Top Tips for
New Grant Writers
Megan Ritter, Vice President of Communications
If you’re like me, you didn’t set out to make a career of grant writing. You didn’t take college classes on the topic or study it closely before diving in. And ultimately, it’s a craft that’s best learned by doing. Below, however, are tips for learning the craft if you’re starting out – or deepening your skills at any point in your career.
- Make friends with everyone in your organization. A grant writer’s greatest asset is a deep knowledge of every facet of your organization’s operations. Work with the policy researchers to learn about your group’s key issues. Spend time with the communications team to understand what’s unique about your media outreach strategy or how you track social media engagement. Have lunch with the accountant to get your questions answered about next year’s programming budget, and share with them what information you need when writing proposals.
- Writers are readers. Make reading a daily habit. Regularly make time for your organization’s white papers and blog posts and for the news of the day. This will add context and relevancy to your writing. Finally, you should read well-written nonfiction, literature, and novels. The simple habit of reading good writing will increase your facility with language.
- Assemble your resources. Keep a few writers’ references close at hand. On my desktop, you’ll find the gold standard of grammar texts, Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style; the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus; the Associated Press Stylebook (your organization may prefer the Chicago Manual of Style); The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations; and The Almanac of American Philanthropy. Having print references saves me from the many distractions Google can present – which leads to my final point!
- Close your door and clear your desk. Clear writing comes from clear thinking – and it’s difficult to do either when you’re multitasking and juggling distractions. Block off time on your calendar for intensive writing. During that time, close your email and web browser, place your cell phone out of reach, and minimize opportunities for your attention to wander. Your writing will be stronger, and you’ll find the task goes faster.
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