Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference

Reconciling Ahern: A critical look at what grant writers can (and can’t) learn from direct mail: This presentation has been accepted for the 2019 GPA Conference in Washington DC. It starts with the idea, now well-founded in the research on human decision making, that people are more compassionate toward a single, identifiable person in need, compared to a "statistical victim" or a greater cause. We even know that statistics tend to spoil an emotional appeal. Our colleagues in direct-mail and e-mail fundraising have learned this well. But where does that leave us with our needs statements and evidence-based models? Let’s grapple with the tension between emotional and logical appeals.


Data Visualization Basics: Telling your story in charts, graphs, and maps: I gave this presentation at the GPA Conference in November 2017 in San Diego. By communicating visually, grant writers and other development professionals can make their case succinctly, precisely, and with authority. This session teaches the basic principles and best practices of data visualization, helping newcomers to the field get started on the right foot and helping more experienced data users make improvements in their chart making.


Readability Stats: How to Write with Greater Power, Clarity, and Economy: I gave this presentation at the GPA Conference in November 2016 in Atlanta. You can use Readability Statistics to measure your writing and say more with fewer words. The session teaches how to use this little-­known tool in Microsoft Word, how to interpret scores, and a few techniques for improving your readability score.


Brains, Courage, Heart, and the Other: Using Temperament Theory to Reach Every Reviewer: I gave this presentation at the GPA Conference in November 2015 in St. Louis. I described how to use David Keirsey's Temperament Theory to broaden the appeal of grant proposals. Effectively reaching your audience requires speaking to a diverse group of reviewers, each with his or her own priorities and core values.


Grant Writing

Clear, concise, compelling proposals

“Grant writing” fails to describe the complexity of the task – words are only part of a successful grant proposal or business plan. To make the case for your idea, you need to gather, organize, and analyze the data. When given the opportunity, you must tell your story in images, including photos, informational graphics, and GIS maps. And you must present a budget that is realistic, competitive, and easy to understand.

I have deep experience as a professional communicator in all these areas. For the past decade, I have served at nonprofit organizations and in higher education as a youth service worker, job trainer, marketing manager, and development professional.

I enjoy the challenge of taking an idea, matching it to a funding opportunity, and winning grants and investments that make an impact in the lives of people. While I am a pretty busy guy, I do look for opportunities to assist organizations in their pursuit of grants and contracts, often in a consulting role.

It is important to remember that grant writing is only part of the larger – and even more time-consuming – process of cultivating relationships with supporters. Oftentimes even the best proposals will fail in the absence of a relationship, especially when approaching foundations with local roots. A grant writer might play a critical role in your fund development efforts, but is unlikely to fulfill all of your fundraising needs.

Think you could use my help? For a no-cost, commitment-free consultation, e-mail me.