Note: This only works if you've already written a few grants to use as template material! If you have, let's get started! This hack involves using a free tool called Trello to organize several of your best grant proposals in a way that allows you to find content quickly within them to reuse in a new proposal. Locating a key phrase or figure in seconds and making sure you're not rewriting something you've already created can often mean drafting an entire grant proposal in a fraction of the time it normally takes.

Gather your materials

Find all your best recent grant proposals with facts and figures you consider fresh enough to still use. Four or five proposals is a great number to start with. Gather them so you can easily view them together.

Create a account

Trello is a really cool productivity tool that allows you to organize an almost limitless variety of things in vertical columns called lists, which hold individual cards with tons of features for storing content.trello.com_.png


Create a board

1. Click on the 'Create' button in the upper navigation bar.2. Select 'Create board' from the options and give it a title like 'Proposal Library'.3. Click 'Create'.Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.23.51 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.23.51 PM.png

Add your first grant as a list

You'll see your Trello board with three default lists called 'To Do', 'Doing', and 'Done'. These are just placeholders to give people an idea of how they might use Trello, but we're going in a different direction.1. Rename the 'To Do' list by clicking on the title and write the name of the grantor of the first grant you're adding to the board and the year you submitted the grant. In my example, my fictional grantor is called, Better Tomorrow Foundation.trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (2).png

trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (2).png

Add questions and answers to cards in the list

1. Skip over any questions asking for basic information about your organization such as its name, address, and tax information and find the first question that required you to write a substantial answer.2. Highlight the question text and copy itScreen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.34.43 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.34.43 PM.png

3. Paste the question text as the title of the first card in the list and click 'Add card'.trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (3).png

trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (3).png

4. Highlight the answer text of the same question and copy itScreen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.39.44 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.39.44 PM.png

5. Click into the card you just created and paste the answer text into the Description section of the cardtrello.com_c_33idJIEq_1-please-give-a-brief-overview-of-your-organization-500-words.png


6. Repeat this for all the questions answers in this proposal7. Create a new list for each proposal you add and repeat these steps for each proposal. Each proposal should be its own list, each question should be the title of a new card, and each card should contain the answer in the description section as in Step 5 above.trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (4).png

trello.com_b_xJC645At_propoal-library (4).png

Use your Trello proposal library like an FAQ

Next time you draft a grant proposal, keep this Trello board open as a tab in your internet browser. When you come to a question, scan the board for any similar questions and click the card to see if the answer can be reused in your new proposal. If so, just copy the answer and paste it into your new proposal to customize.Remember to take a few minutes to add new grants to the board and to archive any outdated proposal lists so the information on your board stays fresh.I developed this hack years ago and have used it effectively on dozens of proposals, many of which I was able to draft in about an hour. The draft is a rough sketch and may require more time to refine it to a finished product.Pro tip: Once you have your board set up and working well, try delegating a smaller grant proposal to someone else on your team and give them access to your board. Show them how to use it and then have them draft a proposal for you to review together. I've found that using a Trello board proposal library helps to empower less experienced team members and interns to be able to draft grant proposals and learn about grant writing and the organization while doing so.Let me know what you think of this hack and any others you've come up with in the comments below!