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12 Jan 2018

Your Grant Team Dream Team

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Grant writing is often assigned to one person who designated to complete the project autonomously. As we talk about on a regular basis, both in blogs and in practice, grant writing is really most productive and successful when done as a team (ICYMI: check out Grant Team of We, Not Me).

What comprises a balanced grant team? Here’s my take on who I’d draft for my dream team.  These don’t have to be individual roles, one person can take on more than one role, but to create a balanced team you’ll want to have each role assigned to a person on your team.


Grant writing team roles

  • A Budget Person-Having someone who has a clear understanding of the RFP’s parameters (match, in-kind rules, administration fees, salaries, organization’s budget, etc.) is essential to a successful application. The budget person not only makes sure that the budget material/attachments are correct, they also make sure that what is outlined in the narrative is reflected on the budget forms.
  • An Evaluation Person-The evaluation section of a grant is where many organizations are uncomfortable and therefore it’s often a section that is short-changed. Get those evaluation points on your RFP by identifying someone on staff to help pull out organizational data, look at benchmark data from colleague organizations and make sure that your organization has the appropriate evaluation tools in place. Ensuring that your organization has an evaluation plan that has been tested, is based upon industry standards and organizational data, is key to a successful application.
  • The Tracker-This is the person who tracks down the attachments required for the application well in advance of the deadline, creates a template for letters of support and contacts and follows up with people who have agreed to supply letters of support.
  • An Expert in the Field–This is the person who is current with the research and progress in your organization’s area of expertise. This person should be able to cite current trends and know the current lingo.
  • The Scheduler– This person’s role is to work with the group to create a schedule for the grant application that ensures that all material is completed, review and ready for submission a well in advance of the grant deadline. This person is responsible for getting all of the material into one place and also remind other team members about deadlines and, if necessary, deadlines that haven’t been met.
  • The Editor-This person is the one responsible for making sure the grant is grammatically correct, that information is consistent, not repetitive and a clear case for funding has been made.
  • An Outside Reader-This is your “Greek Chorus” the person who know what’s going on but hasn’t been involved in the grant writing process. This person will review the RFP, read a draft of the grant and provide feedback to the group.
  • The Baker-All great grant writing teams need someone who will keep spirits up either through baked goods for the team, supportive notes, or taking a time during a staff meeting/grant writing team meeting to acknowledge everyone’s contributions. (An especially important role if procrastibaking to overcome writer’s block is important to you!)

Recently at the GPA national conference, I was sitting with a group of friends and one made a pun about the grant profession. We all laughed, and the joke-teller said, “Isn’t it nice to be with people who get puns like this?” Yes, it is.


You know you are a grant writer when . . .

  • You drink an enormous amount of coffee
  • You have passionate feelings on the Oxford comma debate
  • You look forward to emails from the Grant Professionals Association
  • You know what #Grantchat is
  • You either have or are working towards earning your Grant Professionals Certification
  • You have experienced writer’s block on multiple occasions
  • You get excited about office supplies including but not limited to pens, pencils, highlighters, color-coded folders, and calculators
  • You create logic model, deadlines, and checklists for every part of your life
  • You have mad research skills
  • You have these three books on your shelf and probably many others like them
  • You think International Grant Professionals Day should be a national holiday
  • You know how to check the word count/character count in every word processing app
  • You know how to read a 990
  • You used Grammarly to double check your grammar on this blog post
  • You love hanging out with grant people


For me, truly the best part of #lifeasagrantwriter is the awesome people I get to interact with on a daily basis. Grant people are the best people.


To find other ways you know your a grant writer when, look for the hashtag #lifeasagrantwriter and/or #lifeasagrantpro on social media.


How do you know you’re a grant writer?


I recently had the opportunity to attend a brand launch for Quincy University. A team of highly regarded marketers spent six months researching our University, and interviewed over 100 members of our community, to identify core truths about our University they could use to build an authentic brand. They told us one of the truths they identified in their research is a culture of support on campus. This immediately brought to mind the University’s Student Success Center. The Student Success Center is a space on campus dedicated to peer-to-peer student support. A space our current students can’t imagine our campus without, but one that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

When I started as the Grants Writer at Quincy University back in 2011, the University had a small classroom that was converted into a Learning Resource Center on its main campus. This space was manned by a student worker and usage was tracked on a paper sign-in sheet. The center rarely had more than a few students in it, and the Director at the time was concerned this space had gotten the reputation as a remedial center, to be used only for students who were struggling. The computers were outdated, supplemental instruction sessions had to be held off site, and four students could not sit in the testing room without their chairs touching. Despite the underutilization of the center, the fact of the matter was- our students did need extra support, and they needed support more than ever. Our incoming students were less prepared to succeed in college than students were a decade ago, reflecting a trend seen across the country.

A few years later, I asked the new Dean of Academic Support what his vision was for the center, and from these discussions the Academic Success Center, which later became the J. Kenneth Nesbit Student Success Center, was born. We drew up a proposal for a student-centered, success-oriented space that would truly meet the needs of our campus. A local foundation supported our proposal and the result was a new 6,000 square foot Student Success Center in the lower level of our library.

The center not only assists underprepared students, but high performing students and students with disabilities. Student Supplemental Instructors lead large and small group study sessions in two modern classrooms equipped with smartboards and collaboration software, student tutors provide one-on-one and small group tutoring sessions in the math and English lounges, and students use the technology-equipped study rooms for collaborative projects.

The center isn’t just a shiny new space, it is a place where students gather to collaborate, learn and grow. They come here because they want to, not because they have to. In fact, last year students petitioned the University to open the center 24 hours a day due to demand- and the University complied. This is grants in action for me.


Julie Boll, GPC, is the Director of Grants for Quincy University. Julie began her career in the non-profit world as an AmeriCorps member and has worked with grants in some capacity ever since. She is a member of the Grants Professionals Association and a member of the program committee of the St. Louis chapter.

In January, I challenged you to set a few goals for 2017 that could become healthy habits, professionally or personally or both.

For 2017, my professional goals were to expand my own consulting business and continue my professional development. And I did that. This year I attended several webinars, co-presented a webinar, participated in #Grantchat, attended GPA Kentucky Chapter events, and attended and lead a discussion at the GPA National Conference. (Read the highlights of the What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You? discussion here.) I have been able to accomplish those goals and create processes to continue the goals as habits in the coming years.

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08 Dec 2017

Feeling Gratitude

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“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”   – William Arthur Ward


Isn’t that the truth?? This quote hits me very hard and reminds me that cultivating funder relationships is the essential ingredient for successful grant programs. As a grantor and a grantee, we share the same objective of creating, implementing, and managing a project that will make a difference in this world. Conversely, being grateful is not just receiving the grant funds – it means to able to start, build relationships, change lives, make history, track your progress, and most of all sharing that progress with others—I repeat sharing your grant project progress with your team, and most importantly with the funder.

During this thankful season of 2017, we are sharing why grants professionals always have to be gratified:

  1. Grateful for Funders because;
    1. They chose to fund areas that matter to them and organizations that has a strategic vision.
    2. They believe in giving back to the communities.
    3. They believe in creating a change in the world.
  2. Grateful for the Team because;
    1. It leads collaboration into building lifelong relationships.
    2. It encourages and holds each other accountable.
    3. It represents a collection of work approved at various steps.
  3. Grateful to be a Grant Writer or a Grant Professional because;
    1. The program vision gets its life on paper and tells a story to the funder.
    2. It empowers us to keep writing even when we get the rejections.
    3. It helps us see the world through many lenses.
  4. Grateful to the World of Grants because;
    1. It ensures accountability, transparency, and sustainability.
    2. It requires us to communicate effectively with the grantor’s by:
      1. Progress Reports
      2. Phone Calls/Thank You Notes/Emails
      3. Website Articles/Newsletters
      4. Annual/Audit ReportsSite-Visits
    3. It gives us the opportunity to make a change in the world we live in.


At DH Leonard Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, we are grateful for all you do for your organization and your grant programs. We are thankful that you are part of this team where we find, write, repeat.

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