Category Archives: Ask Dalya

Ask Dalya: How can I tutor and support someone else in writing a needs statement for our grant proposal?


Q: How can I tutor and support someone else in writing a needs statement for our grant proposal? No one ever seems to feel like they can do it.

A: The needs statement is one of the core elements of a grant proposal, but it doesn’t need to be a scary piece to write. In fact, the simpler the better. I use (and teach) a 5-part system for putting together your proposal’s priorities; two of them relate to the needs statement:

Facts and Figures: This is simply the context you are in. Who are your clients/participants? What are the top few issues they’re dealing with? What are some current trends that make those issues so pressing? Are there research data or statistics that can back you up?

Importance of the issue: If you were telling a stranger why they should care about this issue what would you say? Don’t assume the answer is obvious. If they asked you, “So what?” would you have a clear answer? Outline what is at stake if that issue were not addressed. If you’re proposing a specific project or program, talk about how it’s a priority for you in working toward your organization’s overall mission.

Here are a couple of examples: Continue reading

Ask Dalya: Do you recommend a notebook, paper or oral digital recorder for ideas and thoughts, like traditional writers have used?


Q: Do you recommend a notebook, paper or oral digital recorder for ideas and thoughts, like traditional writers have used?

 A: Yes, I think it’s a good idea to start thinking of yourself as a “writer” – even if you only sit down to craft a piece occasionally. You want to invite ideas to come to you whenever and wherever, and you should be ready to capture them.

I carry a small notebook around with me wherever I go. But I could just as easily take notes or record my thoughts on my mobile device. Going back through my notes later is a great way to relive my recent ‘aha’ moments and maybe even add an additional thought that has been brewing in my mind. A journal is an expanded version of this little notebook, and I also recommend keeping one. In addition, I keep a little notepad by my bedside to keep notes before or after sleeping. These methods have come through for me countless times. Continue reading

Ask Dalya: What if 2 or more similar grant proposals get funded? What about using photos?


Q: What happens if 2 or more grant applications come through for the same program?

A: That is an enviable situation to be in! Assuming that the total amount awarded is more than the program’s total budget, you should re-assess your situation. Can you do more of the same program with a larger budget? Save the funds for the next fiscal year? Or would you prefer to use the extra funds for another program or for general operating support? Once you know your ideal plan, explain your situation to the funder(s) and try to negotiate a good alternate use of the grant. The main thing is to always maintain transparency by letting your funders know if you have any plans to use their funds in ways other than described in your proposal. Chances are, the funders will be pleased to hear of your so-called predicament.

Q: Would you recommend including a picture or two in a grant proposal”? Our organization works on adaptation to environmental concerns. We could send photos of wildfires burning homes and forests. What do you think? Continue reading

Ask Dalya: How can we measure return on investment for grantwriting?


Q: What is the best way to measure return on investment for grantwriting?

A: You may be tempted to think that it’s simply the amount of money you immediately bring in minus the time and money you spent to procure that grant. Right? Not so fast…

We need to look at grantwriting’s return on investment in both the short term and long term.

The number and size of grants directly resulting from any given proposal is often out of your control. Foundation board members consider many factors when funding different grants, and (I dare say) the quality of your proposal is only one of them. The organization’s reputation or history in the community, changing funder priorities or staff, unexpected limitations on funds, and a perceived mismatch with a proposal’s emphasis are just a few. So the short-term success of any proposal (i.e., getting funded) is not the only way we can measure the effectiveness of grantwriting work.

The good news is that the grantwriting process itself can be valuable to the organization in several ways. For example, thinking through the responses to a Request for Proposals can be a great strategic planning exercise. Creating a program budget may shine a light on expenses you have never tallied up before. While writing a general operations proposal, seeing the big picture of an organization (beyond its day-to-day parts) can be an eye-opening experience. I have seen many organizations benefit in these ways from the grantwriting process (whether or not they get a specific grant). Continue reading

Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program: FAQ

confusion2Folks have asked some great questions about the Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program. And here are the answers!

By the way, the next session of the FastTrack Program starts on February 2, with only 6 seats available. The Early Bird deadline is this Friday, January 23. You should also know about the program’s main page for more details.

Q: Who is the FastTrack Program for?

The program was designed for you if:

  • You have grantwriting responsibilities as a nonprofit development or program staff member, volunteer, or board member
  • You are a beginning/intermediate grantwriter
  • You have strong writing skills and want to explore the world of grantwriting

Q: How is this program different from regular grantwriting classes?

The FastTrack Program does not just deliver one-size-fits-all group training (available in other places). Rather, it is customized to the group’s specific interest areas: you will help shape the group’s experience. Topics unique to you can be discussed in your one-on-one laser sessions.

You will be working on a real grantwriting project over several weeks; the program is by no means just theoretical! If you are not yet required to write grants, you will need to arrange with a nonprofit organization to write a grant proposal for them (most nonprofits will jump at this opportunity).

The FastTrack Program also gives you the chance to learn from others’ successes and challenges (“case studies”), as well as practice providing and receiving analytical feedback. Your insights will add value to the group discussion and hearing others’ different perspectives will add to your own learning process.

There will be lots of real-time interaction and Q&A (by phone and Facebook group), so the program will not be like many of the other online trainings you may know about.

Q: How much of a time commitment is involved?

In addition to the 4 group conference calls and 1-2 private laser calls, you will need to plan for approximately 1-2 hours per week (on your own schedule) to devote to program homework. If you are brand new to grantwriting, or if you are not already working on a grant proposal, you may have to devote an additional 1-2 hours per week to the program.

Q: What if I can’t make all 4 conference calls?

If, for some reason, you are unable to join a live group call or two, you will be able to interact with the group and ask questions via our private Facebook page. You will also want to listen to the recordings of the calls. If you know ahead of time that you can only attend some of the live group calls, we can make arrangements to ensure that you still get maximum value from the program.

Your 60 minutes of private “laser” coaching will be scheduled according to your own availability.

Q: What kind of grantwriting background do I need?

If you have attended at least 1 introductory course on grantwriting and/or have been part of at least 1 grant proposal process, that is excellent! If you are just starting out, no worries. You will have lots of opportunities to take free online tutorials to hit the ground running. The only requirement is the motivation to work with others to improve your grantwriting skills.

Q: Do you offer a money-back guarantee?Of course! Fully participate in the FastTrack Program until the first Friday of the session. If you are not already getting incredible value from the program, I will offer a full refund.

Q: Can I hear a sample of your training and coaching?

Yes! Just watch this introductory webinar.


You can see the full FAQ page HERE.

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