Often when I speak with leaders of grant-funded organizations, they describe a conundrum, which is they recognize the advantage of adding grantseeking capacity by hiring a grant writer, and yet wrestle with the uncertainty of whether or not someone from outside can reproduce the organization's voice authentically.

Build the relationship to find the voice

An experienced grant writer will have mastered the ability to mimic word choice, intuitively highlight an organization's most compelling passages, and weave the pieces together skillfully. It may take some time for the client and the writer to fine tune exactly how the narrative sings, but it usually happens within a proposal or two.

What is often overlooked when people ask this question about authenticity is what happens to the organization's narrative voice if the person mainly responsible for relentlessly pumping out one grant proposal after another grows weary of the work. What happens when the words lose their luster and writing becomes simply a matter of fitting boilerplate together?

Burnout can impact writing quality

When tired eyes look over the same phrases, they stop seeing new ways to combine writing and data to catch the attention of a particular grantor. They may miss an opportunity to refresh an old anecdote with a more recent milestone. A grant writer who brings not only skills and experience to the role, but also a fresh enthusiasm for the mission of the client, is actually a strategy for keeping the organization's storytelling alive and breathing.

Freshness and enthusiasm are always authentic

Grant writing is a lot like singing in this way. One voice can be supported by others or joined with many in a chorus for a powerful effect. The singers give and receive energy from one another. The power of the song is amplified and harmonized from the many registers and perspectives. And yet even with all these voices, the melody comes through more clearly than ever.