Drafting a Dream Grant Writing Team

Here’s time-tested advice on setting up a winning grant writing team from GovGrantsHelp.com columnist Diane Leonard, GPC.



By Diane Leonard, GPC

Putting together your grant writing team is a bit like drafting a fantasy football team. You need to make sure that you have all of your key positions covered within the players at the table. You likely need your head writer, your finance director/staffer, the person that will be responsible for implementation if funded, representatives from your collaborative partners, and your evaluator/data guru (whether they be internal or external). The order that they are called to the table can vary, but you need to have someone who is ultimately facilitating/coaching the team and inviting others to the team to sub in as necessary, be it an executive director, town supervisor, or grants and foundations director.

The actual titles and roles of individuals that you may call to the table as part of your grant team will vary by community, but the idea of having a formal team pulled together as early in the grant discussion as possible will greatly strengthen your application.

The key to a successful grant team is to have a strong project work plan and timeline laid out so that those involved understand the expectations for their contributions be it the draft budget or the statistics to be cited in the need statement.

Three points for consideration in order to strengthen your grant team:

  1. Keep all members of the team up to speed on any changes to the initial program design which spurred the application. As you are facilitating a team with individuals from numerous disciplines and possibly multiple organizations, your challenge is it best utilize your players for the optimum application results. There are multiple web based software packages which could potentially help you manage the process.
  2. Have sub meetings as part of your project management plan where a small subset may convene to discuss the draft budget specifics after the full team has agreed on the large scale program design. Not all members of the team need to be part of every meeting.
  3. Think about how to engage individuals with different writing background as reviewers for the application prior to submission – be clear that not everyone is reviewing for grammar or word smithing, but rather, others are reviewing for program design consistency.

Your grant team can help lead your application through the review process to funding success and help prevent avoidable questions from reviewers. The next time you pull together a grant team for a new application, think through the potential players strengths and background before you draft them to the team so you are sure you have a team with great breadth and depth that can handle the challenges an application can throw at you.

This post originally appeared on FundBook.org in 2012.

Diane H. Leonard, GPC is an experienced and highly respected grant professional who has provided grant development counsel to nonprofit organizations of varying size and scope for more than a decade. Diane founded DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC based in Clayton, NY in 2006. Diane began her career in philanthropy as a Program Officer for the Michigan Women’s Foundation, a statewide public foundation. Diane is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association and is proud to have earned her Grant Professional Certification, a credentialed certification conferred by the Grant Professional Credential Institute.