The Art of Grant Writing

If I could be instantly fantastic at any one thing, it would be writing. I've always found words to be somewhat elusive. Despite spending more of my childhood with books than with people, I find myself struggling to articulate exactly what I mean. But I love good stories. So, as they say in Jurassic Park, life finds a way; I became a visual story teller, a job I though would require little to no writing. Imagine my horror when I found that you can never escape the need for written skills. In this case, grant writing. I recently had to turn in a grant for a possible project. To me, grant writing is one of the Big Bads of writing. Any time you're asking for money, it counts as a big bad, because what you're essentially doing is trying to get someone to believe in you and your cause.

Very intimidating, no?

Luckily, I have some of the best minds in the world helping me out. Because a grant proposal is basically an argument and story rolled into one, I used some of the narrative principles shared with me by my documentary professors. I'm sure that you've heard of the narrative arc:

  1. The introduction, or the status quo
  2. The rising action, or the start of the journey
  3.  The climax, or the height of emotion and action
  4. The denouement, or the resolution

The further I get into my documentary class, the more I've started to apply narrative structure to everything- even when I'm talking to my dog. Especially when I'm talking to my dog. The thing is, I think narrative structure is widely applicable- even to things like grants. 

The other half to my absolutely unscientifically-proven grant writing process came from a Ted Talk. Simon Sinek's "How great leaders inpire action," to be precise. Great leaders, our friend Simon argues, starts with the "Why" and not the "What." If you can find people who believe what you believe, it is an act of inspiration, not of convincing. 


Hanna Davison