Next up in The Value Series is Excellence! I am excited to share how we view excellence (and it's probably very different than you'd think). Excellence is defined as "the quality of being outstanding or extremely good". Excellence is not defined as being perfect.
Read that again. Excellence is not defined as being perfect.
I have found so many times that when I think of excellence my first thought has immediately gone to doing something perfect. I don't know if it was my third grade teacher or something I heard from someone else, but I had to realize that excellence isn't perfection - and no human being can perfect at that.
For Sharpshooter, our value of Excellence is recognizing that perfection is the realm of the Divine and that we are not God. SC team members strive not for perfection, but for excellence in all things. To achieve excellence, our commodities will consistently have few or no errors, conform to the appropriate style, be completed before deadlines, follow best practices in the field of fundraising, exhibit creativity and reflect the client’s brand. Our internal practices will follow all laws, professional ethical standards and company policy, be produced accurately and be completed on time.
What I love about this value is that we are very clear that we are not God. There are some things (like writing a federal grant with 5 days notice for an organization who isn't already a client) that are nearly impossible. We will always strive to do the nearly impossible, however while we cannot guarantee that we can, we can guarantee that the work we do will be intentional, thorough and consistent.
To be a successful grant writer, you must embody excellence in your management, writing and goal-meeting. For Sharpshooter, we build upon that to include creativity, ethics and reflecting the clients' brand.
Oftentimes when I've read blogs or articles about "excellent grant writing" there is very little about adapting your style of writing to reflect the energy, look and feel of the organization. That is a huge part in grant writing that I feel can be overlooked.
Grants are a form of storytelling - and that's not just because we have a theatre professional on staff. Everything you present to a funder tells the story of our organization beyond just the background, but how you are saving the world.
We have a client who I love to describe as (not) sickeningly sweet. They love to include the sunshine, rainbows and happy tears in everything that they put out into the world - including in their grant applications. That touch of personality is unique to them, and I've found that funders remember their applications because while the technical elements of grant writing are present, the personality of the organization is too. You feel that joy when you walk into their building, and you feel that joy when you read their grant applications.
That to me is embodying excellence, and something we always strive to do at Sharpshooter!