Grant Writing Tips

and Tricks

What is the best Grant Database for me?

The fastest way to find grant opportunities is to use a database. There is a time and place for Google searching, but it is a huge time-suck and simply ineffective to find grants that way exclusively. A database can do in seconds what could take you days; and visually, it's a much easier way to organize your grant opportunities and keep track of them. 

There are several grant databases to choose from and depending on the needs of your organization, not all will align well with your unique needs. We also know that you are the change-makers and may not have time in your schedule of creating relevant and helpful changes to research each individual grant database.  

No single database is one-size-fits-all. We’ve taken the time to test out several grant databases to give you a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each one so you don’t have to.

You can cruise to the bottom of this article for the database we recommend. Otherwise, clicking on...

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How to Write a Grant in Seven Steps - Part 2 of 3

Who doesn’t want to become a grant writing unicorn?  People think grant writers have mystical super powers. Let’s add the skill set to your quiver! In this three-part series, we distill the grant writing process into seven easy to follow steps. 

In case you missed the first post, you can access that here. 

Step 3. Host an Outstanding Kick-Off Meeting. A kick-off meeting is where we gather everyone involved in the project to plan for the grant preparation process. The amount of help you get is directly correlated to the success of your kick-off meeting. 

We will often bring cookies or provide lunch to express gratitude to the group for giving their time to help us prepare an application. If people feel appreciated and inspired by you, they will make your requests a priority. 

Prepare an agenda beforehand and email it at least one day in advance. Pictured here is an example of a meeting agenda. 

Sample Meeting Agenda

Date: Monday, December 3,...

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How to Write a Grant in Seven Steps - Part 1 of 3

Who doesn’t want to become a grant writing unicorn?  People think grant writers have mystical super powers. Let’s add the skill-set to your quiver! In this three-part series we distill the grant writing process into seven easy to follow steps. 

Step 1. Follow Your North Star (the Funding Guidelines). Funding guidelines are instructions from the funder on how to apply. They usually include information on the grant program, eligibility, narrative requirements, necessary attachments, etc. 

You can download the funding guidelines from the funding agency website. Once downloaded, print them so you have a hard copy to mark up. You will catch nuances in the guidelines that, for some reason, are difficult to catch when reading on a computer. 

Read the funding guidelines from beginning to end and then take a break. Go work on something else, stretch, pet your dog- whatever you do to maintain your energy. When you’re done, come back to the guidelines and...

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How to Avoid Last Minute Grant Pursuits

"I just learned about {grant name}, but it is due in {insanely short time frame}. Should I go after it?"

Smalls, you're killing me! The answer is no. No, no, no. Still, no. Don't even try to convince yourself it's the perfect fit. 

Now that we're done being sassy, let's explain the tricks your mind is going to play on you. 

"But this is the PERFECT grant for us!” If you are only learning about a grant once the announcement has come out, you are too late. You don't have the time to properly examine if it is a good fit. Your judgment is now blurry because you want the signs to say “go for it!” 

Even if you follow the rule of contacting the funding agency to gauge if the program is a good fit, the funder can lead you astray. Once an announcement is out, many funders will encourage you to apply because it makes their programs look better if they are competitive. Another issue is that a funding agency representative often cannot talk to you about the...

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Must Do Math Before Writing a Grant

We were never particularly gifted at math, but basic math comes in handy as a grant writer! For every single grant we seriously consider, we insist on knowing the applicant success rate.

What’s that you ask? That is how many applicants were awarded funding out of the total number of applicants.

Why? Now you may say this isn’t a good indication of success since your proposal will be above average. That hopefully is true, but when you get into grants that award less than 10% of applicants, it doesn’t matter how good your application is – the odds are just working against you!

How do you calculate it? Divide the number of successful applicants by the total number of applicants. For example, if 80 grants were awarded and 400 applied, that equates to a 20% success rate (80/400=20%).

What if that info isn’t published? Ask the funding agency. This is a non-negotiable detail to have before deciding to write a grant. Some programs are so competitive less than...

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Tips for Writing Your First Draft of a Grant Narrative

It seems like the internet is filled with general grant writing tips that aren’t too useful. I don’t want to add to the noise at all, but these tips are genuine rules I try to live by when grant writing. Why? It makes the writing process faster and helps your grant reviewer find the information they need.

The tips below assume you have already set up a narrative ‘skeleton’ or template for filling in your responses. If you haven’t, download our free mini course on narrative writing to learn how to prep your narrative. Once you have that in place and are ready to start writing, here are tips and tricks to consider:

Write fast and furiously! It can be so tempting to go look up facts or information, but in your first draft try to not leave the word document. While you are typing, just make notes of sections you want to add facts or information and come back to it later. Use bullet points to list ideas. Ideally turn off your internet so you can’t be...

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