For many organizations, grant writing is the lifeline of their programs and in some cases, the lifeline of the organization itself. While grant writing is an indispensable skill that many people do not possess, it is important to note that program planning is a skill that many grant writers do not possess.
An effective grant writer tells you a story and proposes a solution. Every funder wants a solution, but what happens after the grant is funded? What happened before the grant was funded?
Ideally, every organization has a comprehensive approach to converge the grant writing and program planning processes. Together, group of individuals should discuss what they know about the community in which they serve, what was successful in the past, what did not work and what can realistically be implemented and/or sustained during the proposed grant period? Creative writing skills alone cannot address these issues.
There are far too many programs in progress that were unintentionally designed to fail because of a great idea on paper that was not well thought out or even worse, a great idea on paper that was rejected by the community an organization hoped to serve.
Before a grant is submitted, it is imperative to conduct a needs assessment to an organization’s fullest capacity. If there is no budget to allow for an extensive needs assessment, there are creative ways to do more than just pull data. For example, why not take a field trip, make a phone call or attend community events to build a rapport with and learn about the needs, assets and desires of the people you plan to serve?
Originally posted on LinkedIn, October 2014.