Grant Writing

The Art of Grant Writing – It’s All About The Mission

Prior to sitting down to write a grant proposal it’s crucial that you have a solid understanding of the mission, goals and objectives of the organization.

Who am I representing in my writing? What is the value added as a result of the work? How are lives being changed?

The answers to these questions are found in well thought out, properly written, outcomes based mission, goals and objectives. With these in place, your job as a grant writer becomes easier. You evaluate grant opportunities based on their fit with your mission; your outcomes are clearly defined making it easy to show that your program is successful; and you craft your language and story telling around the value added to the world from lives improved through your work.

In graduate school, I took a course on strategic planning from Philip Lesser, a Vice President at Bostrom Corporation (
Dr. Lesser shared his model of strategic planning, defining mission goals and objectives in a different way than I had ever heard before that makes incredibly good sense. I credit him with providing me the foundation for this thinking, which I share here together with my own spin.


  • Mission drives all activity
  • Stated in terms of outcomes and benefits, rather than activity
  • Answers the questions:
  • Why do we exist?
  • What is the value added?
  • How will the world be a better place?
  • Mission is for the life of the organization- it never changes


  • What must be accomplished to carry out the mission?
  • Generic, broad in scope, mission critical
  • Stated in terms of outcome- what change was brought about because of the work?


  • The “What” in clear, specific, concrete and measurable terms
  • Change annually based on priorities (mission and goals stay the same)
  • Offer flexibility while remaining true to your goal
  • Not stated in how to or action- stated in terms of benefits to people

You can use this model of strategic thinking as a guide to looking at your own organization- how do they define these critical elements? How will I know when success has been achieved? Do I have a solid mission to fall back on when presented with an intriguing grant opportunity? What am I writing about??? If you cannot answer these questions, it’s time to slow down, take a step back and find the answers so you can move forward in crafting successful grant proposals for your organization.