Coach, Researcher, Project Development Specialist, Collaborator
Copied and adapted from an article by Marie-Noël Appel
“Proposal writing represents the last phase of thorough project development.”
Development of a grant proposal typically starts with an idea that will enhance, enrich and or increase current operations. This idea must link seamlessly to an organization’s mission and strategic long-range planning objectives. To build the proposal and launch the project, the grant writer must be fully versed in these fundamental aspects of the organization.
The grant writer can be a staff member on the development team, an external consultant, or the person who will manage and direct the project. No matter who takes on this task, a unique combination of qualities and skills is needed to be successful.
Three skills a Grant Writer must possess:
1) The ability to ask probing questions that get to the core of the proposed idea, moving the project leadership from a general concept to a well-defined and persuasive case for funding.
2) Expert organizational skills that make the process efficient, productive, and stimulating.
3) Be highly responsive to emerging ideas, and able to move swiftly to advance an initial inquiry from the concept phase to an actual proposal.
With this combination of skills, the grant writer can play a central role in the organization helping to develop a cadre of staff who are equipped and motivated to pursue funding opportunities for their priority projects.
Grant Writer’s Role as Coach
As a coach, the grant writer poses many questions. In the early phase of project development, some of the central ideas that the project director, together with the extended team. As a coach, the grant writer serves to motivate the project team.
Seeking funding is generally tied to institutional growth, and this is the point from which significant enthusiasm can be initiated and sustained. This energy can become an essential motivational component, helping to encourage all of the project team members to assume responsibility for various aspects of the work associated with designing a comprehensive project and developing a competitive proposal. The mission and strategic long-range planning discussion move next to questions associated with the need for the project.
Grant Writer’s Role as Researcher
Grant writers research and identify potential funding opportunities, eligibility requirements, regulatory requirements, and previous grant award trends. Grant writers strengthen the grant proposal by working to develop a strong project needs section that is backed by the latest facts, trends, and research. Grant writers identify applicable data to support the grant purpose and project need, such as community assessments, demographic data, evidence-based practices, journal articles, and successful pilot projects.
Grant Writer’s Role as Collaborator
Project design is enhanced by the inclusion of various partners. Potential collaborators can be representatives from other departments within the organization. When partnerships are developed thoughtfully, all parties involved play a central role identifying the need, constructing the solution, and taking ownership of the implementation steps to conduct the initiative. Early on in the process, the grant writer once again needs to ask questions to identify partnership opportunities if they haven’t been considered or to help further define those that have been initiated.
Grant Writer’s Role as Project Development Specialist
Once the project team has been expanded to include the appropriate internal and external partners, it is time to move beyond the conceptual phase of the project and into the articulation of the actual project. This process includes defining the project goal, anticipated outcomes, budget, and implementation timeline. At this stage, the grant writer works with the project team to articulate a clear and concise project goal with a series of anticipated outcomes. The achievement of the project outcomes is delineated through action items listed in the project timeline, tying seamlessly to implementation costs.
The grant writer has the unique responsibility of assisting an organization in its attainment of long and short-term growth. Pursuit of funding for special projects and institutional programming requires an organization to think broadly about its priorities and how these priorities complement and advance the institution’s mission. The grant writer’s role as coach, researcher, collaborator, and project development specialist is centrally concerned with stimulating discussions that consistently clarify how a funding priority fits into a larger context within the organization. The grant writer is also in a unique position to study the field of funding opportunities and serve as a clearinghouse for this information sharing it with the leadership within an organization, department, or unit. Through a sequence of logical steps that move seamlessly from one phase of the process to the next, the project team will fine-tune the design, and a persuasive proposal for funding will emerge. The grant writer’s role as coach, researcher, collaborator, and project development specialist can effectively advance this important objective making a significant contribution to the growth of the organization.
Jo Miller, JM Grants
This blog post was copied and adapted from an article by Marie-Noel Appel. Her article offers more insight on this topic and specific questions and resources for you and your grant writer to use in developing your proposal.