Grant Writing Isn’t a Solo Sport: It Requires Teamwork

Note from Diane: The last post in our series about how grant writing is not a solo sport, but rather a team endeavor when looking for the greatest level of success, it’s time to look at more analogies for grant teams. Did you miss the previous posts? Check out Nicole Sibilski, GPC’s post, Grant Writing Isn’t a Solo Sport: When Life and Deadlines Compete, Bethany Turner, GPC’s post, Grant Writing Isn’t a Solo Sport: It’s a Lot Like Volleyball, and Briana Popek’s post, Grant Writing Isn’t a Solo Sport: Grant Professionals are the Quarterback.


The excitement is palpable when my daughter’s newly formed 7th grade volleyball team executes a strong play- digging, setting and spiking the ball back over the net.  When they hold their own in a volley, they are required to constantly reassess their situation and respond as a team.  It has taken them time and trust to get here, but now that they have- their confidence, happiness, and competitiveness has risen exponentially.


This teamwork is equally critical in grant development.  There is no such thing as a (winning) proposal written in isolation.  You need teammates that are strong in their roles- whether it is research, budgets, or program development- so you can play your part equally well and score for your organization.


We can take some inspiration and guidance on team-building from the UConn women’s basketball team.  One of my favorite authors, Shawn Achor, sums up the winning strategy of UConn’s head basketball coach Geno Auriemma, “You could put Geno on any team at any company and he would keep on winning, because his entire philosophy is to construct a team of stars rather than pamper a superstar.” The nice thing about this is, none of us have to be superstars.  We can be excellent teammates, and our organizations will reap the rewards.  A supportive team is linked to greater workplace happiness, which decades of research show increases productivity, accuracy, and quality of life (Achor, 2011).


So, take some time out of your day today to cultivate your team of stars.  Work on recruiting your team based on their strengths and passions.  Bring a coffee to your resident “numbers cruncher” or send a note of appreciation to the creative thinker you like to bounce ideas off, reminding her how much you appreciate her.  And remember, team members don’t have to just be paid staff members.  They can include board members and other stakeholders well informed on the issues your grant is addressing.

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