myths about grant writing

Five grant writing myths to know

Grant writing is shrouded in misconceptions, and inexperienced writers perpetuate them. Here are five grant writing myths most commonly encountered by professionals:


1. Grants are free, easy money.

This is one of the most pervasive grant writing myths. Applying for a grant is a serious commitment, and developing a grant proposal isn’t easy or quick. It takes time to think through the requirements, especially if you’re writing a federal grant, and thoroughly answer each question on the application.


2. All I need is one “standard” proposal and then I’m set.

It’s not wise to build one grant template and send it out over and over again to multiple funders. Each grantmaker is different and you need to tweak your arguments to speak to their worldview. Sure, you can re-use some items in the grant are boilerplate pieces time and again (like your mission statement and organization history) but you will need to refreshed and retooled much of the language with each application.


3. Grant writers work on commission.

This is one of the biggest myths about grant writing. The practice is unethical and looked down upon by grantmakers. For a full argument as to why this is, read the article on why grant writers should not work on commission.


4. A grant proposal takes only a few hours to put together and you can do it at the last minute.

See #1.


5. I can model my programs after whatever the grantmaker wants.

This is a bad idea for several reasons. If you’re constantly trying to adapt programs to the whims and fancies of each grantmaker out there, you’re probably unprepared and writing grants at the last minute. You’re also making a huge headache for yourself by continually chasing down grant opportunities to run your programs. And you’re at risk of mission creep the expansion beyond your original, core mission (and core competencies) that waters down your organization’s true purpose and weakens your approach.


Avoid these grant writing myths, and you’ll significantly strengthen your grants program.


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