All jokes aside, as tedious as the application process can be, it is also an extremely important one. Grants often make up a majority of funding for nonprofits and receiving, or not receiving, a grant can have a huge effect on programming and other initiatives.
Grant writing is a skill and, like with any skill, it is something you get better at with time and practice. That said, there are a few key things you can do to help set yourself up for success.
It is easy to underestimate the amount of time a grant proposal can take. At first glance an application can seem rather straightforward, but often there are more comprehensive documents that need to be developed and attached as part of your submission.
Once you have nailed down the grants you will be applying for, make sure to allocate at least a week prior to the due date to focus on the application. That said, everything else doesn’t stop just because a grant is due! So it is advisable to give yourself extra time just in case something comes up. It is always better to have extra time as opposed to burning that midnight oil the night before it’s due.
Get familiarized and organized
Every grant process is a little bit different, and often involves a specific interface that you need to use in order to submit. Although a lot are straightforward, some can be rather tricky. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the interface prior to starting your application so nothing gets lost or missed.
Similarly, most grants provide a breakdown or summary of what needs to be submitted. Utilizing this list as a checklist can help ensure that nothing gets missed in your submission. We recommend printing this out and physically crossing things off as they are completed. On top of keeping you organized, you also get that amazing feeling that comes with crossing something off a list!
Make sure to answer questions in the order they are listed and try to use the same headers and terminology. Oftentimes, funders will also provide you with specific forms and templates that you are expected to use so keep an eye out for those. All these things are a subtle way of showing that you can follow directions, which can signal to funders how well you will be able to complete necessary reports and follow-up items after being awarded a grant.
Communicate and clarify
Contrary to popular belief, funders actually want to hear from you! They know exactly what they are looking for and are there to help. If any part of the application has you stumped, a quick email asking for clarification can save you a ton of time. Plus reaching out to a prospective funder not only helps clarify expectations, it can also help build a strong relationship.
Save your submissions
It is good practice to save and file away old submissions just in case you need to refer back to them. That said, old submissions can also be incredibly helpful for the next time you have a grant to submit. Having access to previous grant documents can save a lot of time and energy as old information can often be reused and updated. Although specific items, such as programming and budget, will probably change significantly, other items, like an organization’s profile, may only need to be updated slightly. The same can be said for formatting. This is especially helpful if you tend to apply for the same grants as applications are usually very similar year-to-year.
Grant writing can be intimidating, but with these tips (and a lot of coffee) we know you can do it! Now that you are all prepped and ready to go, it is time to start writing. For tips on how to improve your actual grant writing, check out our previous blog post.
As always, Take Roots is here to help! We offer grant writing workshops, third party review as well as one-on-one consultation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.