How Grant Writing is Like Building with LEGO by Roxanne Jensen, Ed. S., GPC


Who says that playing with LEGO bricks is just for kids? Grant writing is like building with LEGO. Both grant writing projects and LEGO involve a process of building and assembling different pieces to create a coherent and structured outcome. They require a foundation, a solid structure, and precision. However, there is also a sense of creativity in the process. Many times, both grant writing projects require collaboration. Finally, there is the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you complete the project.

  1. Foundation: Just like LEGO requires a solid base or foundation to build upon, grant writing begins with establishing a foundation. This includes understanding the purpose of the grant, the organization’s mission, and the goals that the grant aims to achieve.
  2. Structure: In LEGO, each piece is carefully selected and connected to create a stable structure. In grant writing, it is important to select and organize the necessary components, such as project description, budget, timeline, and evaluation plan, to create a well-structured grant proposal. Sometimes you have a structure (pattern); Sometimes you must create from scratch (freeform).
  3. Creativity: LEGO offers a wide range of pieces that can be combined in different ways to create unique designs. Likewise, grant writing requires creativity in presenting ideas, solutions, and approaches to address the needs identified in each grant application. Building for the sake of building helps LEGO lovers discover new techniques. The same is true for grant writers, writing for the sake of writing helps develop creativity in our expression.
  4. Refinement: Building with LEGO often involves trial and error, adjusting and rearranging pieces until the desired outcome is achieved. Grant writing is also a process where you may need to revise and refine the proposal multiple times based on feedback and changing requirements. Both grant writing and LEGO promote goal setting and problem-solving to reach those goals, each very necessary in a results-driven world.
  5. Collaboration: LEGO can be a collaborative activity (LEGO Masters, anyone?), with multiple people working together to build something. Grant writing is a team effort, with individuals contributing their expertise to different sections of the proposal, such as program design, budgeting, and evaluation. The greatest projects in LEGO and in grant writing are created collaboratively. It takes others to help you “think outside the square,” work under a time crunch, or ensure your team is equipped to face the challenges which lie ahead.
  6. Completed Project: Both LEGO and grant writing have a completed project. With LEGO, it is a physical creation, while with grant writing, it’s the funding and support needed to implement a project or program that can make a positive impact.

While grant writing and LEGO are distinct activities, drawing parallels between them can help illustrate the process and mindset required for successful grant writing. Both involve creativity, attention to detail, structure, and the ability to assemble various components to achieve a desired outcome.

This BLOG is aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills

Competency #4: Knowledge of how to craft, construct, and submit an effective grant application

Skill 4.6: Identify proposal-writing approaches, styles, tones, and formats appropriate for proposing organizations and various audiences.