Monday, October 11, 2010

7 Quick Steps for Writing Grants

I have to make a confession, grant writing is my least favorite thing to do.  So when I come across expert advice, like the tips below from Betsy Baker, I cheer.  The first one about not creating new programs so you can slam your organization into a grant is the best!  Creating a new program in order to get a grant may actually cost you money in the long run in terms of staff time, resources, etc.  Following guidelines is critical.  I hope these and the rest of Betsy's quick steps are useful to you.  Bunnie

7 Quick Steps for Writing Grants
by Betsy Baker, Your Grant Authority

Sometimes I get into some pretty deep stuff about what I’ve learned during my last 16 years in fund raising and the tricks and tips I’ve used to secure boatloads of grant money. But sometimes I delve so deep to give my clients “insider” information that I forget to start with the basics. So, here you go, what is elementary to me is not for the grant writer that at this time is just poised for success and I promise not to leave you behind:

1. The grants you write should directly support your mission – Don’t go chasing those grant dollars that don’t apply to you and don’t crank up a new program just to get the money. Believe me when I tell you that it’s not worth it.

2. Determine programs that you can get funding for – Some of your programs are going to be more attractive to funders than others. Determine the program that the funder likes and match your application to those preferences.

3. Identify potential funding – Research and homework are essential for success in this step. Carefully comb through the grant funder’s requirements and preferences before submitting an application that doesn’t fit their criteria.

4. Acquire guidelines from the grantor – Guidelines are there for a reason! Follow them carefully and submit your application according to their instructions.

5. Write the application in compliance with the guidelines – Duh! But do you know how many applications are rejected simply because the potential grantee didn’t know how to follow simple instructions? Be sure that yours isn’t in the “reject” pile for that reason.

6. Submit the application – Again, follow the directions given. If it states that the application must be in their hot, little hands by 5:00 p.m. on August 3rd, that doesn’t mean 5:05. I’ve heard horror stories from writers that have written their fingers to the nub only to not be able to get the application in on time. Bonus tip for you – start the application in plenty of time!

7. Administer the program well if funded – Once you find out that you’ve gotten the grant, start thinking about next year’s application. Give them no reason during the funding period not to fund you again. Spend the money exactly how you detailed in your budget and regularly report progress of your goals and objectives to the funder.

You can contact Betsy at


  1. Betsy,
    I totally understand getting so deep that the basics get overlooked. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thanks for the excellent advice, Betsy. Sometimes we really need a quick refresher to help us put things in perspective.

  3. Betsy,

    I am amazed by how many times I have heard that nonprofits are having to go back to the basics to deal with the poor economic times. Why were the basics abandoned in good economic times?

    Thanks for providing the basics of writing grants. Regardless of how advanced the grant writer is, these should form the foundation. Great job!

  4. Excellent advice Betsy. I like the clear, simple steps.