by David Tandet

What do well-written screenplays and successful grant proposals have in common? A lot, it turns out. Jonathan O’Brien explains all about it in his classic Right Before You Write.

O’Brien’s “Almost World Famous Seven Cs” can be applied to both disciplines. If it sounds like a gimmick, well yours truly is for any gimmick responsible for winning more than $600 million dollars in competitive grant awards. (O’Brien’s team at K&M Enterprises passed the half billion mark – nearly double what it was – since his book went to press.) As a successful screenwriting instructor, the author is qualified on that end too.

Actually, through all of O’Brien’s wit the clearest message coming through is that gimmickry has no place in the world of successful grant writing. What counts is work and more hard work.

That won’t be a disappointing revelation for most grant writers and 501(c)(3) administrators trying to get funding. What will provide some new perspective are O’Brien’s suggestions for organized planning and effective teamwork before any letter of inquiry (LOI) is even begun.

The approach is designed to modify and improve program services to address the vision of the funding agency rather than conform the requirements of the funding agency’s grant application to a pre-existing program.

That might initially seem counterintuitive to some applicants. But it gets those seeking funding thinking in some really positive ways, doing some very creative things for the benefit of those who can be helped. For one thing, it encourages collaboration among applicants. It ends up helping those in the community who have the most to gain if a grant is awarded.

The method described in Right Before You Write does not guarantee funding — nothing can do that. But O’Brien says that the system he’s followed will help get your proposal into the small group that is seriously considered for funding. (After that, as O’Brien puts it, it’s up to “the grant gods.”)

After over $600 million in competitive grant awards, who could argue?

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Post filed under Grant Writing, Marketing Communications, Reliability, Reputation, Writing Tips.