Grant writing is no easy task. It takes research, organization, dedication and creativity to craft a grant proposal that entices reviewers to keep reading for further information – and ultimately give the green light for funding.
Why don’t your grant proposals get approved? And what can you do to improve your grant writing skills to receive funding? Keep reading!
Why Grants Don’t Get Approved
There are 3 main reasons why grants don’t approved:
- The foundation doesn’t have enough money to approve all grant proposals;
- The proposal falls outside the foundation’s area of interest;
- The proposal doesn’t follow the application guidelines.
Not following the application guidelines is probably the worst reason to not receive funding. Luckily you can make sure that doesn’t happen by improving your grant writing skills.
Below we share 6 ways you can improve your grant writing skills – and ensure your grant proposal is never denied because of user error.
6 Tips to Improve Your Grant Writing Skills
Want to improve your grant writing skills for maximum success? Try the following tips:
1. Review the Guidelines Carefully
Like we mentioned above, one of the main reasons grants don’t get approved is because the applicant didn’t review the application guidelines before sending in the materials.
While grants usually require the same information, it’s still a good idea to review the guidelines of each grant you are applying for. This will help you put together your proposal, including an outline to get you started, and ensure you send in all the necessary information.
If you’re going to apply for multiple proposals at different foundations and organizations, we recommend creating a folder for each of the different grants you’re applying for. This will keep each grant and the materials required for each separate. You should do this even if some of the materials are the exact same.
Within the folder, you should also keep a copy of the guidelines for easy reference. And don’t be afraid to have it open when you’re working on that grant or refer to it often to ensure you’re not missing anything.
2. Write an Outline
Using your grant guidelines, you can put together an outline that details all the sections needed for a complete grant proposal. Typical grant proposals include: Letter of Inquiry or Cover Letter, Executive Summary, Statement of Need, Goals and Objectives, Program Design or Methodology, Evaluation, Project Sustainability, Nonprofit Organization Information, and Budget.
Within your outline, write notes about specific items that should be addressed under a certain section or add details about where you’re going to get information regarding a key point to keep yourself organized. You can also give each section a due date to keep the grant writing process moving – and help you meet the final deadline.
Once your outline is complete, have someone review to make sure it makes sense and meets all the key points. This is also a good way to ensure you’re meeting the grant’s guidelines from the very start.
When you’re satisfied with your outline, you can begin to fill in all the details.
3. Explicitly State Your Need
When you begin writing the Statement of Need section, remember to explicitly state your need for funding. Why are you requesting the grant? And how is this going to benefit the community / your mission?
The people reviewing your grant proposal are not going to read between the lines or try to connect the dots throughout your proposal to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Tell them exactly what you need and why.
This will help ensure the rest of your proposal flows – and make writing how you’re going to evaluate success much easier.
You can write the best grant proposal out there, but it won’t mean anything if no one can read or understand it. Grant proposals are already complex documents, dealing with budgets, goals, and strategies. These items, when written improperly, make reading them even harder – and the person who has to review all the grant proposals is not going to spend hours deciphering your application.
The best thing you can do is simplify your writing. And one of the easiest ways to do so is to write as if you were trying to explain your organization and goals to your grandparent, child, or parent. They likely will not have the inside scoop on what you’re trying to accomplish, which will make you write differently – and for the better!
Additional writing tips to simplify your grant proposals include:
- Avoid vague words and empty phrases – Ex: nearly, almost, about, or roughly
- Don’t use jargon, technical language, acronyms, or clichés
- Don’t use words you wouldn’t use in normal, everyday talk, meaning there is no need for a thesaurus
- Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs to help readers follow along and stay engaged
- Use charts and graphs to help explain your points – these also help break up text and make documents easier to read
- Use headings and subheadings to help control the flow of your proposal, and let readers know they are entering a new section or a sub-section of content
- Don’t be overly formal. You should write conversationally while staying professional.
5. Organize the Budget
The budget is probably the most crucial aspect of your grant proposal. It can determine whether your project is brought to life, or left on paper. To make your budget easier to read and understand:
- Use clear and concise verbiage to explain how much each activity will cost, and how to relates to the overall project
- Convey realistic expectations of how much items/activities may cost
- Show detailed sources of income and expenses for the life of the project
- Review the numbers to make they add up and make sense
Another tip to make your budget easier to read – include graphs and charts!
Visuals are much easier to read and understand, especially when it comes to money. If your grant guidelines allow it, consider adding charts and graphs to your proposal. Not only will this help break up the text, but can give the reviewer an easier (and better) way to see just how impactful your organization can be should you be awarded the grant.
You might also want to get a second pair of eyes on the numbers to make sure they’re accurate. You’re spending a lot of time to get your proposal right, and definitely don’t want to be denied because your numbers don’t add up right!
Before you submit your well-researched and organized grant proposal, review your document for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, in addition to checking for the necessary proposal guidelines.
Even better, ask a co-worker to proofread the proposal for you. Ask them to review the flow and organization of the document, in addition to giving general editing feedback. They may have additional insight that can make your proposal more transparent.Make sure you also share the proposal guidelines with them so they can also make sure you have the necessary application pieces.
If you don’t want to ask a co-worker, there are several online tools you can use to double check your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Sites like Grammarly, can review your writing for repetitive words, weak verbs, incorrect comma usage, and more.
**Bonus Tip: Be Creative!
Many times grant proposals come across as boring. Liven up your organization’s request by using creative language that tells YOUR story to pique the interest of those dispersing the money.
Share what makes your organization unique, and what about your project is going to benefit the people/audience/etc. its geared to.
Being creative can make your proposal memorable – which can help your proposal get funded should their be a lot of proposals and limited funds. Foundations want their money to go to organizations who are going to make a different, so let your creativity fly and show just how you’re going to impact your community.
Want to Improve Grant Funding for Your Organization?
Are you ready to simplify and organize your grant management process? Capital Business Solutions is a reseller for Abila Grant Management, allowing you to increase grant funding, stay organized and measure success. Request more information on Abila Grant Management by calling 919-821-1244 or filling out our online contact form.