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Grant Writing Basics

Grant writing is not as scary as it seems (we promise!). Many non-profits get intimidated by the word count, searching for grants and the fear of not being successful. 

How can you conquer your fear of grants, and achieve success? Check out these 4 tips to help you write a winning grant.

1. Finding Grants

Finding grants is step one, and honestly can be very time consuming. We recommend signing up for email lists for your local, provincial and federal governments (where available- if not don’t hesitate to contact for more details!). Same with community foundations and corporate grantors in the area- if there is an email list you should be on it. 

Another great tool are grant finding databases like Hello Pocketed.  You can search based on the area you work in and see available grants. Diversify your search and keep an eye out wherever you can for potential granting opportunities.

2. Are You a Good Fit for the Funder?

Now that you know the grants available, the best way to be successful is to find a grant that is alligned with your organization and the work you seek to do. Working with animals, then you probably shouldn’t apply with a funder whose focus area is mental health. 

Sounds basic, but we see often non-profits not thinking about how they align with the grant and grantor, attempting to apply and ‘see what happens’. Please do your research and make sure it is a good fit mutually before you apply. 

3. Plain Language

If you haven’t heard of plain language yet, it is about to become your best friend. The basic idea is that your writing should be written in a style that is as accessible as possible, regardless if someone is familiar with your work or their literacy level. NEVER assume that because someone is in a certain position that they know your area or that they have university academic level literacy- you just never know. The risk is writing such a complicated, jargon-filled grant that the grantor struggles to understand what you are even talking about. Scrap run-on sentences with fancy academic words for simple words, lots of paragraphs (embrace white space!) and jot notes.

Make it easy for the grantor to understand exactly: 

  • Who you are (vision/mission/mandate)
  • What problem you solve (what issue do your exist to address?)
  • What you do (how do you work? Why?)
  • What you are planning to do and why (what evidence do you have that your methods have impact?)
  • How is what you plan to do aligned with the grantor or funding available? (Be specific- how are you a good fit?)
4. Be Realistic With Your Numbers

Ask for what you need. Nonprofits often think that by asking for less than the available grant, they make themselves more attractive to the funder and are more likely to win the grant. This is just not true.
From a funders perspective, they want to have the best chance of success with their investment. They want your grant to be realistic, have potential to be successful and make real impact. If you are planning a 6 week leadership course and only ask for $200, then the likelihood of success is low and the funder will not want to partner for a failed project. 
Ask for what you need, don’t inflate numbers and be honest. If your ask is too high, they will let you know. If your ask is too little you risk having your application scraped all together.

Grant writing doesn’t have to be so stressful. Sure, there is no way to guarantee success, but if you follow these 4 simple tips you are setting yourself up for a positive outcome. Remember too- sometimes you can have a killer proposal, seem to be a good fit with the funder, but your project just isn’t what they are looking to fund. 

Need extra help? We offer training and grant writing services. Book a free consultation to see if we can help build capacity or take some of the stress off your workload. 

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