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  • Writer's pictureTina Crouse

THE IMPACT LEAK – Grant writing. Are you hockey or rugby?

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

- What impacts the good we do?

Grant writing is time consuming. Many organizations don’t even track how long they spend on them. Do people really want to know? It is also a team sport. Grant writers can’t do it alone: there has to be a concept, program fit, budget fit, mission fit, client need and of course, agreement. But when your organization is creating a grant proposal, are you playing hockey or rugby?

Hockey is a fast game that needs strategy. It may not look like it with so much skill on the ice but ask yourself, how many players are there on the team? One? You’re mistaken if you think one player does it all. This is the same with grant writing. It needs a strategy; different players passing the information and decisions along. There’s a lot of off-ice discussions and the ‘score’ is always celebrated by all. And while it’s hard to admit, there is competition and this ultimately decides the projects that will be funded.

Grant writing takes teamwork, like playing hockey.

Photo by April Walker via UnSplash

But this isn’t how many nonprofits do grant writing. Instead, it looks more like a rugby scrum. Everyone is in on it; meetings with 20+ staff; programs/depts deciding they need a piece of it; fighting over the activities that should be done; frustration, anger; exhaustion. And then, the Board. Who’s deciding what and when it gets done? This is about a project, remember? Did anyone ask the frontline staff if they can accomplish it? Or did the meetings go on and on with a failed concept, personal agendas and a huge amount of time wasted BEFORE the grant was even written. Are people asking themselves if this is worth it?

Grant writing and rugby can take a lot of effort!

Photo by Olga Guryanova via UnSplash

In a rugby scrum, the ball is eventually moved and scoring occurs but the effort is immense. Hockey needs the strategy to work right away because people are on the fly, so cooperation, knowing the game and following through on decisions quickly is how you score.

In the grant writing world, a good ‘play’ is not enough. You have to try the strategy many times and sometimes, with many funders. You have to adjust with each submission and be willing to go at it again. Scoring is time consuming, labour intensive but ultimately, very satisfying and essential.

Grant writing can be played rugby or hockey style but look above and decide which method takes the least effort so you can choose which way your organization should play.


Tina Summer 2020.JPG
Written By Tina Crouse

Tina Crouse is the CEO of, a tech4good social enterprise on a mission to strengthen the nonprofit sector. Tina's career has spanned more than 2 decades in the charitable sector with a specialty in grant development.  She has created a number of ‘firsts’ in Canada and has worked at 3 tech companies, heading up 2 social enterprises.

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