Find the Funding: Grant Writing Best Practices

By Peter Gamache, Ph.D. & Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS, Turnaround Life, Inc.

Learning how to write a compelling grant proposal is the first step to gaining funding. A poor proposal can make a negative impression on funders and lower your chances of winning the funding.

Generally, good grant writing simply means good writing. To create a grant-winning proposal, you’ll need to tailor it to your audience, communicate your idea and use persuasion.

These are the usual components of a grant application, but be sure to reach each application carefully and supply exactly what the funder requests:

  • Cover letter: quickly describe your organization and your proposal to the grant-provider.
  • Executive summary: briefly explain the essential aspects of your proposal, such as background, necessity and relevance.
  • Statement of need: define the problem that you are trying to solve with grant funding. Add a sense of urgency and authority.
  • Goals: add quantifiable objectives and budgets for your goal.
  • Methods and strategies: provide a feasible step-by-step plan.
  • Plan of evaluation: create a plan to track your progress.
  • Budget projections: plan a budget, including expenses such as supplies, personnel and overhead costs.
  • Organization information: Provide proof of your organization’s history, staff and goals.

Qualities of Grant-Winning Proposals

Make your grant stand out: Be compelling and concise. Use simple language and avoid acronyms and industry jargon. When trying to explain complicated data, charts and infographics break it down for your funder quickly.

No matter the focus of your program, there are qualities that should be true of all of your funding proposals:

  • Concise: The proposal should directly answer funder questions and include all relevant information.
  • Clarity: The goals must be measurable, and the evaluation plan for the project outcome-based and clear.
  • Compelling: The proposal should be written in a way that leaves the reader motivated to take action.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to asking for grant dollars, so don’t create one generic proposal and then send it out to everyone. Instead, tailor each proposal you create. Find the unique connection between your organization’s project and the interests of the funder. Then, show this in key places—especially the introduction, cover letter and conclusion. Finally, showing gratitude for the funder’s time can go a long way.

Communicate Ideas Clearly

When you’re in a hurry to meet a funder’s deadline, it may be tempting to skip the revision and review process to save time. However, time spent evaluating and refining how clearly you’re communicating your ideas is never wasted. What makes sense to you and those within your organization is not common knowledge for an outside party.

Grant proposal language should be easy to follow and clear. Learn how to communicate complex ideas simply. Remember that one of your main goals is to make your reader’s job easy. The hard work should be done by you, not them. Always strive to create a compelling proposal that’s logical and perfectly clear to find the funding.

Here at Turnaround Life, Inc., we aim to help organizations and programs that make it possible for people to turn their lives around. For more information about us, visit our website.

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