I was asked by someone recently on how to improve their grant writing skills while staying on a budget. For all those who don't have the time, money or inclination to take a grant writing refresher course, here are some creative ways to improve your skills:
• Seek professional development opportunities and attend grant-related conferences, meetings, lunch-n-learns, etc. This is a no-brainer but you would be surprised by how many grant writers are too busy to attend events that are often free or paid for by their employer.
• Attend grants meetings and RFP informational sessions conducted by government agenicies even if you are not applying for that grant. You can learn a lot at such events about the overall grant seeking process and also technical aspects of grant writing.
• Shadow a grant professional, or find a mentor. Not as difficult as it sounds, you just have network as mentioned in the previous tips before you find the perfect mentor.
• Ask someone to critique your proposals and provide suggestions for improvement. You can do the same for that person as well.
• Throw out all your old proposals and start from scratch. Use new ideas and language. No peeking allowed!
• Spend a day with accounting/finance staff to understand key financial processes and how they affect grants.
• Audit programs. talk to clients. accompany case workers on their routes. Get a feel for why the grant proposals you write are important.
• Spend some time on non-grant activities, such as volunteering for a special event, making membership calls and the like. It always helps to recharge a tired soul.
Suggestions and tried-and-true tips are welcome!