Grant Writing For Dummies
Building your grant writing skills is the best way to secure funding for your organization. The keys to finding grant-funding opportunities and writing award-winning grant proposals are knowing where to find opportunities, understanding what funders want to read, and writing telling and compelling applications.
Knowing Where to Look for Grant Funding
Before you can write a grant proposal, you need to know who’s interested in funding projects similar to the one you’re proposing for funding. Do your homework to locate as many potential grant-funding sources as possible, and use these tips to help:
Start looking for funders locally. Try community foundations, businesses, the United Way, and city and county government agencies.
Look at your list of vendors to see where you’re spending your money so you can get some of it back.
Talk to bank trust officers and marketing vice presidents to see what trust funds they administer and what advertising dollars are available for community projects, respectively.
Use the Internet or head to your local public library’s reference department to find resources through online grant maker databases.
Network with veteran grant writers to find out about their funding resource network.
Talk to community and economic development agency personnel about your project and ask for help in finding the monies you need for program development or research endeavors.
Call your governor’s office and ask about state agency grant funding and other monies that may be available for your organization or business.
Read your local newspaper and any local or regional business journals to identify potential corporate funders or families with money to spare.
Attend all public events where the who’s who crowd will be gathered and hand out your business cards. Just make sure your agency’s mission and contact info are on the card!
Prepare and distribute a press release to all local and regional media announcing that you have a project in need of funding.
Call your congressional team members to let them know more about your organization (the grant applicant) and its need for grant funding. Ask if they can start to track any federal bucks that fit your needs.
Writing Effective Grant Proposals
To make your grant writing stand out from other proposals, you have to know how to write grants effectively. Do some research for your specific grant proposal and incorporate the following guidelines to spin written magic:
Tell your story (with supporting statistics) in such a compelling way that the reader can’t put your application down until he or she makes a positive funding decision.
Incorporate buzzwords found on the funder’s website or in the grant-funding announcement.
Use a thesaurus to expand your command of adjectives — those words that rock when you’re writing about gloom, doom, drama, and trauma.
View online examples of winning grant applications. Check out http://www.npguides.org for great grant proposal examples.
Research proven best practices for your proposed solutions and incorporate language from the experts.
When you find best practices, look for the evaluation results of previously implemented programs that are similar to yours. Know what works and what doesn’t work before you write your proposed solution.
Eliminate multiple drafts from your writing habits because the most creative and wow words are often the first words you type.
Hire a proofreader or editor to read your writing and clean it up. Don’t have any money? Ask a trustworthy and capable co-worker or friend.
Write in short, impactful sentences. Long-winded sentences almost always lose the reader.
Grant Writing and Funding Websites
Grant websites have largely replaced weekly trips to the library as the best way of finding grant-funding opportunities. You can also submit the grant applications you write to the funder online. The following sites are first choices for grant seeking:
Maximizing Your Chances at Winning a Grant
A good grant writer spends hours researching and drafting a winning grant application. You don’t want to give a funder the chance to reject your funding request. To increase your chances at winning the grant you’ve worked so hard for, follow these tips:
Use grant writing reference books to guide you in writing well.
Ask only for what your organization needs; the climate of philanthropy is cautious and frugal in dire economic times.
Learn to be a storyteller by incorporating consistent, clear, concise, and compelling phrases and paragraphs into your funding request.
Focus on the positive end result of receiving a grant award. This concentration will drive your writing to the highest level of quality and reader interest.
Write grant requests weekly (the more frequently you write, the higher your chances of receiving grant awards).
If your funding request is denied, find out why. Write or call the funder and ask for specifics on what was lacking with your grant proposal. Fix the weaknesses, find new potential funders, and send out your next round of funding requests.