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14 Ways to Write Better Grants

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Opinions

Sapling growing from coinsAt School’s Out Washington, we’ve been on both sides of the grant-writing process. We offer grants such as Feed Your Brain and Let’s Get Cookin’, but like any non-profit we also have to apply for grants.

Here are a 14 tips for writing great grants that we’ve learned both as funders and grant writers.

  1. Make sure that your project aligns with the purpose of the grant or its funding priorities. Determine what the funder is trying to accomplish and if these are your goals as well. If in doubt, most funders are willing to answer questions.
  2. Follow directions! This means attaching all attachments, sending in your application so it arrives before the deadline, and answering all questions completely. Deductions are usually given when you do not follow directions. Deductions can cause proposals to lose many points. Proposals that may otherwise be strong proposals have lost enough points from deductions that they were not funded.
  3. On that same vein, do not exceed the number of allowable pages. Proposals exceeding the page limit are usually disqualified because your proposal can no longer be fairly compared with other applicants. Try to use the exact maximum number of allowable pages so the funder gets a good picture of what you’re proposing.
  4. Explain special curricula, projects, and programs in layman’s terms. If the funder doesn’t understand it, they may not fund it. One way to see if a layman can understand your proposal is to give it to someone who doesn’t know your program very well. Have them read it and the grant guidelines and give you feedback. They can let you know if there are areas they do not understand or areas where you didn’t answer the question to their satisfaction.
  5. Most funders are looking for projects that will have long-term effects. Explain how your project will do that.
  6. Most funders like to see collaboration. Mention your partnerships with other organizations, schools, parents, and your community.
  7. Make sure your demographic numbers and budget numbers add up.
  8. Define what success would mean for your program. What end result would make you consider your program a success?
  9. Look at the points that have been assigned to the different areas. Spend more time on the heavily-weighted areas. Use those points to assess the importance of the different areas.
  10. Don’t exaggerate the impact or the numbers you will impact. Be honest and realistic.
  11. Don’t commit to tasks or outcomes that you cannot produce, do not have the staff or time to produce, or do not want to produce.
  12. Make sure that you provide complete contact information so that the funder can contact you with questions.
  13. Use the community as a resource. Ask how others have written grants.
  14. If your proposal is not funded, you might want to call and ask the funder for feedback. Make sure you call a month or two after funding has been allocated when the funder has more time to discuss this with you. Many funders are willing to share areas of improvement with you and the feedback can make you a better grant writer.

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