5 Tips for Writing Grants that Get You Funding

By Heidi Gregory-Mina.

Heidi Gregory-Mina, DM, MBA, MS, teaches Grant and Report Writing in the Nonprofit Management master's program, as well as in the Leadership and Human Resources programs. 

Receiving a grant or not is a big deal to any organization, whether it opens the door for you to take on new projects, or helps keep your organization running. 

It goes without saying that a sloppy grant proposal won't get funding, especially when competition is steep. But what can you make sure to include that will give your grant proposals their best chance?  

Here's what the experts know about grant writing, and the important steps they take every single time. 

1. Do Your Homework 

Make absolutely sure that your nonprofit’s mission aligns with the funder’s goals and objectives for the grant.

Don’t force your program and services to fit the funder; it will be a waste of your valuable time. Even slight shifts can eventually lead to mission creep and resource splitting.

2. Follow Directions

Follow the grant funder’s guidelines to the letter when writing the grant. Be clear and concise and edit very carefully.

Review the scoring criteria to ensure that you included everything before calling it final. It is also good practice to have a layman read your grant before submitting to ensure it is clear and understandable.

3. Plan for the Future

Make sure that you have a robust plan to sustain the program or service after the grant has ended. Funders don’t like to fund programs or services that can’t demonstrate sustainability.

4. Share Your Budget

Show a clear alignment between the goals and objectives of the program and your budget. The people who will be working on the project should have their salaries allocated to the budget based on their time and effort.

The other expenses should align to the needs of the program and services. Whether or not the funder asks for it, you should always prepare a detailed budget to ensure that you’re not asking for too much or too little.

Finally, make sure the budget narrative explains in detail all of the budgetary items and addresses any variances or changes between budget years.

5. What's the Deal?

Show that your project is about more than just data collection by discussing in detail what you plan to do with the data that you collect. Provide a clear plan for assessment and dissemination.

Tell the funders how you’ll prove success and outline your plans to publicize the program’s achievements.