Grant writing

Grant writing

Grant writing refers to the practice of completing formal and or informal application processes by one party, often a non profit entity, educational institution or business - but also by individuals to another party such as a Government department, Corporation, Foundation or Trust. Such application processes are often referred to as either grant proposals or "submissions".


As philanthropy continues to grow, so too does the number of grant makers and grant seekers [ [ Foundation Center - Research Studies - National Trends ] ] . Consequently Grant Makers may request more complex or in depth information within their application process. However, there are many consistencies across various grant makers and over time some common principles have lead to the development of somewhat generic application processes, with the main differences being related to the depth and quality of information various grant makers require, rather than the type of information they are looking for.

In todays grant writing environment, a successful proposal must match the needs of grant makers with the needs of grant seekers and vice versa. Essentially, there are two key strategies involved in developing successful proposals. Firstly bringing together well matched grant seekers and grant makers and secondly crafting meaningful proposals that will stand out from the (sometimes) tens of thousands of other applicants. Therefore the starting point of any successful grant writing program is hard work and extensive research. Whilst anyone can surf the internet and find a grant opportunity that looks attractive, professional grant writers build their proposals on well researched information about both the grant maker and the grant seeker and its programs.

Doing it yourself (DIY) or hiring professionals

There are pros and cons for both, largely depending on the amount and kind of resources that are available.

DIY approach requires a little money – a basic subscription to an online directory such as the Foundation Center costs $240 per annum [ [ Foundation Center - Foundation Directory Online ] ] plus time and hard work. The majority of time is needed (and wisely invested) to sift through the potential grants, trusts and foundations (currently numbered at around 88,000 in the US alone) [ [ Foundation Center - Knowledge to Build On ] ] , plus the thousands more government grants, found on various government web sites such as [ [ ] ] .

Hiring a professional requires the money to cover their fees plus a little time to ensure you give them accurate, quality information on which to base grant research and proposals.

If funds permit, hiring a professional to do either all or part of the grant writing is probably the easiest, quickest and most effective option. Grant writing has become a highly competitive field, consequently market forces have ensured that most professionals have a similar range of services available at competitive prices.

With the time and commitment plus the necessary writing skills for a good proposal, then DIY is a very reasonable way to go. There are a host of resources available free on the internet at sites such as "Not Profit Guides" [ non-profit guides - grant-writing tools for non-profit organizations ] ] and in the end, a professional grant writer can be called in to help.

Many busy school and non profit boards and administrators lack the time to do it themselves but frustratingly, also lack the money to pay a professional to do it all for them. In these cases, most professionals will be willing to provide all or partial services. If your organization has some time and very limited money, investing in a professional to do the "grant maker" research and recommend potential matches and a little more money will pay for professional editing and feedback about the DIY proposal.

Elements of a good proposal

A good proposal will include the following [ [ Proposal Writing Short Course ] ] :

;Executive Summary

This is the introduction to the proposal, a place to "State Your Case Succinctly and strongly, and summarize the rest of the proposal. It should summarize the Statement of Need, Project description, Budget and Organizational Information. According to the Foundation Center - it is an "umbrella statement of your case and summary of the entire proposal". This is a key opportunity to "sell" the proposal, making sure it reflects a professional approach and capacity for excellence.

;Statement of Need

Explain why this project is necessary, this is the chance to place the project into context. It may be helpful to draw on third party research to help paint the picture of the particular need being addressed, but make sure that it does not become too wordy and that it only contextualizes the project without overwhelming it.

;Project Description

This is the place for the project in detail. If the Executive Summary and Statement of Need are convincing, this is where the reader will explore how the proposal comes into effect. It needs to be logical, and well-thought through. Explain the Goals, Objectives, and Performance Indicators – 1) what you are going to achieve, 2) how you are going to do it, and 3) how you are going to evaluate it..


Grant Makers are in some ways like any other successful business - they have people that understand money - and more importantly, they understand value for money. Furthermore, they want their money to achieve the best results. So here is where they are looking for evidence of good fiscal policy and practice. The Budget is where to demonstrate that, should they grant it, their money will be in safe hands. Show enough detail to demonstrate understanding of the costs and that they will be delivered according to budget.

;Organizational information

Is an opportunity to sell the capacity to deliver. Include a brief history of the school or organization; outline the governance structures that oversee it, and list the main activities, audiences, and services. If there is a history of successful project delivery - include it here. If new to project work - try to draw on the experience the personnel have had elsewhere.


Summarise of all of the above, keep it succinct - but ensure to include reference to all the main points from the other sections. This is the chance to build the final picture of the submission for the reader. Do not at this point, add in new information that is not supported elsewhere and try to keep it brief and potent.

Other formats

An alternative format can be found at "Not Profit Guides" where there are also some helpful template downloads. The NP Guides format is a little lengthier, but basically covers the same key elements as the format above.


External links


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