Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Did I Learn Grant Writing? - MaryEllen Bergh

The latest post in our "How Did I Learn Grant Writing?" series has been contributed by grant writing expert and Grant Coach, MaryEllen Bergh. MaryEllen's post comes with the subtitle, "How I Grew a Left Brain."

We all use both sides of our brain to some degree but in most people one side dominates. For me, the right brain has always taken precedence – creative, random, intuitive, holistic, and a whole to part perspective. This view has served me well for several decades as I only needed my analytical, logical, and sequential part to whole left brain perspective when I wrote lesson plans or balanced my checkbook. So how, you ask, did I learn grant writing, a mostly left-brain dominated task?

After many years as an educator and educational consultant, I thought the prospect of becoming a grant writer challenging and exciting as well as offering a great opportunity to unleash my creativity in helping clients design and develop programs and services. I enthusiastically jumped in with both feet and eyes wide open. I read successful proposals and tips for grant writing by experts in the field, and reconnected with journal writing to hone my writing skills, but, best of all, I was able to work beside a very successful grant writer who became my mentor. She helped me understand the nuts and bolts of the process and provided invaluable feedback (“Mmmm, I can see that you are excited about the design but where did you address the funder’s criteria?”). I was able to participate in her grant writing courses and learned how important it is to listen to clients and help them find the funding to make their dreams a reality. The first grants I wrote (and rewrote…and rewrote…and rewrote) helped me understand the need to create an outline of the narrative to ensure all criteria are addressed and to communicate complex ideas in clear, concise language. One day, after reading a draft of a proposal I had written, my mentor looked at me and said, “Finally, you’ve grown a left brain.” That did make me smile!

I have written many successful proposals over the last 10 years and, while I always don my “left brain hat” to actually write the proposal, I still begin the writing process by visualizing the big picture, drawing the project design, and scribbling my notes all around the design (usually in a variety of colors). So yes, I have grown a left brain over the years but I have found that there is still plenty of room for creativity in grant writing.

You can read more tips from MaryEllen Bergh, the Grant Coach, at the member site.
Free e-book - 12 Secrets of Successful Grant Writers.

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.