Tag Archives: grant writing

Smart Grant Writing: Workshop Outline

Lesson 1: Getting Ready for Grant Writing

  • A step-by-step method to turn your idea into a fundable grant project.
  • The 12 questions to ask before you start any grant writing project so you can be ready to tell the funding source exactly what they want to know.
  • 7 ways to improve your grant’s chance of success before you turn on your computer to type.
  • How to position yourself for grant funding even if your organization is brand new, has no track record, or a small operating budget.

Lesson 2: Finding the Right Funding Source

  • You will learn the top sources of grant funding in the United States.
  • How to use two websites that put a wealth of grant opportunities at your fingertips – no more endless searching.
  • How to pick the funding agencies that are most likely to say “yes” to your project.
  • What to write in a letter of inquiry to pique a foundation’s interest.

Lesson 3: Understanding the Grant Application

  • How to understand the language of grant application guidelines, a.k.a. request for proposal (RFP), request for application (RFA), or funding opportunity announcement (FOA).
  • How to use the grant application as a reference which allows you to find the information you need to know without going crazy trying to read 50 to 100 pages of grant lingo all at once.
  • The 12 key items to look for in any grant application and how to find them.
  • The differences between government and foundation grant applications and why this matters.

Lesson 4: Planning the Grant Writing Process

  • How to create a timeline for writing with multiple mini-deadlines.
  • How to establish sources of information for your proposal so you can avoid writer’s block.
  • How to identify and work with key people or project partners during the grant writing process.
  • The importance of identifying all of the supporting documents that will be required – forms, letters, signature pages, or other attachments early, and how to get the ball rolling on getting them completed.

Lesson 5: Constructing a Case for Funding that Flows

  • 10 features of a funded grant proposal, and how they fit together.
  • How to outline your writing, section by section, into one logical case for funding.
  • How to determine the optimal length for each section of your proposal…..so you will waste no words and maximize your score.
  • Simple ways to organize your grant proposal at the outset for easy reading and scoring.

Lesson 6: Writing a Compelling Problem (or Needs) Statement

  • 7 helpful tips for convincing a funding agency to contribute to a worthy cause in your community (not someone else’s).
  • Time-saving sources of statistics to document the need for your project.
  • Eye-catching ways to display information to strengthen your case for funding.
  • How to breathe life into your problem statement so as to trigger compassion and urgency in the grant reader.

Lesson 7: Stating Clear Goals and Objectives

  • How to write goals that create the dynamic feeling of a win-win with the funding agency.
  • Words you should and should not use when stating your objectives.
  • To follow our proven, 4-step formula for wording objectives – all you have to do is fill in the blanks!
  • How to avoid the #1 mistake novice grant writers make when writing goals and objectives that will KILL your chances of being funded.

Lesson 8: Pitching a Powerful Plan of Action

  • Our 7 secrets for selling your solution to a problem.
  • How to pair your activities with measurable benefits. This one strategy will make your action plan stand out among the competition.
  • Easy ways to organize your activities on a timeline so the reader can understand your action plan at a glance.  (You’ll get several templates for this).
  • Guidelines (and helpful models) for citing research to add credibility to your methods.

Lesson 9: Conveying Your Capacity, Credibility, and Commitment

  • Confidence-building ways to communicate your organization’s mission and history, even if your organization is new.
  • How to describe the expertise of key people – even if they haven’t been hired yet!
  • How to develop Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Letters of Commitment with other agencies to demonstrate community support for your project. (You will see examples of these from funded proposals to make it easy to write your own).
  • More tips to let to funder know the project will be in capable hands.

Lesson 10: Designing an Effective Evaluation Plan

  • Ideas for measuring the success of your grant project to assure the funder you are serious about delivering real results.
  • How to speak (and write) the language of an evaluator, even if you don’t have a background in statistics or research.
  • How to get a professional evaluation plan written for you – absolutely free!
  • How to know when you should involve a third-party evaluator and what questions you should ask when interviewing one.

Lesson 11: Building a Better Budget

  • Easily adaptable formats for displaying budgets and writing budget narratives.
  • Our handy formulas for showing estimated expenses to indicate that you’ve done your homework and are responsible with money.
  • Tips for linking your budget to your action plan to prove that every dollar will contribute to the cause.
  • Creative ideas for showing matching resources to give the funder the most for their money.

Lesson 12: Packing Your Proposal with Persuasion

  • Promising ways to promote your ideas as an authority….and be seen as an expert on your topic.
  • Our 7 Golden Rules of Grant Writing that have proven successful in bringing in grant money for over 10 years.
  • Clever techniques for making your key points pop off the page so that your reader will not miss them.

Lesson 13: Summarizing Your Story

  • How to write an impressive introduction – thus capturing the reader’s attention in the opening lines and make a positive first impression.
  • How to pack your proposal into a 1-2 page executive summary or abstract – to clarify the bigger picture for the busiest of bureaucrats.
  • How to turn your executive summary or abstract into an invitation to read more.
  • When to mention money in a proposal summary – and where.

Lesson 14: Polishing and Packaging Your Final Presentation

  • To create and use checklists to confirm that your content is complete. (You’ll get the checklists we use).
  • Our error-free editing advice so you can look for and catch the most common errors made in grant proposals (you’ll get a list of these, to save you from learning the hard way!).
  • How to handle all the forms and supporting documents (MOUs, resumes, letters, newspaper articles, etc.) without getting a headache.
  • How to avoid mailing mistakes so that your grants gets there by the deadline.

Nicholas Holton

Contact Information:

610 W. Rose City Road
Rose City, MI USA 48654


Work: (989) 275-5000 ext. 412
Home: (989) 685-3290

Skype: NicholasHolton

Beechwood Communications

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Working Portfolio:
Download Resume

Nick Holton_Profile Pic 2013

Nicholas Holton has worked as a professional educator his whole career. First as a math instructor and now at a community college as an Associate Dean for General Education, Nicholas has been a leader in innovation by design. His workshops have visited four continents, and include strategic planning, appreciative inquiry, service learning, and engaged learning techniques. He is sought out as an invited speaker and his keynote and other presentations draw an international audience. Nicholas’ appreciative inquiry teams work with small nonprofits and whole community colleges. He conducted an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Workshop (AIFT) in Perth, Australia and his clients are located all over the world including: Scotland, Chile and India. His professional passions include anything that helps people improve the human condition. He is committed to this also in he personal life as he sits on several nonprofit boards and volunteers regularly at community events.



  • Appreciative Inquiry Consulting & Training
  • Board Training & Retreats
  • Faculty Development
  • Grant Writing
  • Keynote & Plenary Presentations
  • Large-Scale Summit Design
  • Leadership Development & Training
  • Non-Profit Services
  • Organizational Development
  • Service Learning
  • Small Business Consulting
  • Strategic Development
  • Student Leadership Training
  • Workshop Facilitation


  • Community College: Is it right for you?
  • Incorporating Service Learning Into a Traditional Curriculum
  • Indicators of Engaged Institutions
  • Myths Of Service Learning
  • Reaching Out, While Reaching In
  • Rural Service Learning: Special Obstacles and Great Opportunities
  • Service Learning On A Shoestring
  • Service Learning: What Works And What Doesn’t!”
  • Tech Prep and Service Learning: A Natural Combination
  • Top Ten Issues Related to Successful Service Learning Experiences”
  • Using Appreciative Inquiry To Transform Your Teaching

Appreciative Inquiry Summits:

  • Campus Compact Presidential Summit: Facilitator
  • College Wide Strategic Planning Summit
  • Great Start Collaborative Strategic Planning
  • HeadStart Strategic Planning
  • National Rural Service Learning Summit
  • National Summit, Event facilitator
  • Service Learning Advisory Board Strategic Planning
  • Strategic Planning, COP Collaborative


  • Appreciative Inquiry Strategic Planning Workshop
  • Appreciative Inquiry Team Building
  • Appreciative Inquiry Team Building Workshop
  • Developing Our Strengths: Appreciating Our Differences
  • Faculty Course Design Workshop
  • Faculty Workshop on Service Learning


  • Reframing The Social Contract in Higher Education


  • Issues in Rural Service Learning


  • Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT), Co-trainer
  • Creating High Performance Teams Using Appreciative Inquiry
  • International Service Learning: Guatemala & Nicaragua
  • ACTS Academy (Bangalore, India)
  • American Association of Community Colleges
  • Central Michigan University
  • Community College National Center for Civic Engagement
  • Company of Experts
  • Georgia State Government
  • Great Start Collaborative
  • Houston Community College
  • Kirtland Community College
  • Lake Superior State University
  • Macomb Community College
  • Michigan Campus Compact
  • MSU Extension
  • North East Michigan Community Service Agency
  • Northern Essex Community College
  • Northern Michigan University
  • Oakland Community College
  • Ogemaw County Humane Society
  • Rondo Tree Service
  • Rose City Greenhouse
  • Rural Alliance for Service Learning
  • Rural Community College Alliance
  • Smart Schools Foundation
  • St. Clair Community College
  • University of Alaska
  • “I have known Nick since 2009, and was fortunate enough to take part in an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) that he tutored. The four days of the AIFT were both inspiring and exciting, and Nick made the training relevant to the wide variety of participants. I have also followed with interest Nick’s service learning program, and am impressed that all of his students think so highly of him.” ~ Anne Tierney, Senior University Teacher at University of Glasgow
  • “Mr. Holton, as I have addressed him for the last 27 years, was my high school math teacher who became what I consider my mentor. Five years ago, as I did some grant writing for his company, he thought it was time I called him by his first name. I just couldn’t due to the enormous amount of respect I have for this man. His motto has always been learn more, better yourself, and hopefully as a result make the world a better place. This is what he encourages, inspires, and aids others to do, whether they are students, business associates, or friends. I feel privileged to have been all three!“~ Michelle Jacobs, Independent Consultant, Electrical & Controls Engineers at Match Point Controls, LLC