Being a successful grantwriter requires balancing a variety of elements. You have to be in tune with the nonprofit world, think like a fundraiser and a businessperson, craft compelling prose like a novelist, and be comfortable with research and jargon like a technical writer.
Here are a few tips gleaned from writing workshops that will help fledgling grantwriters and professionals alike step up their writing game.
- Introduce key plot points that correlate with the specific funder’s focus areas and the key characters (the staff and the audience served) early on and repeat them. This helps you establish your narrative arc.
- Make sure the entire proposal reads as a coherent whole. You are telling a story, so make it read like one.
- Think about the reasons why reviewers should care about your project more than another project and include those details.
- Make sure your proposal has heart! You may want to provide some testimonials or quotes from people aided by the project. Pictures and other visual aids may help you succinctly underscore your points while making your project’s audience more real to reviewers.
- When working with statistics and hard facts, think about how to present them in a way that prevents your readers’ eyes from glazing over. If you want to illustrate an increase or decrease in homelessness effectively, for example, a chart may be more impactful than a list of statistics.
- When in doubt, use font to your advantage. Pick a compelling font (within the boundaries of funder stipulations), boldface section heads, underline or italicize important phrases, and use bullets to set lists apart.
- Know your audience. Check out their website; take note of writing style and tone in their written materials. Also, look at the grantmaking priorities and review what has been funded in the past.
These basics of storytelling will come in handy in most genres of writing. As so in grantwriting, the ability to craft a compelling narrative can help you get noticed.