Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grant Writing - Fact or Fiction

It’s my turn to write today. Veronica and I take turns - more or less - depending on the work we’ve got on the board. Today it’s my turn. Actually I could write tomorrow since we try to post once over the weekend – that per our editorial calendar, the one we developed post-Blog World Expo.

Often when I am blogging, I don’t know what I want to write about. My bulb is burning a bit dimly as it were, and as it is. So I just start writing and usually something gels, an idea crystallizes and I find a thread of an idea. You a probably wondering at this point what that is in this post – well, so am I, so take a number.

When I train people in grant writing I tell them that it is about writing both fact and fiction. The fiction must be based on fact of course, but let’s face it, most of the time you are writing about what you WILL do after you get the money. You are describing a future state created by the money you’re asking for. You don’t have the money yet and you can’t very well say, "I don’t know how this is going to work out,"can you?

So while you are describing the facts as you understand them, the present state of being, the needs, the structure of your organization, the people you will serve and why they need the services; you must also project into the future and describe how the services will be delivered.

The truth is that you’re giving your very best educated guess at how the services will be delivered, but it’s still a guess. Anyone with enough gray hair will tell you that no matter how well you plan something, implementing it is always full of dead ends, barbed wire fences, concrete barriers, and stubborn people who won’t do things your way. So you have to adjust, find ways under, through, over, and around.

But that’s reality. Reality in describing the perfect program implementation is what a grant writer is paid to do, not to project into the future to describe the inevitable problems that the project manager is going to face in implementing the project: that would be a critical error. A grant writer has to exude positive expectations and describe how things WILL go, and go well they will indeed. And only because you say they will mind you.

Don’t even get me started on the issue of sustainability. That topic is a post unto itself. Sustainability is where fiction turns to Pulitzer prize material – and perhaps, if you’re good enough at writing, Nobel prize material. Sustaining a program beyond the project period is an art form not achieved by many project managers, much less grant writers. Writing about how it will occur in a convincing manner is the stuff of Laureate grant writers.

Fact and fiction is what grant writing is all about. You simply must be good at both in order to write convincing proposals. So write blogs to express yourself, write poetry to develop your lyric expression, write fiction to exercise your imagination, and combine them all to write grants for pay.

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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.