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Successful Storytelling in Persuasive Proposals GIFT Center The University of Arizona Foundation Grants for Brunch Thursday, April 8, 2010 copyright 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Successful Storytelling in Persuasive Proposals GIFT Center The University of Arizona Foundation Grants for Brunch Thursday, April 8, 2010 copyright 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Successful Storytelling in Persuasive Proposals GIFT Center The University of Arizona Foundation Grants for Brunch Thursday, April 8, 2010 copyright 2010

2 Warm-Up Exercise Grantwriters must be comfortable with descriptive words Adjectives and adverbs = friends

3 Warm-Up Exercise cont’d Describe your program or project using only accurate adjectives and adverbs (no nouns, no verbs, etc.) Try to come up with at least 5 to 7 words Cannot use unique or innovative

4 What’s this Program? Legal Clinical Low-income Affordable Hands-on Practical Helpful

5 Warm-Up Exercise Think Write down 5 to 7 adjectives or adverbs Find someone you don’t know Take turns

6 I’m waiting for a grant.”

7 Today’s Topics Tell a good story Transform a poorly written story

8 Storytelling in Proposals Why use? Used as a metaphor Used in the proposal itself Know your audience

9 Seven Writing Tips Write to a person Easy to read; no errors Use plain English; avoid jargon One writer; many reviewers

10 Writing Tips – cont’d Use energetic, positive style; strong words; present/future tense Support every fact; connections between cause and effect Tailor each submission; be brief!

11 Fixing Flawed Proposals Form vs. substance Self-correcting Editing others

12 Funder Survey Who was surveyed? What were their credentials? Where were they from?

13 Top Funder Preferences Thou shall... Use statistics/data to demonstrate Need 84% Use expert opinions to validate Need 65% Use a formal outcome evaluation system 65%

14 Top Funder “Pet Peeves” Thou shall not... Submit requests that don’t match guidelines 63% Submit incomplete applications 60% Submit bad budgets with proposals 54% Submit poorly written proposals 49%

15 Annoying Writing Styles Academic, abstract, vague, and/or pontificating writing 78% Florid writing 62% Poor grammar and bad spelling 60%

16 Writing Styles: Funder Comments “Jargon is annoying; big words when little will do is annoying.” Aaron Jacobs, Social Venture Partners “The most common bad writing style is vague, overblown, indirect language.” Lori McGlinchy, Open Society Institute

17 “I try to return the rejected proposals promptly; sometimes even before they get to their cars.”

18 Word Choice Matters Not too many adjectives and adverbs To address this most unfortunate and ghastly situation... Limit the number of $10 words Eleemosynary investment Metamorphose Indigent

19 Word Choice Example – “Before” Our field-tested performance assessment and learning system is designed to achieve systemic change in the academic setting and address curriculum fundamentals in order to provide high school students with valuable skills for college success as well as the foundation for work and citizenship in the 21 st century.

20 Word Choice – “After” #1 - Our proven program prepares high school students for success in college and lays the foundation for later success in work and life. #2 – ???

21 “I had a bad feeling with this proposal.”

22 Disorganized Proposals: Funder Comments “A bad impression. If we don’t have time to do a site visit to compensate for a bad proposal, the applicant is out of luck.” David Steven Rappoport Maine Health Access Foundation “It raises a red flag about the ability of the organization to carry our the project.” Denise San Antonio Zeman St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, OH

23 Disorganized Proposals Lacks flow and logical sequence Reflects poorly on applicant One writer, many reviewers

24 How to Organize Proposals? Follow funder guidelines Answer questions in order given What if there are no guidelines?

25 The Proposal Story Format Summary History/Mission Need/Problem Goals/Objectives Methods/Program Description Evaluation Future Funding Budget

26 Strong Openings Spark interest Deliver information Inspire the reader to continue

27 Opening Options Begin with a “hook” A quote, a question, a key fact Avoid gimmicks and clichés

28 Opening “Hook” Examples “Marin County’s alarming breast cancer rate is the number one public health issues,” says oncologist Leyna Smith, M.D. Are you aware that Marin County has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the U.S.? One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Marin County.

29 Super Creative Opening It was a classic “sting” operation. Two undercover law enforcement officers meet a potential buyer. They show the booty they have harvested in California’s remote forests. Once the buyer pays for the contraband, the officers reveal their identities and make the arrest.

30 Creative Opening cont’d This is an all-too-familiar scenario, but this “bust” is different. The harvest being offered isn’t drugs, but animal parts. Bear paws and gallbladders. Mountain lion heads. And the two officers are game wardens posing not as marijuana growers but as commercial poachers. Written by Susan Fox for the Mountain Lion Foundation

31 Openings - Writing Exercise Using a quote, question or key fact, write an opening hook for your program or project

32 Introduce Your Story’s Hero Who/what is the hero/protagonist in a proposal?

33 The Story’s Hero Create a well-developed character by establishing agency/department/ program/project credibility: Prior achievements and awards Number of clients/people served Noted people involved; faculty credentials

34 Hero Examples Since its founding in 1852, Mills College has been at the forefront of women’s higher education. Established in 1893, Arizona State Museum protects priceless artifacts of our Southwestern heritage and shares them with the people of Arizona and the world.

35 Hero Exercise Write one sentence to demonstrate credibility of department/program

36 Other Main Characters Who else is important in your proposal story? What are their common attributes? Who benefits outside the academic setting?

37 Main Characters: Examples People diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome Males ages 40 and older diagnosed with Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome

38 Describe the Setting Location, location, location

39 Location Example Mills College is located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area close to the Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial business community. The Mills College Center for Socially Responsible Business, which was launched in 2008, benefits from this close proximity to the nation’s incubator for new ideas and product innovation.

40 “Priorities fall on a scale from ‘It’s in the budget’ to ‘Only if it comes with a big fat grant’.”

41 Describe the Antagonist Who/what is the antagonist? Cannot assume the reader knows; funders want to know you know Core of your proposal

42 The Need: Five Questions Who are the people with the need? Where does the need occur/work is done?

43 The Need – cont’d When does the need occur? Time of day, month, year At a certain age When specific events or circumstances happen Other?

44 The Need – cont’d Why does the need occur? Technology not previously available Wasn’t previously considered a problem Insufficient funds* Other? * University or state budget cuts alone not sufficient

45 The Need – cont’d What are the costs or benefits? Costs to community or public if not addressed Benefits to community or public if addressed

46 The Need – cont’d Whose need is it anyway?

47 Evidence of the Need People believe both analytical and anecdotal evidence

48 Document the Need Use relevant data to support your case

49 Validate the Need Include expert opinion* Include an anecdote Incorporate dialogue *However, not at the level required for a gov’t grant

50 Needs Statement – “Before” These deficiencies of a synthesis of information and education directed towards preventing disease at root causes and promoting wellness result in a continued inability to motivate the public, both the professional sector providing care, and millions of women to pursue meaningful self care.

51 Needs Statement – “After” The lack of information and education about preventing disease at the root cause and promoting wellness results in an unmotivated public – both medical professionals providing care and millions of women pursuing self care.

52 Needs Statement Exercise Write very brief responses to the 5 questions: Who? Where? When? Why? What?

53 “Only a truly gifted proposal writer can reduce an exciting, visionary dream into measurable outcomes and unit costs.”

54 Pivotal Moment Something happens; intercession Change described in objectives Change achieved by methods

55 Change: Funder Comments “We want more than the numbers who walk in the door.” Ann McQueen, the Boston Foundation “An excellent proposal demonstrates the long-term impact (both individually and in the community) that the program has achieved.” Carole M. Watson, United Way of the Bay Area

56 “The foundation typically doesn’t resort to rock-paper-scissors for grant awards.”

57 Goals & Objectives Goals: eliminate, end, find, identify, determine, isolate, achieve Objectives: increase, decrease, raise, lower

58 Objectives Operational or process objectives = what things will be done Number of classes offered Vaccines given

59 Objectives Outcome objectives = impact on people or the community Increase adult literacy by 40% Reduce hospitalizations for cardiac patients by 20%

60 Objectives - Writing Exercise Write one goal and one objective

61 Methods/Program Description Answers how? Explains rationale May provide a timeline or benchmarks

62 Program Description “Before” Programs linking water conservation with environmental concerns activate public motivations for participating in water conservation and also offer communities a way to increase awareness of conservation potential and environmental water needs.

63 Program – Writing Exercise Edit the preceding sentence

64 Program Description – “After” [Studies show] the average citizen is more likely to participate in a water conservation program when the program is linked with environmental concerns. This type of program also offer communities a way to increase awareness of conservation potential and environmental water needs.

65 Evaluation: the Epilogue Funder cares about main characters Were objectives achieved & methods followed? What assessment tools and why? Build costs in budget

66 Future Funding Sustainability Strategy Funding Options

67 Summary Written last; placed first Mini-story; freestanding Include request

68 Chapter Titles Section headings = chapter titles Serve as guideposts & marketing copy

69 Chapter Titles The Problem Solved: New After School Program Will Reduce Juvenile Crime The Symphony’s 20-Year History of Musical Excellence Marin Horizon School Integrates Montessori Methodology in Curriculum

70 Budget Problems occur when: Poor program planning Failure to follow funder instructions Lack of communication between budget preparer and grantwriter No time for final check of the numbers

71 Budgets: Funder Comments “Some think a budget does not include income. We expect to have a clear picture where all funds are received and disbursed.” Judith Murphy of the Y&H Soda Foundation

72 Budget: Funder Comments “I want to see moderately detailed line items. For example, line items for advertising, rent and meeting expenses are helpful. A single line item for ‘staff’ is not.” Anne Vally, the James Irvine Foundation

73 Budget Tips Make sure numbers agree with narrative; double-check the math Include notes; no large (10% of total) unexplained items; explain UA shorthand Provide status of other funding Use the funder’s categories/line items

74 Quick Review Write Write to a person Write to a person with passion and creativity

75 “And the award for best revival of a previously rejected grant proposal goes to...”

76 Cheryl A. Clarke Trainer, Author & Consultant


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