Grant writing can be daunting, but it often means large rewards for nonprofits who do it well. According to Candid, over $90 billion was awarded by foundations in 2023, pointing to a wealth of opportunities for nonprofits that are willing to present their cases.

While there is no blueprint for grant writing, there are still different ways to increase your organization’s chances. Check out these 10 tips to make your grant applications stand out.


1. Be specific about the need for the grant.

Why are you applying for a particular grant? “Because we need funding” is a brief and generic answer. Instead, clearly describe what you will accomplish with the funding and how it will make a difference in the community.


2. Differentiate yourself.

Set yourself apart from other nonprofits. Your chances are much higher if you can make your organization stand out, especially if you don’t have an existing relationship with the foundation.


3. Focus your proposal on a specific project.

Instead of asking for general support, focus on a specific cause or project your organization is a part of. Provide detail to show how the project will be executed.


4. Use plain language.

The best grant proposals are easy to read, concise and understandable. Avoid acronyms and jargon and instead use words that everyone can understand. This also includes avoiding $10 words. Tell a story, but keep it to the point.


5. Tell a story.

Bouncing off #4, perfecting the art of storytelling will ensure that your proposal stands out. Reading grant proposals likely gets repetitive, but if you are able to engage your readers, they’ll remember you.


6. Focus on the positive.

Dwelling on problems can make your proposal seem negative. Instead, present your proposal in a future-positive light. They want to know how you’ll accomplish your objectives, not the why. Avoid the problems and focus on your solution.


7. Check your math.

Math errors are more common than you’d think, and they’re quick to lower your organization’s credibility. Double check your budget and ensure that it supports your objectives. Misunderstanding money is a bad look and will quickly lead to your proposal getting thrown out.


8. Get an outside opinion.

Find someone who doesn’t know anything about your organization to review your application. If they can understand what you’re trying to accomplish and feel motivated to support your organization, you’re on the right track.


9. Don’t procrastinate.

It’s always tempting to put things off until the last minute, but try not to do that here. Mistakes are inevitable if you’re rushed, and you won’t have time for others to review your work. If possible, avoid sending your application via overnight or express mail. Rushing a proposal costs extra money and can suggest that your organization isn’t efficient with funds.


10. Double check and stick to the requirements.

Foundations can be picky. Make sure your application follows their specifications to a T, even when those rules might seem silly. Most foundations will specify what you need to send, and it’s not necessary to send anything extra. It’s more likely to annoy them than to give you an advantage.


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