Taking Grant Writing from DIY to DI WHY (S2, E1)

With Requests for Proposals (RFPs) aka Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) often running between 40 and 100 pages of detailed instructions grant writing seems like endless sets of assembly instructions for IKEA furniture on steroids—minus the allen wrenches of course.  


The DIY (do it yourself) nature of grant writing comes from following the often-complex instructions, assembling the many required attachments such as logic models, budget worksheets, and tables of objectives and outcomes.  Even though it takes input from Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and staff accountants, plus program directors and direct service providers, grant writing itself can feel like a solo endeavor. You may be the only person at your organization who regularly writes grants, or maybe you are a solo consultant working with clients who contract with you because they have no employees with this particular skill set. There can be a lot of pressure to bring in more and more funding every year through successful proposals and grant management that’s on point.  


There are a lot of great sources of how-to information available to help your DIY grant writing process—just like the online and onsite classes and other materials available at most hardware stores and big-box home supply retailers on Saturday mornings around the country.  So instead of learning how to build raised garden beds or paint wooden furniture or lay stone for a perfect patio, you can learn how to create a compelling needs statement, craft a tight objective, or write “tight” for online proposals. This is all great and needed information available from organizations like the Grant Professionals Association, grants.gov, and on the podcast Fundraising HayDay.  (Full disclosure: I am the co-host.) 


With our second season of Fundraising HayDay debuting on September 5, Amanda Day and I continue providing expert advice and interviews that cover the DIY part of grant writing, fundraising, and grant management—real world, hard-learned lessons with a sense of humor on the “how-to” that we explored in Season One. 


Season Two also highlights nonprofit thought leaders like Vu Le of the hilarious and thought-provoking blog Nonprofit AF.  Voices for reform like Edgar Villanueva, author of “Decolonizing Wealth” and co-director of GrantAdvisor.org Kari Aanested help us (and you) explore the “Whys” of DIY grant writing and development.  These episodes are 30 to 40 minutes of getting outside the daily grind of grant production to take a long hard look at why grants are the way they are.


For example, why is general operating support so hard to come by?  Why can’t foundations include nonprofit and other agency experts at the table at conferences where they can work together in developing funding cycles?  Why are so many grassroots organizations headed by people of color excluded from larger grant awards? Why can’t all Federal agencies share the same application template?


Raising these questions can feel threatening. “If I question the policies and procedures of a foundation I’ve applied to, am I endangering the grant award that my organization so desperately needs?  Will I put my job in jeopardy if I honestly but politely answer a foundation’s survey on their grant cycles and processes?” 


With the Season Two support of our sponsor DH Leonard Consulting we are expanding Fundraising HayDay’s reach into a safe space for exploring the “Why” of grant writing and grant making.  If enough of us begin to push for open and civil discussions with grantmakers at the local, regional, and national levels maybe those endless DIY instructions can morph into true working partnerships.  With the knowledge and assets of the communities, we serve coupled with the resources and connections of foundation board members and program officers, actual and lasting transformation is possible.



DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 2 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on season 1 and stay up to date on the new season here.

Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.

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