It’s not that I think I don’t have useful or helpful qualities. What happens is I forget that my useful or helpful qualities are, in fact, not qualities that everyone else already has.
More specifically, as I have been working with my amazing new partner (administrative help, but oh-so-much more) for grantwinners.net, I’ve let a bit of light shine on some of my more self-defeating weaknesses.
As I am showing her how I prepare for grants (in particular, how I do research), I’m reminded that the things I’ve learned about winning grants over the last 10 years are not common knowledge.
It is my belief that the best people to tell the stories of an organization are the people who live those stories. The staff, that is, share their passion for their organization’s work better than I could—in some respects. It’s that “in some respects” part that I have both not recognized but have also felt uncomfortable sharing with potential new clients.
Truly, the people who are in the day-to-day of the programs know the stories best. But, with my experience, I know how to take those stories and find where they fit the funders’ missions. I make excellent matches between the missions of organizations and the missions of funders (74% success rate in 2012, it turns out, which I think isn’t too shabby). I can work with writing provided by clients to turn it into stories highlighting the most relevant (to the funder) information.
When I taught a grant writing workshop at the United Way of York County a year or so ago, I didn’t expect people to find it as helpful as they did. It was such an easy workshop to teach. I mostly just talked about things I had learned over the years and, again, I was surprised to realize what I knew wasn’t common knowledge.
With my administrative partner’s help, I’ve become a lot more aware of the real service I could be to organizations who need to find grant funding. In addition to my own excellent research and writing skills, I manage a team of researchers, writers, and editors who really know what they are doing. I only work with people who I can say, “here’s this, could you do it?” and I will know they will do the most excellent work possible.
During the toughest times in the last couple-few years, I’ve been forced to learn how to ask for help. Asking someone else to do what I believe I should do is still nearly impossible for me. But, asking my friend to work for me as a senior team member in charge of administrative aspects of grantwinners.net was one of the greatest moves I’ve ever made professionally. Not only am I getting more organized than I ever have been before, I am recognizing that it’s not entirely self-serving to say to an organization, “I can help you.”
Saying “I can help you” to an organization feels self-serving because I really need more work. So, of course, I am motivated to have organizations recognize what grantwinners.net might add to their grants program. Knowing how much I want the work makes me suspicious of my own motivations. That said, I would never suggest an organization hire grantwinners.net if I didn’t sincerely believe we could be of service. Now that I have this beautiful reflective surface (my administrative partner), I’m dusting off the “I can help” and recognizing my sincerity matters. In a lot of cases, when non-profit organizations need to improve their grants program, I can help.
Now, can you help? If you know of organizations that might benefit from professional assistance with grants, please consider sharing with them the link to grantwinners.net. I’m very good at what I do, and I’d like more work. I would also, just as much, like for groups who are working hard to improve our world to benefit from my experience.