This grant blog addresses the following topics:

  • Lessons from my sister’s email
  • How to explain a complex subject matter in a simple way
  • How we won the $149,000 technology developer grant

Don’t Wait! Download our “Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant” PDF here –


I want to set the record straight right off the bat.

On the “give-take” measurement scale, my sister Kendra has given me WAY MORE than I have given her to date.

She picked me up off the floor from an early-twenties divorce, gave me a couch to sleep on when I moved to Alberta, and to this day looks after Chopper when I travel.

 My dog, Chopper. He’s a great dog.

My dog, Chopper. He’s a great dog.

Kendra was actually a Global Women of Vision the year Premier Notley won the award. You can see Kendra’s video here:

I’ll feature my other sister, Karla, in another blog. She is a gem too.


One of the ways I give back to Kendra is editing some of her work. She makes her living directing airplanes, not sitting in front of a screen writing words.

She sent me a draft email last weekend and wanted my feedback. After we talked she said that I “should teach a writing course.” I said that “I don’t have time to do it well, so I can’t.”

Having said that, I want to show you a few tips that can dramatically improve your grant writing (or business writing for that matter).

Almost everybody gets these wrong. If you give them a little practice, you will be the best writer in your organization.

Tip 1

Write shorter sentences.

Subject – verb – object.


Dave gets up every day and goes to his job looking at cars and he is happy all the time.


Dave likes cars.

  • Don’t write like you speak. The magic of writing is that you only need a few words to say something.

Tip 2

Write in the active voice.


The best hockey team in the world by far is the Edmonton Oilers.


The Edmonton Oilers are the best.

  • Notice the subject comes before the verb in the “after.” Often when you have the word “by” in a sentence, you are in passive voice. Stop that. Switch to active voice. You’ll use less words and be clearer.

Tip 3

Understand the difference between dependent and independent clauses.

During the municipal election, politicians go door knocking.

The “During the municipal election” is the dependent clause. Whenever the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, you need a comma.  No comma in sentences when the independent clause comes before the dependent.

Politicians go door knocking during the municipal election.

  • Notice here no comma exists. The independent clause comes first.

Any sentence with the word “because” has a dependent and independent clause in it.

I like my boss because he brings cookies to work every Friday. No Comma.

Because my boss brings cookies to work every Friday, I like him. Comma.

One other point on this section, the dependent clause by itself is never a sentence. That’s why it’s “dependent.”

I hope that makes sense. You can drastically clean up your writing with these tips. If you want more writing tips in future blogs, please leave a comment or like the article and I’ll give more. You’ll be a great writer in no time.


Some grants I write are complex.

The inventor is smart, but he usually does not have much written down on paper.

When he or she tries to put their idea down on paper, it usually becomes confusing. It’s technical and you often need an engineering degree to understand it.

In my experience, many of the people who work at grants agencies do not have engineering backgrounds. Do you think they want to read convoluted material?

When it comes to grant funding, you must understand grant money is “taxpayer” money. You need to write at a level most taxpayers understand.

Few politicians have engineering backgrounds, and they have a say in who gets funded. Don’t kid yourself.

So what should you do?

Write your grants at a grade eight level.

One of my old university professors said it best, “major newspapers try to write for a grade eight audience.”


Recently I helped write a winning application for the Alberta Innovate r&D Associate Grant (their lower case “r” not mine). The grant is for technology companies who want to hire a developer – it’s an amazing grant for technology companies.

I’ve spent enough time around technology companies to tell you that 90% or more of any technology expense is labour. It’s basically all labour:

Please share this link or blog with any Alberta technology company as it will help them out:

Although this grant involved a complex subject matter, we did something I never did before: I compared the nuts and bolts of the technology to something simple.

Obviously I can’t share too much about this technology, but I can share with you an unreal writing tip.

We explained the complex material in the context of something everyone understands.

If you’re inventing a green technology, and you’re trying to explain it. You can use – for example – how a sandwich is made: one piece of bread, spread, lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo, bread. All of these separate components in that order create a great sandwich.

In your case, you might follow a similar logic to explain your invention – if you follow me.

It worked well. In fact, it was fun to explain the concept in this way. Everybody finally “got it.” So don’t be shy about trying to explain your concept in an innovative way.


Later this month my sister’s non-profit, Elevate Aviation, is having its 4th Annual Calendar Launch Party – a fundraiser for the Lois Hole Hospital Foundation.

If you want a unique and great evening (not to mention networking in the aviation industry), you should go! It will likely sell out so act fast.  You can buy your tickets here: