Grant Writing Made Easy: 5 Hacks to Write a Grant Proposal

This week, I’m going to teach you how to write winning grants with this 5-step How to Write a Grant Proposal.  This will help you with your confidence if you are a beginner grant writer or even an advanced grant writer.

If you want a free grant writing class you can watch NOW, check out this free grant class.

So if you’re a new grant writer, but you aren’t sure how you can write winning grants, or you’re an experienced grant writer looking to understand the basic formula of all grant structure, you’ll discover how grant writers like you and me can write winning grants – and why it’s critical you focus on this right now.

In last week’s podcast, we talked about a process for creating award-winning grant applications.  I shared how this is going to immediately help you simplify grant lingo, so you feel less overwhelmed, check out Grant Language Made Easy.  So, if you listened to that podcast go back and watch it now – and then come back to this one.

This week I am going to build on what we discussed by sharing the #1 thing you must master if you want to write winning grants.  Think of this as your “first step” towards making this happen.

This is an entirely new way of thinking about grant writing, so you will want to pay close attention.

I am also going to share how to write a budget.  When you know how to do this, you will know exactly what funding you can request.

The goal is to break you free of being unsure of how to ask for money.  This way, you will never have to worry about how to write winning grants which means you’ll with your confidence if you are a freelance grant writer or write a grant for a specific nonprofit.

We have got a lot to cover today, so be sure to have your pen and paper ready to take notes as you follow along.

Any time you are trying to write winning grants, it is inevitable you’ll hit roadblocks.  You might have experienced some of them already.

Things like pulling out your hair, staring at a blank screen, and even not even knowing where to start.

Well, here is what I know to be true: if any of this sounds familiar, it’s totally normal.

But if you simply accept this at face value, you will never write winning grants.

And I know where you are coming from.  I get that it feels like some of this is out of your hands.

It’s frustrating to come up against these things – again and again.  I’ve been there myself, and I’ve seen other Grant Writers go through the same thing.

And it’s especially stressful because you know that getting past these challenges is key in helping you write winning grants.

So, in this podcast and article, I’m going to make it easy for you.  I’ll help you avoid these usual headaches by showing you the simple steps I follow to write winning grants which will save you lots of frustration.

So let’s get into the meat and potatoes of today’s article and podcast with these 5 Hacks to Write a Grant Proposal.

Okay, so when starting to write a grant application the first thing you need to do is:

#1) Get the Funding Opportunity Announcement or Request for Proposal

I never start with a blank page because I copy and paste what it is in the FOA for the criteria directly into my Word document or Google doc.

Firstly, I do this because I need to make sure the nonprofit is eligible for the grant program, but secondly, I do this because I am writing in response to what the funding source has requested. Now if you spend time writing a flowery narrative but it includes WAY more (or none) of the information requested the funding source is going to be a bit frustrated.

Sound harsh?

It is the truth and it’s not meant to be mean at all. A lot of these funding sources receive hundreds of applications and they need to follow what their priorities are. If they do not see that you are directly responding to their individual request they won’t look favorably on your application.

Another helpful reason I copy and paste the criteria and then turn it into headers is that it takes my guesswork out and gives me a guide. No more blank pages.

#2) Research the Needs

To create a compelling case for a grant application, you need to provide statistics and facts. A flowery statement about how awful the situation might get some tears, but it will not get grants won.

The funding source wants to know how well you can meet their priorities, so they know there is a gap and a need. Chances are they are as passionate as you are about solving the problem. But sad pictures and horror stories do not paint a complete picture. They need to see statistics, surveys, and case studies to show the need.

So, if you are pursuing a grant to serve human trafficking survivors, do put in the number of prosecuted cases in your region, the number of trafficked victims, and geographic vulnerabilities such as interstate highways, etc. Also, use research when you can that is within the previous five years.

#3) Articulate the Goals & Narrow Your Objectives

The goal or goals in a grant is the overarching outcome. This needs to be clear for both you and the funding source. If you don’t have a goal then it will be confusing for both of you.

What is it you want to accomplish? What other community goals can you tie this into?

It might be: “To create safe homes for survivors of human trafficking in our region.”

This is important as it is the big picture.

The objectives are then what you can do to reach your goal. These objectives also need to be SMART, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

For example, an objective to reach your goal could be, “By the end of quarter one, to lease a 4-plex apartment building that will provide housing for 8 survivors of human trafficking.”

What other objectives do you think would be needed to reach your broad goal: “To create safe homes for survivors of human trafficking in our region?”

What about hiring services workers, buying housing consumables, linking to food pantries for food, workforce training, education services, etc.

#4) About Your Organization

You also want to include why the funding source should give you money. Include your board of directors or experience of the key employees to carry out the services of the project.

You can also include any experience the nonprofit has of winning grants or securing donations. This shows that you have credibility in managing funds.

#5) the Budget

Of course, you also must provide a request for the actual money via a budget. It is not enough to say you need $500,000. You need to show how that money is broken down.

I encourage you to include a spreadsheet (even if you copy and paste it into your Word doc).

I encourage grant writers to use the main categories of the federal government to include the following:

  • Personnel
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Travel
  • Contracts/Consulting
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Other
  • Indirect

In our example, the leases might fall into contracts or others. The household consumables would fall into supplies. Maybe you hire a full-time project director, then they would be in your personnel and also get fringe benefits of the very minimum FICA and Worker’s Compensation.

Once again if you use this template of categories, you might not fill all the categories in, but you have somewhere to start. This will also help if you get multiple grants as you utilize the same categories across different grant programs so can save time and energy tracking them in the same way.

So, there you go!

Let’s do a quick review of what we covered today.

First, we saw a whole new way to think about how to write winning grants.  You can use what you learned here today to immediately help you understand the basic formula of all grant structure.

Plus, you found out how to write a budget so you know what funding you can request.

It’s been a jam-packed podcast, so make sure you review your notes and put this into action right away.