; and
  • Know that national funders receive four times the applications as a regional funder.

Always have national funders in your organization’s prospect sights. It may take longer to build a relationship or receive a grant, but working toward this goal while building capacity with local and regional funders, and your persistence will be rewarded.

Do you have other tips for how you research and approach national foundations? We’d love to hear! Share your tips in the comments section below or with us via email at info@

Prospecting for grant funders is a time-consuming task for nonprofit organizations. Yet it is essential. Many nonprofits begin by finding and building relationships with local funders, then regional, then national.  If your nonprofit has a solid record of receiving, utilizing and reporting well with local and regional funders, it can be time to extend your prospecting reach. There are several reasons to look at national funders, including these four:


  1. Your NPO has a program that is replicable in other communities
  2. You need to reach beyond local/regional donor fatigue
  3. You are diversifying your funding sources
  4. Receipt of national funding gives your nonprofit credibility


One way to find prospective national funders, is geographic searching. Search for those that fund in your state. Even small family foundations often fund in states outside of which they reside. Why is this? Private and family foundations can move offices when the foundation changes hands between generations or a foundation that began in the north, is now in the south as the funders retired in a warmer climate, but they still fund back “home.” It’s very important to search for national funders by where they fund versus where they are physically located. In my state of Minnesota, over 20% of grant funding originates outside the state and this trend is growing by 2% per year.


Does one of those four reasons resonate with you? And now you wonder which national grant maker to consider? Next week, I’ll be sharing “7 Tips to Research National Foundations.” 

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