The most successful grant seekers are able to utilize effective teams. Not all individuals on your team may end up being part of the grant, but they will define the way the entire process of the grant request is assessed, constructed and written. You will need people on the team who understand the institutional mission and direction, and know what works well with the existing funds as well as what would work better with additional funds. Ultimately, effective teams create proposals that are innovative and have a high potential to be funded. So who do you want on your team?
- Proactive Thinkers are those who have the ability to develop clear and focused ideas that advance the mission of the institution. They will need to anticipate the future rather than be overwhelmed and react only to the present. They will clearly define the grant objectives and action plans that will then be broken down into activities that parallel the resources and specific timelines of a proposal. They will create benchmarks to guide them throughout the various phases of the process. In other words, they are proactive planners.
- Realistic Innovators are those who know what works, but also perceive what could work better with an approach that may not have been used before. They understand that paradigm shifts and innovative approaches may give them an edge when it comes to the competition. They are also realistic about what can be achieved within a given amount of time and with the personnel they have available.
- Problem Solvers will seek to understand first and ask to be understood secondly. They anticipate what some of the stumbling blocks may be and how to avoid them or find the appropriate solutions to address them. They know how to establish teams and build bridges among departments, disciplines, and external partners. Additionally, they know how best to form relationships with their partners and donors.
- Clear Thinkers are those who can evaluate and analyze the evidence, consider alternative approaches, make judgments based on what is doable, and ask questions at every stage. Their purpose is to get as close as possible to what can be accomplished in the best and most efficient way. Clear thinkers recognize that their own background, education, and prejudices can lead to blind spots, as can relying on conventional wisdom. They strive to overcome these barriers by remaining alert to self-delusion and groupthink.
- Excellent Writers are also excellent communicators who utilize a voice that is appropriate for the level of the reader.They understand that the heart of the writing should be the idea, which should be logical and effectively lead the reader from the broad concept to the specifics. They should be excellent storytellers who successfully carry the reader from one idea to the next. Good writers use just the right words to say just the right things in ways that are easy to understand and enjoyable to read. Although they may not be editors, it would be an added advantage if they are also excellent grammarians who value consistency and effective transitions.
A winning team is one that brings the talents of many into one final and engaging document. The cumulative strengths of each of the above persons can guarantee success. This can happen if all the members of the team have mutually-agreed aims and objectives, and everyone has a clear understanding of how to achieve them. They will all need to understand that first-rate grant writers utilize a proactive approach, looking to the future in order not to be overwhelmed by last minute submissions.
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