This Insights article was contributed by CIE’s David Morrison, and Althea Lewis with UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services.
Last week, Cucalorus Connect gave social entrepreneurs and filmmakers the space to learn.
Topics ranged from adapting to social innovation to the hard-and-fast skills you need to manage a business or nonprofit.
The importance of working in the latter category shone through during a session from UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) called “The Nuts and Bolts of Grant Writing.”
What are these "nuts and "bolts," exactly? Just like your average messy toolbox, there are too many to count.
Instead, I wanted to take a few minutes to review a few central themes from our session:
- Tell your organization's (or project's) story in a new way. Don't tell funders what you do; focus on why you do it.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions about the questions. In many cases, funders will gladly take your calls or emails about the application.
- Know when to ask. With the above theme in mind, that doesn't mean you should call for everything. If you have questions about how to develop a project budget, for example, consider working with someone – such as a consultant or mentor – to help you make important decisions about the grant.
- It is your grant, but be sure to get input from others. Often, an executive director or board president under a tight deadline will write a grant and not share drafts with others for feedback. Start early, get feedback from those in your circle, and avoid those simple mistakes that can be cause for rejection, especially with larger funding amounts or long-term projects.
- Be yourself (within the Request for Proposal guidelines). You were chosen by your organization to write this grant for a reason. Instead of dreading the task, embrace it. Write the grant the way you know how. Just remember, each time – no matter if it's a $500 grant or a $500,000 grant – your purpose in writing is to share your “why” in a compelling and meaningful way.
It truly was an honor to represent UNCW, CIE, CHHS and the vibrant nonprofit community of southeastern North Carolina at the 2017 Cucalorus Connect Conference. We appreciate all those who attended and supported our session in such meaningful ways.
David Morrison is the owner of DF Morrison Consulting and has been the CIE nonprofit advisor in-residence since August 2016. David can be contacted via email at [email protected]. Althea Lewis is the pre-award grant specialist for CHHS at UNCW. She is also founder and president of Lewis Grant Writing Services, LLC.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.