Write Grants Only

I’ve written about this before, but it needs emphasizing and further explanation.

Grant writers should stay away from being board members or in charge of anything except writing grants. If a grant writer wants to be on the board, they should not write grants.

It is an issue of priority and authority. The grant writer must focus on a nonprofit’s most critical needs. As a board member, authority gets in the way of the priority and unfortunately changes the needs.

There are politics on any board, and members can change the priorities to benefit some strange purpose. Being on the board, a grant writer is too close to these authorities. Away from the board, the grant writer has more leverage to prevent strange decision making.

Most importantly, a grant writer needs to be objective (neutral, unbiased) and being on the board can affect this position. As an example, on the board, a grant writer is a voting member, which can alter priorities.

I write this because I made a mistake of writing grants and later agreeing to be on the nonprofit’s board. I have since resigned from the board (for several reasons) and will go back to what I originally wanted to do, which was writing grants. Being on the board and writing grants is not an experience I will repeat.

For the grant writer, what is the goal? If it is to get money for the nonprofit, stay there.

I have a few words to avoid

Every writer, I think, has the habit of using two or three words way too many times. For me, it is “but,” “really,” and “just.” I have been fortunate to realize this and either avoid them or take them out when I don’t avoid them. But, they really are just unnecessary.

Just like starting a sentence using “and” or “then” either separately or together. It is rare these words are ever needed like this. If a writer thinks they are needed to introduce the sentence, they should rewrite the sentence.

I could explain this more, but I try to avoid the word “because,” because things should be explained without saying, “Here’s the explanation.”

I try to not start too many sentences with “The.” Many sentences do not need to be addressed that formally. The introduction of people, events, or other incidents should already be there waiting to take action.

Finally, each paragraph should not begin with the same word. At least, not more than twice in a row. Paragraphs should be unlike their past and future selves.

This is all about different word choices. Use a diverse culture of words to be inconsistent. That is the story of creative writing. Writers write a story with a plot in mind and it is the use of word variety that makes it readable.

P.S. I ended my book without the performance. I wrote the chapter and it looked like it was screaming to get it out of there. It fit in perfectly as the introduction into the second book that I was trying to avoid writing.

Some Grant Writing Tips (Here’s the rest of it, Part II of 2)

Another Opportunity
If a foundation states they do not accept unsolicited grant requests, do not send them a grant request. Do not call. Instead, send them information about your nonprofit. This should be no more than a page and a half with attachments.

Include a few glossy brochures with pictures that explain the mission and purpose of the nonprofit. The best thing to send is testimonies and pictures of the people who the nonprofit helped. I then wait for the foundation to contact the nonprofit, if they do. If not, I do not bother the foundation again.

I have had success using this method. Over half the time, the foundation sends a grant request.

Don’t Waste Time
Some nonprofits focus their effort on applying for grants they have little chance of getting. The top U.S. foundations (with the most money) accept less than five percent of the grant requests they receive. Many of them look for wide impact on a national level. A lot of them fund projects in third world nations.

A grant writer should look for foundations associated with a business in the local area. If a nonprofit is in a rural area, find family foundations. People are more likely to give in an area they know well.

The biggest problem is applying to foundations that fund projects not in the nonprofit’s mission. If the foundation states they will not fund it, they will not fund it.

Keep every detail about every grant request sent out. Use a spreadsheet and avoid complicated software programs. Note deadlines, acceptance dates, and when to expect a check. If rejected, call the foundation and ask why. Record this, too. This database can be important for future grant requests.

No Response from Editors and Agents

I submit short stories to magazine editors with the vague hope they’ll accept my work. I have hope until my story is rejected (hope turns to shock/surprise when accepted). I have the same hope when I query an agent for my young adult novel (there’s no acceptance, yet).

The worse part of submitting a story or a query is the “no response” position editors and agents take. Some agents will at least say that, if I did not hear from them, they were not interested. I still wait and, after a hundred days, decide they will not respond like they said they wouldn’t.

A few magazine editors say the same (don’t wait for a response), although I do. Some editors say to query them if there is no response. I used to do that and I always received a nasty email to stop bothering them. They put in more effort to respond to me like that than it would have taken to send a form rejection.

I realize people can be overwhelmed with submissions, yet it does not take much to send, at least, a standard form rejection. Most editors and agents have assistants or interns reading the submissions, anyway.

I think, to not respond at all, shows a lack of respect for writers as if they are not worth a reply. When I record on my spreadsheet “no response” from an editor or agent, I tell myself to take them off future submission lists.

Of course, the editor or agent could have lost my story or query. And, I am not immune from making mistakes in my submissions. This is why I will probably send another submission contradicting any advice I might have just gave myself.