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Grant Writing and Grant Resources Guide: Grant Writing Tips

This guide was created for faculty use, specifically with finding and writing grants.

Websites with Grant Writing Tips

The Chronicle provides news and information for tax-exempt organizations in a variety of areas and features lists of grants, fundraising ideas and techniques, statistics, reports on tax and court rulings, summaries of books, and a calendar of events.

              Search for your grants by state.

Supports committed community-based and national organizations, focusing significant resources on places where children face especially tough challenges. The Kellogg Foundation also works with larger coalitions, providing leadership and funding to help them expand their reach and influence. The website includes a grants database, information for grantees and grant-seekers, as well as a logic model development guide for grants and an evaluation handbook for project directors who have direct responsibility for funded projects.



Five Common Grant Writing Mistakes

1. An ill-defined problem

Do you understand the problem you are trying to address? Can you explain it clearly to the person who is reading the grant application and who may not have any knowledge of your organization's mission or purpose?

2. Copying and pasting large portions from one section to another (repeating too much of the same information)

If you simply copy and paste large chunks of information from one section to the next, you lose your audience. Don't repeat yourself. Be more creative than that.

3. A budget that is not clear, or that does not total to the amount requested

Have you thought out how to spend the money if you get it? Are you asking for "supplies/consumables" that most funding organizations would expect you to be able to pay for as part of your regular budget? Are you asking for items that would outlive the grant for an unreasonable amount of time, but have not addressed how you would pay for maintenance, repairs, etc. after the grant funding stops? Does your math add up?

4.  A lack of a viable, concrete solution that is clearly explained

Does your grant read like you are throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something sticks? Does it read like it was written the day before it was due? Does it have grammar or spelling errors?

As you work with your team to write the grant proposal, does everyone have the same vision and goals? Or is the team leaving it all to one person to define the problem and layout the objectives? If you are planning education outreach activities, and are requesting funding for additional staffing, how are you going to pay for the staffing when the money runs out? If you are asking for funding of a website, brochures, supplies, additional phones, etc. for an awareness campaign, how will you maintain the momentum gained after the grant is finished? If you are asking for funding for new beds for a shelter, who will pay utilities, maintenance, etc. when the funding is gone? 

5. A lack of direction

If the grant application doesn't convince the funding organization that you have a mission and a goal that is both practical and clearly defined for the audience, they won't fund it. Be specific about objectives, milestones, and outcomes.

The Grant Writing 102: Tips for Successful Grantwriters GuideStar Blog provides Ten Tips for Grant Writers that should be considered:

  1. Request guidelines, annual reports, and other pertinent information from the foundation before sending a grant proposal. You may be able to download most of this information from the organization's Web site.
  2. Unless your organization is a national one, try to stay local when looking for funding sources, particularly for operating or program costs. National foundations are more likely to fund capital expenses of programs that can be replicated nationally.
  3. Do you know the trustees? If the foundation is local, run the names of the trustees and foundation staff by your board. They often run in the same circles, and one phone call can help put your grant proposal on the top of the pile.
  4. Work with your program staff to be sure your information is up to date and relevant. They can also provide you with anecdotes and client testimonies that you might not otherwise have.
  5. Although it is often the nature of the beast, try not to wait until the last minute to prepare your grants. Do not use Express Mail to send your application. Using Express Mail can signal to the grantmaker that your organization is a poor steward of funds.
  6. Don't send a lot of "fluff" attachments. Many grantmakers will specify what to send. Don't send more than they request.
  7. If you are awarded a grant, be sure to send progress reports, whether they are requested or not. Keep in touch with your funding sources.
  8. Some foundations can be very picky. They have their reasons. If they specify page length, page margins, typeface, etc., be sure to follow the specifications.
  9. Before mailing out your grant proposal, call the foundation to be sure you have current contact information.
  10. Many groups use a "Common Grant Application," developed by groups of grant makers to ensure that all applicants provide the same information. Be sure to check individual foundation guidelines to see if they use this tool.

When you are writing a grant...

Cover all of your bases

  • Clearly delineate your idea in the Abstract
    • Scope, Sequence, Intent
  • Clearly define the Problem
    • What?
    • Who?
    • How?
  • State Goals and Objectives
    • Are they measurable?
    • Attainable?
    • Do they include milestones?
  • Include Theoretical Framework
    • Used to evaluate outcomes
  • Include how grant's goals and objectives will be evaluated
  • Include a Budget