Tips for Better Grant Applications

  1. Understand your own goals before looking for grants; make sure there is a fit between what your organization wants to accomplish and what the grant program will support.
  2. Set aside plenty of time. Don't underestimate how much time it takes to write a competitive application.
  3. Assemble a team to help. Don’t try to do the whole thing on your own. Get people to track down estimates, talk to grantmakers, collect applications, etc.
  4. Contact grantmakers, before you write your proposal, to be sure you clearly understand the grant program guidelines. Follow the guidelines to the letter.
  5. Check out your target agency's recent awards. Narrow down your list of possible grant agencies to the most promising prospects. The best way to do that is to see what they have supported in the past. For Grants Paid Listings.
  6. Talk to those who got funded and ask for advice. Find out who gave grants in your region similar to your planned proposal.
  7. Show that you have a significant need or problem in your proposal. Don’t assume that the grant reviewers understand your project or its importance to your community.
  8. The first paragraph of your proposal is the single most important part. If the grant reviewer has a good idea of the direction of your proposal from reading the abstract, it creates an important first impression.
  9. Good proposals are easy to understand. If you are short and to the point, and you’ve answered the key questions, your grant will be viewed as comprehensible and fundable.
  10. Have a reasonable and detailed budget. Do your homework on costs. Your budget must closely match the described activities.
  11. Be realistic. It is better to limit your proposal to fewer, more attainable goals, than to promise more than you can deliver.
  12. Describe both the broad goals and measurable objectives of your project. Detail the activities that will accomplish the program's goals and objectives.
  13. Proofread! Spelling and grammar errors do not convey a positive image.
  14. Having partners helps. Other groups or agencies that share your need and will financially contribute to the project make the application stronger. If another group will benefit from the project, a letter of endorsement will help the application.
  15. Have a “nitpicker” review your application. The more critical the reader and the more the application is "nitpicked," the better. Don’t get your feelings hurt. This is your chance to fix unclear or contradictory areas.
  16. Follow-up with the grantmaker about the outcome of your proposal, after it is submitted. Even if it is turned down, ask for feedback about your proposal's strengths and weaknesses for the next time.