5 Grant Writing Tips that will get you funded!

By: Amanda Barna

Grant writing is not an easy task, yet it is vital to many organizations. As there are more organizations competing for fewer available dollars, you must find a way to stand out (in a good way). In order to be successful, you need the time and patience to do it correctly. Here are a few tips on how to stand out in the crowd and get funded the first time around.

  1. Start early. Do not wait until the last minute to start the application. There may be information that you can’t obtain quickly or that you need to get from a committee. Also, for some funders, you have to be registered before you can apply. In some instances, such as Grants.gov, this is a lengthy process that you need to get started early in the application process. In addition, you need to have time to have your application proofread, and make any necessary revisions before submission.
  2. Check back for questions and clarifications. Many times funders will have a question and answer period after the grant opportunity is released. Check back after the end date of the question period to see if the questions and answers have been posted. Sometimes that information is vital to steering you in the right direction. There may also be information that was not included in the original application packet but is expected to be included in the proposal. You won’t know if you don’t look.
  3. Add data and visuals where appropriate. Make sure that the data you use is as recent as possible and cite the sources of the data. Typically, all data should have been collected within the last three years or sooner. Be careful not to overuse or misuse visuals. Use them only when they make your proposal stronger.
  4. 4. Make sure that you provide all the information they ask for - in the order that they ask for it - following all formatting instructions exactly. The same information may be asked for in multiple places. Make sure you include it even though it may seem redundant,. Many grant reviewers use a form or a checklist to make sure that all the applicable sections are included. You can have you application thrown out simply for having the information appear under the wrong headers. Also, there are times where grant applications are reviewed by more than one person- where each reviewer is assigned a section. If you decide that you have already provided the requested information in another section and you don’t repeat it in the following section, the second reviewer may mark your application as incomplete. Many times there are restrictions on the number of pages, font size and type, and margins. Many applications are not even looked at simply because the formatting is not correct. Also, only include the attachments that are requested by the funder. Do not include extra attachments such as press clippings, letters of support, or brochures unless instructed to do so. The organization and look of the proposal is not the place to get creative. There is often a method to what appears to be madness.
  5. Read all submission instructions carefully. Can you submit the application electronically or does it have to be mailed? Does it have to be postmarked or delivered by a certain date or time? Do cost and project information have to be sent in separately? These are important questions that you need to answer early on in the grant writing process so that you can plan accordingly. If you are submitting a grant on Grants.gov (the federal grant portal)- I recommend submitting at least 48 hours prior to the deadline in case there are issues.

In the event that you are not funded, you should ask the funder for feedback. You won’t always get an answer, but whatever feedback that you do receive will be valuable in future attempts to get funded. Happy writing!