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Three Ways To Improve Your Persuasion Skills

Monday, June 20th, 2011

If you’re a grantwriter it stands to reason that you’ll need to sharpen your communication skills. You’ll be called upon to write clear, accurate, error-free proposals. But there’s one other communication skill that isn’t frequently mentioned in job descriptions. The skill of persuasion.

Who's Lives Will You Change With This Project?

Persuasion is the ability to influence, to win over, and perhaps change somebody’s mind.  In the world of grantwriting, you may see how this capability would come in handy. You want the grantor who is reading dozens of proposals from other organizations to be affected by your proposal and your cause. Ultimately you hope to sway them to say yes.

But how do you persuade others?

1.    You convince them that the project serves a pressing need in the community.

Identify specifically what the need is, whom you’ll serve, and how you’ll fill the need. Remember to tie this to your mission.

2.    You ensure them that trusting your organization is a good investment.

Tell them about your track record of implementing your mission to serve the community. Briefly highlight your history in the community, notable partnerships, and any other facet that lets them know you’re a responsibly managed organization with strong community support.

3.    You urge them to action.

Give a compelling case of why this can’t wait. What are the consequences or who will be impacted if you don’t gain their support? Tell them what you need from them to put the project into place. Give them a visual.

Tie Your Grant Proposals To The Funder’s Interests

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Yes, your organization’s mission is vitally important. We’ve discussed that your mission is why your organization exists. Your mission also guides organizational decision-making and it gives the organization a sense of direction. In other words, just about every activity your organization engages in has to do with furthering your mission. Just as every communication out of your organization has to do with your mission. And naturally, every grant proposal you write has to do with supporting your mission. Do you see how your mission drives everything? So knowing how crucial YOUR mission is, I now ask you to consider your FUNDER’S mission.

Animal Shelter

That’s right. Your potential funder’s mission is vitally important, too. Why? You can have the most wonderfully written grant proposal ever submitted, but if it doesn’t match the funder’s interests and mission, your wonderful proposal will be rejected. The reason they can’t fund projects that don’t match their mission is because the reason THEY exist, or their funding priorities exist, is to fulfill THEIR mission—just like your organization. The lesson here is to be sure your grant proposal matches the funder’s interests, priorities, and mission. You’ll be a step closer to winning a grant award.

How Stories Can Strengthen Your Grant Proposals

Friday, February 4th, 2011

If you haven’t yet visited my Blog Talk Radio Show, this is the week to do it. Special guest Andy Goodman visited on the February 2nd episode to talk about Storytelling the Next Big Thing. He talked about the 6 categories of stories and how you as fundraisers and grantwriters could use each type of story in your organization to advance your mission. Now for those of you who have been reading my book, Grant Writing 101, you will notice that I wrote about some of these same topics that Mr. Goodman points out, although I didn’t refer to them as stories.  But he presents it differently and I like that. It is always good for you to hear things presented another way until you hear the explanation that grabs you and causes you to say, aha, I get it!

Storytelling As Best Practice

But Mr. Goodman also points out stories that are not in my book. For example, he talks about the ‘Creation Story’, which is the story of how your organization started. It’s the spirit of your organization and it’s vibrant history. These are compelling stories to gather, and as effective as his other stories not only for advancing your mission, but also for grant writing. Click here to listen to the program.

Let’s Talk About Mission Part II

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Now that you know the importance of identifying your organization’s mission, let me stress once more that mission will come up again and again when you write grant proposals. Not only that, but mission will be front and center when dealing with donors, sponsors, and grant funders. And believe it or not, mission is or should be on every piece of collateral material, advertising, and social media your organization uses. Organizations that are effective at emphasizing their mission this way will draw many supporters and advocates of the mission to them. And we all know how critical community support is to our organization’s vitality.

Hospice care

It’s important to note that if your organization has a wimpy, or vague, or uninspiring mission statement, or if your current mission statement is no longer reflective of all you do, then it’s time to rewrite it. Do not resist. It’s worth spending the time to have a kick-butt mission statement. It’s actually imperative that you do. Click here for an article on creating a mission statement. Click here for another article on writing a mission statement.

Let’s Talk About Mission Part I

Monday, January 31st, 2011

If you’re new to grantwriting or if you’re new to the nonprofit world, you may have questions about your organization’s mission. What is a mission statement and why is mission so important? I define mission as the reason your organization exists. It’s the purpose of your organization. Does your organization exist to feed the hungry? To teach music to elementary school students? To provide hospice care? To provide a shelter for animals? You must first know the answer to this question before you can write a mission statement.

Children Playing Music

A mission statement is necessary for grant proposals. It’s a brief statement that immediately lets a potential funder know what you’re all about. And before they award you a grant, they want to know all about you. A mission statement is more than a couple of sentences; it guides decision-making, it gives the organization a sense of direction, it can announce your organizational values or ethical position and it can include the organization’s goals. It should be meaningful and truly identify why you exist. Click here for sample mission statements. Or just visit the web sites of your favorite nonprofits, such as the San Francisco Symphony or the Los Angeles Zoo. The zoo shows their mission in blue words under the heading, ‘about the zoo’.

Watch Your Tone of Voice

Friday, December 10th, 2010

What does tone of voice have to do with grantwriting?  Plenty.  Just as when you’re talking to your child when they’ve done something good, or your spouse when they’ve done something bad; and just as a manger talks to you at work, tone means everything.  When you’re writing a grant proposal keep your tone in mind.

Tone of voice is your attitude.  You don’t want to come across as over-confident, yet you don’t want to come across as needy, with your hand out.  In grantwriting there is a happy medium.  That’s what you want to aim for in your grant proposal.

Often the grant itself will determine your tone. If you’re requesting a grant for ill children in a long-term care hospital, your tone will be more serious. You’d want a tone that offers a sense of hope for the children and their families (with the grantor’s support).  If you’re writing a grant for children’s musical theater, your tone will be more upbeat and fun.  But in ALL cases, your tone stays true to your organization’s mission.