Practice Makes Perfect!

The Key to Becoming a Great Grant Writer

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Based on studies in elite performance, Gladwell contended that it’s “an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields … you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good.”

This theory has been debated and often refuted. Gladwell admits there are some fields that this theory doesn’t apply to, sports, for example. In a response to the misinterpretation of his rule, Gladwell said the point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.

To become good at something you must practice. For the average person, it doesn’t just automatically happen.

If that’s the case, then why do many people assume you can become a good grant writer by taking one class?

That’s an unrealistic expectation.

I frequently tell students in my grant writing courses that the only way to learn to write grants is to actually write them.

You get better over time. Even in the failures you learn something. Actually, when it comes to writing grants, you learn more from your failures.

So, don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself after taking a course. Accept that you won’t know everything all at once.

The worst thing you can do is take a course and do nothing. Instead, here are some concrete things you can do. 

  1. Volunteer your services. There’s a nonprofit organization that would appreciate anything you can offer to assist them in raising funds. Even if you can’t command a fee for your skills, you will be rewarded with experience, which ultimately builds your confidence and your resume.
  2. Connect with professional organizations in the nonprofit and grant writing industry. The more people you can network with, the more you can learn about what’s happening in your community. This will also give you the opportunity to let people know that you’re a new grant writer and you’re looking to get involved in a project.
  3. Invest in an online subscription to stay abreast of grant opportunities and relevant industry news and events. A few examples include, Foundation Center, Grant Professionals Association, and Grant Station.
  4. Enroll in more courses. Select courses that build on the skills you’ve already gained, not just rehash the same things you’ve already learned.

If you’re looking for a new grant writing course, I have one that begins Monday, April 30th. It’s called Strategic Storytelling: The Secret to Being a Successful Grant Writer.  It will provide you with the practice you need to get better. Registration is open now.