Writing a winning grant for a nonprofit organization might seem like an easy task. However, grant writing requires specific writing skills designed to persuade the audience to fund a given request. For many nonprofits, grant funding provides a hefty component of their program revenue.
In this article, we’ll explore the tips and tricks you need to know on how to write a grant proposal for a nonprofit.
Tips to Remember: How to Write Grants for Nonprofits
Before we explore tips on how to write grants for nonprofits, there are a few preliminary steps you should take.
Before Grant Writing
1. Make Sure the Grant Aligns with the Mission
First, begin by re-reading the grant proposal to ensure you’re a good fit. Explore the funder’s mission and requirements for grant proposals to make sure your proposal fits. This will help you save time and make sure your grant has a legitimate chance of funding.
When it comes time to write your grant narrative, you’ll want to draw a connection between how your organizational goal aligns with the goal/mission of the funder.
2. Read the “Fine Print”
In addition to ensuring the grant project fits the parameters listed in the proposal, you’ll also want to do a thorough re-read of the entire grant requirements. This includes paying close attention to requirements such as matching funds, attachments, letters of support, and other necessary attachments.
Before you begin writing a grant proposal, make sure you and your team can obtain these attachments by the grant period. Often, many organizations get carried away with writing a grant, that they fail to meet the other necessary supporting requirements.
Writing the Grant Narrative
3. Answer Questions Clearly
A big part of how to write grants for nonprofits includes the organization’s ability to answer a few questions. Each grant proposal may have different questions to answer, but they’re often the same questions worded differently. Most commonly, you’ll answer these questions:
- Why does your nonprofit need grant funding?
- What makes your nonprofit special? When compared with other similar organizations in the region, what sets yours apart?
- How will you use the grant funding to make a profound impact on the community you serve?
- How will the program be sustained after grant funds are used?
- Who will oversee/follow through with the grant activities?
When answering these questions, be clear yet concise. Always stick to the word limit or character limit provided by the grant (in some cases, there may not be a limit). Read through your answers from an “outsider’s view” and consider questions the reader may have. This can help you to find any missing info or gaps in the content.
4. Check the Rubric
Certain grants may be more competitive than others. In instances where a grant has many applicants, scorers may review the grant on a rubric or scale. If a rubric is provided, use this tool to your advantage.
Go through each component of scoring to ensure you’ve accurately met each requirement. In the case of competitive grants, a few points can make a big difference in your chances of receiving grant funding.
5. Create a Powerful Story
In the case of competitive grant applications, funders may receive an abundance of qualified applicants. In these scenarios, your organization’s story could be what you sets you apart. Telling your “story” involves touching on the heart string of the grant readers. When writing your grant narrative, it may be helpful to share a real story of a person who has benefited from your organization’s services (using their permission or an anonymous name).
Furthermore, support your story with real facts. How many people per year have your organization impacted? In what ways were they impacted? The way you tell your organization’s story matters. Think of the way the American Cancer Society or another major nonprofit appeal to their donors. Notice how they often make it personal to the viewer? In writing your grant narrative, you can do the same thing by appealing to the emotions of the grant scorers.
6. Use Clear Language
Unlike academic writing, the tone and language used in grant writing are not intended to be overly fancy. It is important that your proposal reads well and answers questions effectively. It may help to have someone outside the organization read the proposal before submission.
This can help you get non-biased feedback on which sections may need improvement.
7. Don’t Forget to Edit
In lengthy grants especially, it can be easy to miss typos and spelling errors. Using editing software, such as Grammarly, can help you catch small details and errors. However, this is not a replacement for a full read-through and double-check. Before submission, always read your grant proposal from start to finish. Pass along to other people in the organization too. The more eyes on the proposal, the better!
Although it may seem negligible, many grants with fierce competition pay close attention to formatting, typos, and other small details. In some cases, too many errors can reflect poorly on the professionalism of your organization.
8. Keep Connected
Thought your work was done after you submitted the grant? Think again! A big part component of how to write grants for nonprofits (and one that’s often forgotten) is the follow-up. Some grants may tell you a date that they will announce rewards or a general timeframe. However, it’s always a good idea to follow up if you don’t hear back within the range.
Many grants will send a rejection letter if your grant was not awarded. If you don’t receive anything, it can be helpful to reach out to the point of contact to show your interest. Even if your grant was not selected, it may make a difference should you apply again in future grant cycles.
9. Build Relationships
As with many other forms of fundraising, your organization’s ability to win a grant may depend on relationships and connections. Stay connected with funders by attending their events and signing up for the newsletter. Many grantors also hold grant information sessions and FAQ sessions. These sessions not only give you an opportunity to better understand a grant, but it’s also an opportunity to make connections.
10. Don’t Neglect Reporting
If your award has been selected, congratulations! However, again, your work doesn’t stop here. Staying up-to-date on grant reporting is crucial to maintain a good relationship with the grantor. Failure to meet grant reporting deadlines or other requests could impact your ability to win future grants.
Upon award, many grantors will outline reporting due dates or request signatures for grant award letters. Meet these requests promptly to show your appreciation and excitement about the grant award. Furthermore, consider the goals you stated in the grant proposal. How will you put these into action?
Keep good records and notes of progress made throughout the grant period. Many grants will request detailed reports that include data. Instead of panicking a week before the grant report is due, consider these reporting metrics throughout the grant period. This will make it easier to meet requirements when interim or post-grant reports are due.
Kupala Ventures Can Help
Are you struggling with how to write grants for nonprofits? Kupala Ventures can help! We offer a wide array of grant writing services to help you create the winning grant proposals you seek. Contact us today to learn more about how our project planning sessions and grant writing services can help your organization succeed.