Grant Writing: Don’t Be Scared

Occasionally I meet people that have both a great idea and a hazy notion that there might be a grant out there to fund it.  Yet they are intimidated because they have never written a grant proposal.  That was me!  It’s true that fundraising is an art and skill, and I’m sure there are good workshops to learn how to do it well (especially when going after the big ones). Nonetheless…’s how I got involved in grant writing:

I wrote one, and I got it.

Suddenly I had $20,000 to run with my little idea, and I became convinced that ordinary people with good ideas sometimes get them funded.  (If you don’t know the story of Green Party Kits, you can read it here.)

Once I had this confidence in hand, the whole process was demystified, and I kept trying for others.  Getting one is ridiculously empowering.

From my limited experience, I think the keys to “grant writing for the average person” are as follows:

-Know what you want.  Always ask for funding based out of a deep sense of vision.

-Be specific in what you want.  Do your homework.

-Read the application, and be clear about what the organization wants to fund.

-Assure the grantors that it is absolutely do-able.

-Write well.  There is no substitute for clear, decent writing.

-Remember that the first one is the hardest.  I’ve learned that once I’ve written up a few proposals, I’ve already done the hard work of cataloguing the important information I’ll need for others.  Every application is different, but you’d be surprised how much you can cut and paste!

-Don’t give up!  The $1,200 grant we received this week was rejected on the first cycle, but accepted on the second.

-Go for it!

Me, Principal Kevin Ogden and Mary Junqueiro, Director of Programs for the Western Plant Health Association from whom we received $1,200 and a gift basket with an additional $250 gift certificate from Home Depot

9 thoughts on “Grant Writing: Don’t Be Scared

  1. Dearest Trisha!

    Just wanted you to know that your ideas and words are very large in my ears. Kidsingardens and especially Kids With Cameras has been so inspiring. Soon I will have a picture with one of those big checks to share with you. Kids With Camera: Through Our Eyes will launch March 1, 2013. Thank you so much for your passion and vision, it truly transcends!

  2. Thanks for the grant-writing information. Were you a 501(c)3 organization when you won the grants? My dilemma is nearly all of the grants I’ve seen require the grantee to be a non-profit or school. I am just starting out and I have neither of these connections.

    Any ideas about what I can do? Thanks, I like reading your posts!

    • Thanks for following Heather! I won the Green Party Kits contest/grant through National Geographic as an individual, though everything related to the school garden has generally been linked to the school or the PTO as our umbrella 501c3. Can you forge a relationship with one? Or join up with an existing group through which you can run your program? (Not knowing what your goal is I’m just casting around for ideas.) I just went to a workshop on “garden to cafeteria” protocols, and one of the big buzzwords of the day was “joint-use agreements” between schools and community groups to create gardens. Perhaps that’s an angle? Other than that, all I can say is keep your eyes open for more general contest formats….and try not to be discouraged.

  3. T,
    Writing is right up there with reading.I remember a man who used to read to his little girl and make things up as he went along……this could only happen before she could string the words together and see for herself. Now that same girl can give it to you in Latin root words. If she ever mentions the word grant,I’ll just write her a check…

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