3 Keys to Effective Grant Writing

I am excited to announce the opening of Getting Funded—The Grant Writing Process, a course that I developed to teach all of you how to write grants and get funded! I wanted to kick off the course by sharing 3 keys to effective grant writing.

1. Know the Funder 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to know the funder when you are applying for a grant. The potential funder is the audience of your application, and therefore, the more you know about him or her, the more likely it is that you will receive funding.

Each funder has different requirements for their grant applications and these are not always online. Sometimes it is best to call and talk to the foundation you are interested in and get a feel for who they are and what is important to them.

Questions to ask about a funder:
  • Are they more formal or informal?
  • Do they like creativity in the grant applications they receive?
  • Do they have a formal application process?
  • How much money do they typically award for each grant? (you would not want to ask them for way more or less than their typical amount)
  • What issues do they care about?
  • What regions do they fund? (many funders have specific geographic locations that they will and will not fund)

2. Nail the Need Statement 

The need statement is the most important part a grant application. The need statement is the issue, problem, or opportunity that the organization addresses. Without a strong need statement, the funder will not understand why you are applying for funding or why they should give any funding to your organization. The need statement is weaved into the grant application and everything that you write in the application should connect back to the need or issue that you are addressing.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you are crafting your need statement:
  • What is the issue or problem that our organization is addressing?
  • What would the world look like if we did not pay attention to this issue?
  • What will the world look like because of our efforts?
  • Why is this issue important for those affected?
  • Why should society as a whole pay attention to this issue?

3. Use Sufficient Evidence 

Evidence is important in grant applications because it builds credibility for the issue you are working for. It is a good idea to use multiple types of evidence in grant applications. For instance, it is a good idea to use all of the following:

  • Personal Stories
  • Statistics
  • Peer Reviewed Articles (Research Articles)

Personal stories can be stories that the nonprofit organization’s staff has experienced as they have worked hand-in-hand with the beneficiaries. Other personal stories could come from the beneficiaries themselves. These are some of the strongest personal stories, when you can talk to a beneficiary about their lives and how they have personally been impacted by the nonprofit’s work.

Statistics and research articles can add credibility to your issue. For instance, you can say that drugs are a large issue for youth in Oklahoma, but it is more convincing if you have the data and statistics (from a reputable source) to back that up.

Additionally, the evidence that you use in a grant application directly influences how strong your need statement is. Every piece of evidence that you use should elaborate, expand, explain, and improve the need statement. For example, if I were writing a grant to apply for funding for an orphanage in Ukraine, I would use personal stories of the kids in the orphanage to explain why it is so important that we get funding. I would tell them about a little boy who would have never learned how to speak if it wasn’t for the orphanage who found him in his mother’s backyard and explain that with their additional funding the orphanage will be able to reach more desperate children.


Also, check out my grant writing course!

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