5 Steps to Best Practices in Grant Writing

Regardless of whether you are a novice or seasoned grant writer, preparing and writing a grant application can be a daunting task. Success is often not immediate and patience is required to keep trying. While there isn’t a comprehensive application template guaranteeing success, there are a number of best practices you can follow when preparing an application.

By utilizing best practices in grant writing, you will not only find that the process becomes more fluent, but you will also increase your chances of success. Grant reviewers look for certain criteria and they often come across recurring problems in grant applications. The good news is that most of these issues can be easily eliminated. We have compiled a few best practices to assist with proposal writing.


Step 1: Prepare and Do Your Homework

In a previous blog, we mentioned that it is important to get to know your funder. You should inform yourself about the organization’s funding priorities, previously funded projects (if possible), and the mission. While many organizations have rather broad funding priorities, some funders do have very narrow and specific priorities that you will want to pay extra attention to.


This does not necessarily mean that your project does not qualify for a grant, but you might have to change your proposal. You should never use one proposal for multiple grant applications. Each proposal should be tailored to the organization you are applying to. This means adjusting the language and tone of your application for each grant you apply for.


Step 2: Manage Your Time

Once you have found a grant opportunity that meets your needs, take a close look at the deadlines and spend sufficient time writing your proposal. Preparing an application the night before the deadline, for example, will not typically yield the desired results. It is helpful to plan several rounds of revision and editing throughout the development process. For instance, you might stumble across a roadblock and determine you need to obtain further details and information to justify your request. If you were only hours away from the deadline, overcoming such a challenge would be difficult to execute in the allotted time.


Step 3: Don’t Assume

If the submission requirement states “paper applications are not accepted,” do not hope for the best and send a letter anyway. Remember that you are probably one of thousands of applicants and sending your application in the incorrect format is likely to eliminate you before you even make it to the review.


Step 4: Be Concise and Add Value

It is essential that you are able to describe your project as detailed and clearly as possible in a compressed space. For tips on adding value to your proposal and writing concisely, read our previously featured blogs. It is also important to elaborate on both the need and the proposed outcome. If you don’t convince your reviewer that you really need the funding, and that there is a measurable and significant outcome, they will turn their attention to other applicants.


Step 5: Track Your Success

Your application process is not over once you have hit “submit” or sent the official application email. Be aware of follow-up deadlines, phone interviews, revisions, questions, and further requests for information from the funder. If the organization mentions follow-up questions, site visits, or phone interviews in the requirements, begin preparing for those before you even send out your application.


Whether your proposal was funded or not during this grant cycle, program officers and reviewers can provide information and feedback about the foundation’s decision. Ask for feedback either way—it can give you important insights into your strengths and weaknesses and provide direction for the next time you seek funding.


To set yourself up for success, be sure to follow these best practices. By employing the five steps, you not only increase your chances of receiving funding, but you also establish a process that you can use for future applications.




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