Planning Your Grant Writing


You completed your research and found a potential grant funder who fits your organization’s needs and timelines. Now what?

These 10 steps can help you plan to write the best grant possible to increase your chances of success.

  1. Call the Grant Funder to tell them about your idea. You did your research so do not ask them what they fund, but tell them you think you have a good project that helps them achieve their mission that you would like to discuss. Many funders welcome this opportunity as they do not want to waste their time reading applications that do not fit their mission any more than you want to write one that has no chance of success

  2. Read the guidelines. Then read them again. And again. Make sure you did not miss some obscure criteria or attachment they might want. Often, I will think a funder fits a project until I’ve read through the guidelines multiple times, because I may have missed something the first few times.

  3. Note the due dates. When is the grant due? Is that postmarked or arrived? If it is an online application, what time on that day is the deadline? In what time zone? I write these on my calendar to make sure they do not get lost in the shuffle of my other responsibilities. Do I need to set up an account on the online application portal in advance of the deadline? If yes, do so.

  4. Check budget specifics. How much will they fund? What will they fund? Use those as guidelines when you develop your budget. If you work with a finance office to develop the budget, get these details to them as soon as feasible.

  5. Outline the application narrative. This serves two purposes. First, it organizes your 

    thoughts and your research so you know what data to begin to collect. Second, and most importantly, it helps assure that you do not forget to answer a question or provide some required information. I will use the funder’s words in the outline so that I can parrot their words back to them and make sure I keep my information in the order requested.


  6. Add attachments or required forms on the outline. Again, that assures that you don’t forget to send an attachment or complete a form or ask for the information you need to create one. Nothing is more annoying than getting down to the 11th hour and realizing you never filled out the required data form or have the wrong financial forms.

  7. Write. As you write, refer back to the requirements and funder’s words to make sure you have not strayed from your original intent or theirs.

  8. Proof. Then proof again. Line up someone who has little or no knowledge of your program and ask him or her to review your grant for errors and understandability. Be sure this person will give you an HONEST assessment. It does you no good for them to tell you what a great job you did if your grant has gaps in logic. Ask them if your application makes them want to give to your organization. If not, go back to the drawing board to make it clearer or more persuasive.

  9. Double check the submission requirements. How many copies do you need? In what format do they want it submitted? Plan your timelines accordingly to meet (and beat) the deadline.

  10. Submit the application well before the deadline. Mistakes happen. Internet service goes down. People get sick. I always try to have a grant submitted at least 24 hours before the deadline. It does not always happen, but I find those grants submitted early as much more enjoyable experiences than those that go down to the wire.