Four Realistic Grant Writing Tips for Small Nonprofits

When submitting a grant, it’s important to remember you have competition. You want to do everything you can to make your nonprofit standout from competitors. This can seem like a daunting task for smaller nonprofits that do not have entire departments dedicated to fundraising or full-time grant writers on staff. It can be challenging, but there are steps that smaller nonprofits can take to make an application stand-out amongst the competition.

1. Research and design a grant application timeline

Most smaller nonprofits have minimal resources, so it’s important to spend time researching grant opportunities that match the project or program that needs funding. There are thousands of grants available, but it is not possible to apply for them all, so you have to decide which grants are attainable and realistic for your organization.

The next step would be to make a calendar outlining the deadlines for all the grant applications for the granting cycle. Funding cycles usually take place twice a year- a spring cycle and fall cycle. A calendar is a free and useful resource that will help you stay organized throughout the entire grant process. Having a grant calendar will prevent mistakes such as missing deadlines and forgetting to apply for specific grants.

2. Create a grant application checklist

There is nothing more frustrating in the grant application process than to hit a point where you do not have the necessary information needed to proceed with the application. All grants are different but, in most cases, require similar information. This is good news because it will save you time and allow you to apply for more grants. Therefore, create a grant check-list BEFORE you begin the application. Typical documents required for a grant application include the annual general report, articles of association, project budget, third-party financial audits, and bylaws. Having these documents saved digitally in a file on your computer to will save you time and prevent needless running around trying to find specific documents every time to go to write a grant.

3. Review, Review, and Review again… the entire grant application

Always make sure to proofread the entire grant application. Check your spelling and grammar again and again. It can be helpful to have a co-worker or trusted friend read over the grant for you with a pair of fresh eyes. Reviewing is important because you want your document to be of the highest quality and bad spelling equals terrible quality. Make sure your font is the same style and size throughout the entire application. Font and size are essential because your application needs to look cohesive. Lastly, make sure all the additional required documents are titled and saved in the correct format. In the grant instructions, it will usually specify how documents should be sent such as a docx, or PDF.

4. Don’t work for the grant but let the grant work for you

Do not apply for every grant for the sake of applying for a grant. It is a mistake to think you need multiple grants from multiple sources. It will be more beneficial to your organization if you spend your time focused on quality, not quality. If you lose focus, later down the road, you will find yourself working for the grant instead of the grant working for your project or program. Many times, nonprofits will end up with useless funding because they have no way of applying the funding to their needs. The best way to avoid this trap is to have a plan set in place BEFORE you start the grant application. Ask yourself what projects or programs need funding and work from there. After you understand what needs funding the grant application process will become more evident.

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