Kelly Updike for PCNRC, A Fundraiser’s Journey series
You are in for a special treat as this post is written by David Bennett, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne. Since its founding in 1956, the foundation has had a mission of serving the Allen County community by improving the quality of life for all of our citizens. In the last 10 years, nearly 7,000 gifts have been received totaling more than $86 million. At the same time, more than 1,100 charitable organizations and hundreds of students have been awarded nearly $80 million in grants and scholarships. You can read more about the foundation at www.cfgfw.org .
Dave’s expert advice for fundraisers.
Your executive director comes to you and says, “Say, have you ever written a grant application?” Swallowing hard, you mumble something about a creative writing assignment you vaguely remember from first period English class. “Perfect!” she says.
So what do you do next? Here’s a Top 10 list to get you started.
10. Prepare to write – All writers are different; I need a decent chunk of time, a cup of coffee, and a quiet room. Prepare to write like you would prepare for a picnic. What do you need and what is the setting?
9. Read the requirements carefully. I know politicians say, “Don’t answer the question you are asked; answer the question you want to answer,” but that is a recipe for a grant application rejection. Carefully look at what the application asks and tailor your response to that question.
8. Outline first. Before you write a single sentence, outline what your entire application will say.
7. Brevity – Keep your narrative concise and to the point. I have a well-worn copy of Elements of Style in my den. Every so often, I pull it off the shelf and read a chapter. One of the key insights from the book reads as follows:
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell.
Did you take four paragraphs to convey a message that could be told in one paragraph? Remember, the person reading your application likely is reading dozens of applications and probably under a time deadline. Make the job easier by keeping your application concise.
6. Avoid Acronyms. Never use an acronym that you have not defined. In addition, don’t overuse acronyms even if they have been defined. Continue reading