Five myths about grant writing

Grant writing is shrouded in misconceptions, and they’re perpetuated by the inexperienced. Here are five myths most commonly encountered by professional grant writers:

  1. Grants are free, easy money. Applying for a grant is a serious commitment, and developing a grant proposal isn’t easy or quick. It takes time to think through the requirements, especially if you’re writing a federal grant, and thoroughly answer each question on the application.

  3. All I need is one “standard” proposal and then I’m set. It’s not wise to build one grant template and send it out over and over again to multiple funders. Each grantmaker is different and you need to tweak your arguments to speak to their worldview. Sure, some items in the grant are boilerplate pieces that can be re-used time and again (like your mission statement and organization history) but much of the grant will need to be refreshed and retooled with each application.

  5. It’s ok to hire a professional grant writer on commission. This is unethical and looked down upon by grantmakers. For a full argument as to why this is, read the article on why grant writers should not work on commission.

  7. A grant proposal takes only a few hours to put together and can be done last minute. See #1.

  9. I can model my programs after whatever the grantmaker wants. This is a bad idea for several reasons. If you’re constantly trying to adapt programs to the whims and fancies of each grantmaker out there, you’re probably unprepared and writing grants at the last minute. You’re also making a huge headache for yourself by continually chasing down grant opportunities to run your programs. And you’re at risk of mission creep — the expansion beyond your original, core mission (and core competencies) that waters down your organization’s true purpose and weakens your approach.
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