Powerful use of storytelling in grant proposals

August 23, 2017

Sheila Montgomery, Director of Corporate & Foundation Philanthropic Giving, Children’s Mercy Hospital

Sheila Montgomery was introduced to the nonprofit sector as an inaugural member of AmeriCorps. She dove deeper into fundraising when she took a job as a development associate at the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross in 1996 . Since then, she’s worked in annual giving, planned and major gifts, special events and grant writing for Children’s Mercy Hospital, the Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Operation Breakthrough, and Saint Luke’s Hospital.  She currently serves as the director of corporate and foundation giving at Children’s Mercy. Sheila earned her BA in English Literature from UMKC in 1991 and obtained her CFRE credential in 2001. She’s been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 1998.


1.) Do what you say you’re going to do. So much gets accomplished just by making that call, or sending that letter of intent, or following through with that email. It’s easy to get distracted, but don’t. Do the hard work first. Eat your vegetables. Knock it out. The older I get, the more I see procrastination as the top job killer.

2.) It’s not about you. Our egos are always at play, especially in fundraising when we’re trying to land that big gift. But being humble is golden. It keeps you curious and out of the B.S. zone. It also makes you a nicer person to hang out with. 

3.) Use fewer words. In grant writing, or any writing, comb through your sentences and get rid of “to be” verbs and anything else extraneous.  Brevity and clarity win every time.


1.) Nonprofit Connect hosts several excellent grant writing sessions led by area experts, including Assel Consulting and Encore Nonprofit Solutions.

2.) Kansas City has a local chapter of the Grant Professionals Association filled with geeky, wonderful grant writers. They meet quarterly over lunch. (Also, take a look at the Program Logic Model I mention on the podcast.)

3.) I just ordered the book Grantsmanship: Program Planning and Proposal Writing by the Grantsmanship Center’s Executive Director, Barbara Floersch. I should have bought this years ago.