Five Key Grants and Proposal Writing Steps

Grant writing is the process of applying for funds to support your nonprofit organization’s programs. A key step in successfully obtaining grants is writing a proper proposal. It involves writing grant proposals that community groups, government agencies, corporations, foundations, or other funders have to approve before supporting your nonprofit.

For several nonprofits, this process can seem daunting and stressful but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding the current nonprofit grant writing trends and implementing essential best practices can streamline your grant writing process and position your nonprofit for success.

Here are invaluable tips that can help you get started or improve your grant-writing skills.

  • Research

When writing for a grant, ensure to research extensively the details of every phase of the proposal you are required to write. Build comprehensive research techniques if you are lacking in the area and take the time to discover better ways to conduct and compile the necessary information for your organization’s input. Additionally, research the funder’s objectives as this gives you a clear view of how to interject what your organization hopes to achieve with the project they are funding. 

  • Develop A Unifying Narrative Thread

What really sets your proposal apart is a unifying narrative thread.

Simply put, a core compelling idea is an overarching theme that sticks with the reader. In the case of nonprofit grant writing, it’s an idea that clarifies how your organization’s work is important, urgent, unique, and deserving of funding. It’s the answer to why the funder should want to fund your request, helping them to picture their own mission coming alive. This is simple to understand but challenging to master.

Members on the deciding boards of foundation awarding grants come across thousands of proposals they review before funding an organization and while it is important to detailedly follow instructions, a trick that can help you stand out is to creatively craft a compelling story on the vision of your organization. This will capture the interest of the decision-makers and in turn, increase your likelihood of winning the grant you applied for.

  • Clearly Define your Organization’s Motives

In your proposal, giving priority to clearness and conciseness, outline the elements of your organization’s plans and motives.

Make it part of your grant writing discipline to communicate complex ideas simply. To communicate in a straightforward but compelling way, try the following:

  • Think before you write. Clarify what your intent is before putting it on paper.
  • Use familiar, concrete words. Avoid pretension and unhelpful jargon as these can bog down the reader.
  • Limit sentences to a single idea. Choose several short sentences over a single overly complex one. Quick and simple sentences are easier to follow.
  • Write in active voice. Active voice is when the subject performs the action. For example, “The Board approved the request,” not “The request was approved by the Board.”
  • Include budgeting plans and details of sustainability for the project the funding is going towards. Ensuring the facts and figures are accurate and realistic. Also review the details, to make sure that there are no errors, omissions, or verbiages in your writing.

  • Follow Instructions

While this sounds explicit, a common mistake made when writing grant proposals is failing to follow the instructions hereby missing the littlest details. When applying for a grant, ensure to carefully read through the guidelines to avoid missing necessary information. This also helps you when you are outlining before you commence proper writing.

  • Leverage Rejections

While receiving rejections comes off as discouraging, you could leverage that failure to your advantage by figuring out why your application did not succeed. In some cases, you could contact the deciding board for feedback to improve your chances and hereafter evolve off this feedback when you are reapplying for the same grant in the future or for a similar grant from a different foundation. Additionally, you could also compare winning proposals to the rejected ones to further help you filter what is appropriate and otherwise. 

Take note that organizations have limited awardees for their fund and sometimes it is not that your proposal was a failure so don’t be discouraged.

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