How to Bake a Just Write Proposal

Mar 14, 2024 | Grant Writing

Hands kneading dough

How many of us dreamed of being a grant writer at age 12?

Yeah, me neither.

I also never dreamed of being a baker. Yet here I am with 25+ years of grant writing and fundraising experience and an addiction to the lovely amateur contestants on the Great British Bake Off. (Yes, I rewatch my favorite seasons even when I know who will win.)

Just like it takes more than a sweet tooth and a spatula to win GBBO, grant writing is more than staring at a screen and forcing words onto a page.

If you’re feeling stuck in your current role and yearning for more leadership opportunities, or if you’re considering a shift into other areas of fundraising or nonprofit administration, know that you have considerable skills that are more transferable than you may think.

Being a grant professional is like being a contestant on the Great British Bake Off, only with less sugar and more stress. To succeed, you must:

Nail the Recipe (Writing): Grammar and punctuation are your flour and sugar—you have to have them just right.
Master the Technical Challenge (Budgeting): Budgets and financials are your soggy bottom – avoid them at all costs (but know how to fix them if they happen).
Win Over the Judges (Stakeholders): Wrangle your team like a pro baker wrangling unruly dough. You need everyone on board for the perfect project.
Temper the Dream with Reality (Balancing Expectations): Leaders have wild ideas; grants have rules. You’re the judge deciding what gets baked (funded).
Become a Jack (or Jackie) of All Trades (Communication): Talk to everyone – board members, colleagues, even grumpy grant makers. You must understand all the ingredients (needs) in the mix.
See it Through to the End (Project Management): From oven (application) to cooling rack (reporting), you shepherd the whole project, making sure nothing gets burnt.
Learn a New Recipe Every Time (Tech Savvy): New online platforms? Glitchy software? You’ll be the baking pro figuring it out, even if you want to throw it all in the bin.
Keep the Funders Happy (Communication): They have the dough (money). Make sure they know how their investment is rising (being used).
Herd Cats (Collaboration): Getting everyone to cooperate on a grant proposal is like wrangling a room of toddlers hopped up on sugar. Good luck.

That’s just a taste of the skills you’ll hone as a grant “pro.” If you can juggle all that and churn out proposals like a well-oiled KitchenAid, you’re building a skillset that can take you anywhere. Grant writing might not be your childhood dream, but it can be the springboard to a surprisingly versatile career.

Kimberly Hays de Muga
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