While grants may masquerade as simple applications for money, successful, grant writing requires reliable research, cultivation of the grantmaker, an action-oriented, deadline based plan for successful completion, and attention to the details. Applying for grants doesn’t need to be overwhelming if you break down the simple steps along the way.
Grantmaking organizations have limited funds and full portfolios, so if you are going to break into that portfolio you have to show that your work aligns with the funder’s objectives and goals—all while standing out amongst the crowd. This means you need to do your homework before even starting the application. Doing your homework significantly improves your chances of getting in the door, and securing an in-person meeting provides the opportunity for the funder to extend a verbal invitation to apply for a grant. For most grantmaking institutions, being invited to apply is 80% of the battle.
Here are a few good places to start your research:
You and your team are busy, and successful grant applications will require input from program staff, budget information from finance, quotes and signatures from the Executive Director or CEO, and supporting materials from the marketing team or other administrators. You will need to plan ahead to ensure you are able to obtain the necessary information from everyone involved in time. If you are a small organization, be even more rigorous in your planning as it is likely the various elements of the grant will fall to just one or two individuals.
When you’re ready to get started:
Beware of cutting and pasting. You likely have great content written about your organization or project that you have produced before. Pulling from prior work to apply to relevant questions on the grant application is a great starting point, but when you revise your initial responses be sure you have specifically answered the questions asked. Craft your language to resonate with the funder’s style and show how your work speaks directly to their giving focus and philosophy.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Grants bridge and formalize partnerships between those with the capacity to give back and those with the passion, programming, and talent to make front line change in the world. Grants are not obstacles, but rather opportunities for organizations to articulate a purposeful message and to show how, in the end, we are all connected in a shared desire to leverage different assets to make a lasting positive impact.