Kristin’s Top 3 Grant Writing Tips

As 2016 winds down, it’s time to reveal my top 3 grant writing tips to increase your success rate in the grant world.

Tip #3  Form a grant team.

Preparing and submitting a grant proposal requires a gazillion skill sets:  identifying grant opportunities, program planning, researching data for the need statement, writing, editing, budget development, partner relations, formatting documents, compiling attachments, completing forms, creating logic models with measurable outcomes, and on and on.

Although I thrive on the variety of tasks associated with grant “writing,” the most rewarding experiences of my career have been the result of working as a member of a grant team.  The team members divide up the tasks and agree to a timeline to ensure that we all complete our assignments and submit the proposal on time.

Grant writing is not necessarily a team sport, but, in my opinion, you’re more likely to submit competitive proposals when more than one person is involved in the planning and development process.

Tip #2  Think small. Think local.


I liken a nonprofit establishing credibility in the grant world to a consumer building a credit history.  Funders want to make sound investments through their grantmaking.  Not in monetary terms, because grants are not repaid like loans.  But grantmakers do expect that their financial support will make a positive impact on the targeted beneficiaries.

One way to build credibility as a grantseeker is to apply for small, local grants such as United Way, community foundations, and local corporations.  Local funders know the community you serve and may even be familiar with your organization and the work that you do.

Once you receive your first grant, you’ll be able to demonstrate to future funders your ability to administer grants responsibly and achieve positive results.  Success builds success, and, in time, you’ll be ready to apply for larger grants from funders outside your immediate area.

Tip #1  Be selective.


So many grants – so little time.  Just because a grant is available doesn’t mean that it merits your time to apply.  To help you select the best prospects, invest a little time in assessing each grant opportunity in terms of its alignment with your mission and funding needs.  Also consider the cost to apply, i.e., the up-front resources required to develop a competitive proposal.  Consider the eligibility criteria, the grantmaker’s funding history, the complexity of the application, the amount of time before the submission deadline, staff availability during that timeframe, the amount of the potential grant award, among other factors.

For example, you may determine that a ten-page proposal requiring partner input is not worth the effort because the submission deadline is two weeks away and the maximum award is only $3,000.  However, if you received that grant the previous year and renewing it requires only a few updates and minor tweeks, then it’s probably a very good investment of your time.

The Take-Aways

  • Form a grant team and capitalize on each team member’s expertise to strengthen your proposal.
  • Establish your grant “credit score” by securing small, local grants.
  • Narrow your list of possible grant opportunities to the very best fit between your organization and the funder.

Looking Ahead

The next GrantSpeak post will address the difference between letters of support and letters of commitment.