Updated: Jul 20
Grant writing takes as much imagination as it does skill. After all, turning your vision into a reality requires some creativity, and it can mean securing a great financial opportunity for your non-profit when done well. In fact, foundation giving amounted to $75 billion in 2019, illustrating how non-profits that are willing to present their cases can get the funding they need.
Grant writing may not have an exact formula, but there are definitely some steps you can take to improve your productivity to ensure your organization’s grant applications are a cut above the rest.
Here are some productivity mistakes you should avoid to stay productive during the grant writing process:
Multitasking Multitasking seems like a necessary skill that every grant writer should have given every detail they need to consider when drafting up a proposal. However, focusing on several things at once can actually have the opposite effect and cause your brain to work harder than it needs to. To be more productive for grant writing, focus on one task at a time. Ensure your draft remains focused all throughout by avoiding working with your email or other drafts open. It also helps to avoid multitasking on different sections in your grant proposal itself. Start by defining the 5 Ws and 1 H, making sure there is a distinction between who, what, when in your grant proposal before adding more detail and context with why and how.
Not Setting Productivity Periods Writers need a certain degree of flexibility to do their jobs effectively, and grant writers are no exception. These professionals have more freedom today while working from home, but this can be a double-edged sword depending on how one uses this flexibility. It’s crucial to explore and maximize your productivity periods, but the first step is to determine when you write best, first. Take some time to observe your working patterns, making sure to note when it is easiest for you to write and when it becomes more difficult to churn out ideas. It also helps to rearrange your to-do list based on your productivity periods, starting with simpler tasks to warm up to more complicated ones later on in the day. For instance, you can start with developing the concept for your draft by gathering and formatting information. Then, when you reach your productivity's peak hours, you can delve deeper into clarifying opportunities and needs, studying RFPs, and discussing strategies to build your grant writeup.
There are so many details to include in an effective grant proposal that the tendency to overthink is a natural occurrence for many writers, and it can render them unable to communicate objectives in a grant proposal. Referred to as the Paradox of Choice by psychologist Barry Schwartz, his studies found that more choices can lead to better results along with negative conditions such as anxiety and indecision. This can often manifest in beating around the bush with the ask as writers get caught up in explaining the organization’s history, all the while neglecting other important details of the program and the actual request. Keep it simple and focus on the needs of your organization throughout the proposal.
Finding your rhythm and understanding what keeps you productive is essential to preparing a successful grant proposal. While addressing mistakes relating to multitasking, productivity hours, and overthinking can help you accomplish your tasks, productivity is dependent on so many more factors. However, by being consistent with your efforts, you’ll start to see results in your writing and when the grants you help draft (hopefully!) get approved.
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