How to Become a Successful Grant Writer

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Today’s featured article is from a great writer named Kathleen Ewing. I stumbled on this article and wanted to share it with my readers. I hope you find it as interesting as I did. If you are want to learn more about grant writing, check out this article here: http://www.writing-world.com/tech/grants.shtml, also review Kathleen’s profile on Linkedin here:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathleen-ewing/11/579/825

Until next time, happy reading!

Lorraine

PS:  I will not be posting again until the last week in March. I am leaving for a business trip to Europe on Saturday and will be away for about 8 days. I will catch up when I return and promise more interesting reading for you all. See you then, now on to the featured article!

How to Become a Successful Grant Writer

By Kathleen Ewing

With the economy slumping and private donations running on fumes, the need for grant funds and grant writers has never been greater. Yet many writers exclude grant writing from their tool chest for the simple reason that it intimidates them. It sounds so formal, so technical and so difficult.

The good news is there really is a formula for success. The bad news is there really is a formula for success. Like solving a
mathematical equation, you cannot deviate from this formula. Grant writing is not a work of creative nonfiction. Artistic license doesn’t enter into the picture.

The first step is to find a client in need of your services. Start small. Don’t take on a half-million dollar project unless you have the opportunity to work alongside an experienced grant writer.

The two best methods for finding a client:
1.      Check with your local United Way. They can provide you with a list of the non-profit organizations they serve in your community. At any given time, several of these groups will have shopping lists of projects, facilities or equipment for which they need donor funding.

2.      Join the Chamber of Commerce and attend the mixers. Chances are excellent that someone at these events will represent a non-profit that requires the services of a grant writer or will know the representative of at least one non-profit that does.

Next you must match the project with a funder. As with organ transplants, the better the match with the donor, the more likely the match will be successful. Do not attempt to alter the project to suit the requirements of the funding source, however. By doing so you reduce your chances of success and risk alienating both your client and the granting organization.

Grant writing is the art of finding who has your client’s money in their pocket. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a trained
detective. Most funding organizations will tell you right up front whose money they have in their pockets. The best place to start your search is foundationcenter.org. For a fee, you can subscribe to their directory of grantmaking foundations.

Depending upon how much of a fee you pay, you will be able to access information for 10,000 to 100,000 of the top foundation and corporate grantmakers. The directory is updated daily. You can also find a hard copy of the directory at most libraries. Some entries in the hard copy will be outdated and will require further research to assure that you have the latest information available.

Study each of the charitable organizations and corporate grant makers to discover what types of proposals they typically fund. Find the ones whose mission statement, funding history and guidelines most closely match your project.

Do they fund in your state or region of the country? If not, cross them off your list. There will be plenty of funders that do. What is the deadline for each funding cycle? If the cycle has expired for this quarter, but the next quarter fits your timeline, add them to your group of prospects. If they list a website, make sure you visit the site. The more you know about a grant maker, the greater your chances of framing your proposal to suit their parameters.

Note the name, address, phone and fax number and e-mail address of the contact person. This is not optional, even if you are the bashful type. Call that contact person. That’s why the organization has provided their name — to save both you and the granting foundation the waste of time and resources involved in submitting an inappropriate, misdirected or poorly designed proposal. Give the contact person a brief description of your project. Ask him or her if it sounds like something their organization would fund.

If this person agrees that their grant-makers would be willing to review the project, ask how to prepare and submit your proposal to their specifications. Speak to the contact person for each prospective grantor you have identified for your proposal. Never assume similar foundations or corporations will accept the same style of proposal or the same format.

Whatever the funder’s submission preferences, make sure to provide precisely what that grantor wants; nothing more, nothing less. Some grant makers will ask for an informal preliminary letter outlining the project, while others will insist upon a full-blown formal proposal. Some will require the use of their own proposal forms. A few are so finicky they designate preliminary reviewers who will actually measure your margins with a ruler to make sure the manuscript conforms, and will reject the entire proposal package unread if it doesn’t. Don’t give a grantor a silly reason to reject your proposal — such as font, formatting or method of delivery.

If the foundation does not have its own form for submission, the basic format is simple.

The Ask
——-
This should be the opening paragraph of your proposal. It should look something like this: “Daisy Mae Center, a 501(c)3 company in Grand Tanque, NM, provides daycare to children one to five years of age with moderate to severe developmental delays. We are seeking $15,000 for Safe Kids brand name playground equipment for the thirty special needs children we serve. The equipment includes…”

Remember, the purpose of a proposal is to secure funding for a worthy project, not to show off your writing talent or to try to impress anyone with your vocabulary. The Ask should be brief, direct and uncomplicated. It should answer the who, what and where that a funder must know at the beginning.

The Why
——-
This is where you go into more detail about the need. If you can make the funder care about your project on a personal level, you are much more likely to be successful. If possible, describe a couple of instances that demonstrate the need for your client’s project. But stick to the truth. And always explain any terminology, jargon or abbreviations that are not common knowledge. Example: “In 2006, Lindy, a four-year-old girl with benign hypotonia (a chronic lack of muscle tone), was critically injured when she fell from… As a result of her injuries, Lindy has undergone five years of…”

The How
——-
This portion of the request delves into the nuts and bolts of your project. Here you describe the playground pieces, their functions and their special applications for your client’s requirements. Perhaps you can provide a few photos of the equipment, and of the empty playground or the out-dated equipment your project plans to replace. You can even include a website link to the manufacturer of the products. Explain what company will do the installation and who
will train your client’s staff to use the equipment properly. Include a timeline for these events because most funding
organizations will check in with a grantee at various stages to assure themselves the project is on time and making appropriate progress.

The Budget
———-
You will need to account for every dollar of the grant request, plus any other contributions to the cause. If a person or company has agreed to donate time or supplies to the project, this should be included as “in kind” donation. If another individual or organization has donated cash to the project, that goes into the budget. If the client has a person who is being paid to supervise the project, that must be added as well.

The Metrics
———–
The grantor will ask you what measurements you will use to determine the success of your project. Perhaps your client expects a third of the staff to be trained on the functionality of the new equipment every four weeks for the three months following the installation. You will need to put that on your timeline and have your client report to the grantor when it is accomplished.

A final success metric might be that all the equipment is in place and inspected, all staff are trained and all thirty children at the center have been introduced to each piece of equipment by a specific date.

The Future
———-
You will need to explain how Daisy Mae Center is going to pay for repair, maintenance and eventual replacement of this equipment. This might be through a combination of budgeting, local fundraising or private donations. Grantors want to see a concrete plan for sustaining a project after they have invested in it.

The Contact
———–
Provide the grantor with full contact information for the person they will go to for questions, details and progress reports during the lifespan of the grant. Unless you are being paid to manage the grant in addition to writing it, this should not be your name. Once the grant has been made, your portion of the process is finished. It is up to your client to provide whatever follow-up and assurances the grantor has requested.

Funders have drop-dead deadlines. Make sure you take into account time-zone differences. This is one deadline you don’t want to miss or try to fudge by even ten seconds. Being late is an automatic disqualification. No excuses. No exceptions. If you have to drive two hours to hand-deliver your proposal before the deadline, do so. Otherwise, all the time you have spent working with your client, researching and contacting grantmakers and developing the proposal
will be wasted.

Some funding foundations accept simultaneous submissions. In fact, many grantors will request a list of other organizations you plan to ask for support. If they are unable or do not want to fund your entire proposal, they might be willing to partner with another grantor to split the cost. Do not send this list unless the grant maker specifically requests it.

On the other hand, some funders do NOT wish to know if you are contacting another granting organization. So, when making a simultaneous submission, you must be meticulous in removing all traces of information for funding source number one before you send the proposal to funding sources number two, three or four.

When you learn a granting foundation or corporation has accepted your proposal, write a letter of thanks for your client to send to the funder. This is a common courtesy that is often overlooked.

If your grant is accepted by more than one grant maker, take a moment to celebrate a great accomplishment. Then you must inform the second organization that this has occurred. When you contact them, you should have already prepared a request to apply the additional funds to an upgrade for the project, to purchase additional items or to acquire unrelated items which are on your client’s wish list. Once a grant has been made, grantors seldom ask for a return of their funds, especially if you can show that the money will be put to good use along the same lines as the initial request.

The good news is anyone can write a grant. The bad news is — you guessed it — anyone can write a grant. You’re going to have a lot of competition. As any first-round grant reader can assure you, if you stick with the formula and provide the funders what they want precisely the way they want it, you will leave a third of that competition behind you right out of the starting gate.

>>————————————————–<<

Kathleen Ewing is a successful grant writer and award-winning freelance writer based in Central Arizona. Some of her articles have appeared in American Falconry,  Hobby Farms and TrailBlazer magazines. Visit her profile online at
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathleen-ewing/11/579/825

Copyright 2012 Kathleen Ewing

Building an eBook Empire

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Today’s article comes from a lady I have great respect for, Lisa Wells. Lisa is a Project Manager and Marketing Implementation Specialist who established her online business, Coast2Coast Business Support Solutions, after 15 years of working with people, helping them use computers to be more productive in their day-to-day work. Visit her website (link at the end of this article), you will be glad you did. Until next time, happy reading!  Lorraine

Building an eBook Empire

By Lisa Wells

While there are many ways to build a business online, building your own eBook empire is one method that creates long-term residual income that’s truly an automated “set and forget” system. Of course eBooks provide many perks up front.

You don’t have to stock any inventory. You can keep overhead costs low (no publisher and agent cuts like there are with print books). You have an endless supply that can be purchased at any time of the day or year.

But they also offer many benefits that aren’t so obvious.  While a tangible book in Barnes and Noble might sell for $14.95, an eBook on the same subject could sell at anywhere from $49-99 or more online as a digital download.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to launch your own eBook empire.  The writing is very different for an online audience – more like you do every day via email than what you learned in a college-level English class.

Tiffany Dow, author of Building an eBook Empire, used to ghostwrite for dozens of top Internet marketers on a freelance site.  Then she discovered how profitable her eBooks were and decided to learn the entire process of launching those eBooks herself.

Needless to say, she quit ghostwriting and now goes head to head with the very people who used to pay her $1,000 to write a 50-page eBook and make that money back in a period of two days. You can find quality freelancers to create your products for you at a fraction of the price, and turn around and launch it with your name on it – and it’s not only legal – it’s standard protocol in this industry!

So what does it means to launch an empire of eBooks?  You start with one, and then branch out – branding yourself as the go-to person for that demographics’ needs. You don’t write one definitive guide to wedding planning.

You write one about picking the perfect wedding gown, another on wedding flowers, one on honeymoons, and so on. Each smaller, niche idea that you drill down into gives you more selling opportunities.

There’s a step-by-step process for developing an eBook – which begins with finding your niche and ends with the launch of your powerhouse affiliate program.  You want to have an army of virtual salespeople out there pulling in profits for you while you continue adding another building block to your empire with a follow-up product idea.

You can use many free and low-cost tools to launch your first and subsequent eBooks online. It isn’t a business opportunity that requires a large investment of money, but you do need to commit some time to ensure it is properly launched in a way that bolsters your reputation in the community.

Lisa Wells lisawells@coast2coastbusiness.com

Coast2Coast Business Support Solutions, P.O. Box 113, Lakeview, NC 28350, USA

Lisa Wells is a Project Manager and Marketing Implementation Specialist who established her online business, Coast2Coast Business Support Solutions, after 15 years of working with people, helping them use computers to be more productive in their day-to-day work. She holds a bachelor of science degree in business management, designations as a Certified Online Business Manager, Certified eMarketing Associate, Certified Virtual Assistant and a member of the International Virtual Assistants Association. Visit her site at http://www.coast2coastbusiness.com

 

Don’t Take Your Writing So Seriously!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Lorraine Cote
The Write Touch 4U

Maybe you are an aspiring writer or maybe you have been writing for quite awhile. Regardless of how long you have been writing, every once in awhile you need to take a step back and look at your writing, really look at it.

There is all types of written material in the world, each with an different purpose and target audience. You may be writing a children’s story or something more business-like such as a press release or even an eBook on dogs. It doesn’t matter what type of writing you are doing.

What matters is that you stop and take a look to see if you are writing with the right tone for the right audience. By that I mean that some things that I have read were written for an entirely wrong audience, or the writing was too business-like and stuffy and its intended audience would probably fall asleep when reading it. The plain truth is that it simply had the wrong tone to it.

The key to successful writing is to know your audience! This is the golden rule of writing. Having said that, let me also say that regardless of what you write, you can write it in a lighter more engaging and conversational tone. It doesn’t all have to be straight-laced, stuffy and business-like.

One way to approach writing is to think of each piece you write as a written conversation between you and someone else. Picture sitting down and having coffee with this person and having a casual conversation about your intended topic. In this setting, you wouldn’t use big fancy, technical words would you? Of course not. You would discuss things in a casual light-toned manner, that was easy to understand. This tone is the key to reaching your target audience, every time.

If you are a writer of children’s books, picture having a conversation with a child to find out their likes etc. You would speak to them in a manner that they could understand, right? Well your writing in this area should reflect that same tone.

Unless you are a journalist writing hard-hitting news stories where a lighter tone wouldn’t fit or make the kind of impact you are looking for, you can inject a lighter conversational tone in just about anything else you write. Remember that you need to ENGAGE your audience throughout the writing or you will loose them after the first few sentences.

Take for instance Sales materials, you can write a “soft sell” article or one that leans more towards a “hard sell.” However, on the hard sell side, most people will back away because they don’t feel the need to be beat over the head with your pitch. They don’t want to be SOLD to. They would prefer a lighter-toned, more conversational soft sell pitch. a pitch that subtlety asks for a call to action.

So, the next time you sit down to write something, try to inject a lighter tone to all your writing that is engaging, entertaining or asks your reader to react to your call for action. But do it in the right tone and lighten up! You will be happy you did and your writing will glow for it.

Copyright 2012 Lorraine Cote

This article may be freely reprinted as long as the author’s information and copyright notice remain intact.

Lorraine Cote is the Owner of The Write Touch 4U, Writing Service. She is also a published freelance writer who has written over 100 eBooks on various topics for clients as well as all types of other written materials. She also has 18 years experience in the corporate world as a Trainer and Business Writer and is an Internet Marketer as well. Visit her at http://www.thewritetouch4u.com or visit her blog at http://writetouch4u.com/blog

GET DISCOVERED THROUGH PRESS RELEASES

Monday, February 27th, 2012

By Lorraine Cote
The Write Touch 4U

Do you have a service or product that you want to get in front of the masses? Maybe you have reached a new milestone in your existing business that you want to shout out to the world. Well, the easiest way to get the message out is through the power of a press release.

Press releases have been around for awhile and can be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. If you have a little experience writing, you can create one on your own. If not, you can hire a professional to write one for you. It is well worth the money to get a professional job done. You want to put your best face forward when marketing your business. If you are unsure of your ability to come across professionally, then do consider having someone with more writing experience help you with this.

Assuming that you will be writing your own press release, there are several elements of a press release that you need to pay particular attention to.

1. The Contact Information: this allows the press to contact you for a possible story or for potential customers to come to your site to see your offerings. Example:
CONTACT: www.ABCcompany.com
Joe Schmoe, President
Phone: (123) 456-7890
Boston, MA. 00000
Email: schmoe@email.com

2. The Headline: this is possibly the most important element of the press release because it must be “newsworthy.” It can’t be a sales pitch, but must be crafted as though you are announcing a news item.  It is the only way to build interest in your story enough for news services to publish it.  Here is an example of a headline that is newsworthy.
           WHERE WILL YOU GO?
                 Local Online Job Network Shows You the Path to Job Search Success.

NOTE: Do not say something like, ABC Company Is Offering The Best Job Hunting Technique In Town!

3. The first paragraph of the press release needs to make the announcement.  It is meant to make an announcement about something that is considered news, such as opening a new store, a new division, relaunching a business and so on. For example: Sterling Heights, MI—June 20, 2004—ABC Company, a new local online job network for residents of Massachusetts, is set to launch on July 1st to give job seekers an additional outlet to aid in their job search.  This is announces the date of the launch of ABC Company. The thing to remember throughout the press release is not to make a sales pitch, that’s not what it is intended for.

4. The rest of the press release should give background on the company, the product development or the service improvement etc.  For instance: ABC Company offers numerous benefits to both those seeking a job and employers looking for local talent to fill positions. The benefits to job seekers includes the ability to search for jobs by location, date range, categories, job type and keywords. It will give a person the ability to view all jobs posted by a specific local employer.

5. Add at least two quotes from an executive in the company or from you if you are the owner or CEO of the company. For instance: “We’re very excited about the launch of ABC Company. Being able to provide both job seekers and employers with direct access to local jobs and candidates, respectively, is the best possible solution for both,” offers Joe Schmoe, President and founder of ABC Company. Further down in the press release, add another quote like, According to Schmoe, “The benefits to local employers besides finding qualified candidates for positions, includes a reduction in time and effort in regards to recruiting new talent.”

6. Finish with something like, ABC Company is a local online job bank serving residents and employers of Massachusetts. They are based in Boston, MA. and can be reached by calling (123) 456-7890, by contacting Joe Schmoe via email at schmoe@email.com or visiting www.ABCcompany.com for more information.

That’s about it. Easy, simple and quick to whip up. Follow the above guidelines and you to can write professional press releases that may be picked up by small and large news services. This will give your business a boost in the right direction.

Now let’s talk about distribution. Once you have the press release completed, you will need to distribute it. The best place to so that is at http://wwwPRweb.com because they offer a low cost solution to distributing your press release. You can also search on the web on your own for other low-cost alternatives. The point is to get it out to as many distribution outlets as possible to increase your chances of being picked up by a worthy news service.

If you doubt your ability to write your own press release and decide to hire  a professional to write it for you, please consider my service, The Write Touch 4U. You can reach me at writetouch4u@gmail.com, I would be happy to discuss your press release project with you.  My press releases have netted press interviews and stories for many of my clients. I would love to help you “get your message out.” I also provide a free list of no-cost or low-cost distribution methods with every press release I write for my clients as an added bonus.

Until next time, take care and keep writing!
Lorraine

© Copyright  2012  Lorraine Cote

This article may be freely reprinted as long as the author’s information and copyright notice remain intact.

Lorraine Cote is the Owner of The Write Touch 4U, Writing Service. She is also a published freelance writer who has written over 100 eBooks on various topics for clients as well as all types of other written materials. She also has 18 years experience in the corporate world as a Trainer and Business Writer and is an Internet Marketer as well. Visit her at http://www.thewritetouch4u.com or visit her blog at http://writetouch4u.com/blog

When Writing Gigs Slow Down

Friday, February 24th, 2012

By: Lorraine Cote
The Write Touch 4U

So you have been busy writing lately. You may have  had more work than you wanted and were not in short supply of clients, which is great for you and for business. Now, all of a sudden, the well seems to have run dry, things may have slowed down quite a bit with no new clients on the horizon. So now what? What do you do when your writing projects seem to literally dry up?

The first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t PANIC, it’s bound to happen and things will bounce back, sooner or later. I have been running my writing business for eighteen years now and there hasn’t been one year when I didn’t experience at least one or two slow periods.

For me, things usually slow down around holidays, especially around Christmas. It’s understandable that people are wrapped up in shopping and the festivities of the season and are not likely to move forward with projects. I also experience a little lull during summer months when people enjoy the outdoors or are on vacation. As I said, it is expected, especially if you run your own small business, but the good news is that it usually doesn’t last very long.

The key to taking advantage of these slow times in business is to stay busy with other things. Keep focused on your business. It’s not the time for you to slack off. There is always room for improvement and if you have a little free time, use it to your benefit to make your business better.

So what exactly can you do to make the most of your downtime? Here are a few suggestions that may help you use this time productively.

1. Organize your office. Use the time to do tasks you couldn’t keep up with during peak business times. Things like filing, cleaning and organizing your office space. Catching up on correspondence and so on.

2. Review your business plan. If you don’t have a business plan, learn how to create one or have one created for you. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t know where you are coming from and certainly won’t be able to get where you would like to go in business. You should check your business plan yearly to see if you are on track and to make any changes that reflect changes in the way you do business.

3. Learn something new. Take online classes or classes at your local college and learn a new skill or hone an old one. Learn a skill that will be beneficial to your business in some way. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

4. Expand your business. Maybe you will need to hire more personal to help with  additional work or maybe you will need to purchase equipment/tools or software to automate things. In any event you should always plan to expand your business at some point. After all, you are in business to make money and expansion of your business is a good way to generate additional revenues to grow your business.

5. Catch up. Touch base with clients you have done work for in the past but have not heard from recently. You never know when you may get additional work from them. Sometimes they may be planning to get in touch but something keeps them from it, so they may need a reminder that you are there to help them. It’s a good way to rekindle relationships with former clients and drum up a little extra business in the process.

6. Get with the program. Maybe you can outsource some tedious administrative tasks by hiring a virtual assistant. This will free up time to market your business more aggressively and generate new opportunities.

Whatever the reason for a slowdown in business, take it with a grain of salt. Know that it won’t last forever and things really happen in cycles. You can’t stop the slowdown, but you can make the most of the extra time on your hands, by doing something productive that will pay off in a big way, in the long run. Wishing you much success in your writing business.

Lorraine Cote is the owner of The Write Touch 4U, Writing Service. She is also a published freelance writer who has written over 100 eBooks on various topics for clients as well as all types of other written materials. She also has 18 years experience in the corporate world as a Trainer and Business Writer and is an Internet Marketer as well. Visit her at http://www.thewritetouch4u.com or visit her blog at http://writetouch4u.com/blog