Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intensity and Duration

Success in most things is not a lightning strike; it’s more like a slow sunrise on a frosty morning. It’s often coldest just before sunrise. I learned that fighting forest fires. I’d be out working on the fire line all night long and then just before dawn it could get bitter cold. On those early mornings I was grateful for a smoldering tree stump to warm myself beside.

Sometimes, success is like a rising sun. It is often lurking below the horizon and if you keep working just a little longer, it’ll rise up and warm you.

Grants are difficult narratives to write. Writing a grant narrative takes intensity of concentration and the duration of hours of work. The level of intensity of focus and the ability to endure that level of focus until the job is done is the key to creation of a great grant narrative.

I see lack of intensity and duration in grants when I read as a grant scorer. A grant often starts off sharp. The needs section is focused and the narrative is strong. I can see the needs of the organization and the people they serve so clearly. I am moved by their needs.

In many instances a lack of focus creeps in after the needs section. The intensity of the writer is spent on writing the needs section and the narrative begins to drift. I begin to despair that the needs might not be met by the project design.

As I continue to read the narrative, I see holes in their plan, there are unexpected components that are unconnected to the needs described. I become confused, and as I do, the scores for each section get progressively lower.

Continuing my reading, I see errors in spelling, in arithmetic, incongruities between sections, and sloppy formatting. I can see the writer could not endure, their intensity faltered.

It is truly sad reading a grant like this because the initial narrative showed you needs so clearly, needs the writer wanted to help remedy. Those needs could even be greater than the needs of all the other grants you are scoring. But having needs is not unique and it is not sufficient.

Writing a grant that describes needs and goes on to describe a logical, achievable solution to those needs IS unique. Putting forth a plan that builds reader confidence that the grant will be successfully implemented is critical to being granted the money.

It is important to keep working until success rises up to greet you. Only a writer with intensity and duration will write successful grants. Writers must bring their whole mind to grant writing and success comes to those who can press their concentration through to the end of the task.

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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.