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Tips for Creating a Strong Grant Application

Follow directions

Read all of the guidelines and directions and be sure to include all of the information asked for, in the format requested.

Write in a simple, direct, and persuasive style

  • Don’t assume that the funder knows anything about your mission, community, or project unless you’ve told them.
  • Make sure your ideas are organized and easy to understand.
  • Don’t use jargon or other special words that people outside of your field won’t know.
  • Spell out abbreviations.
  • Express your passion and excitement about your work or project.
  • Have someone else proofread your proposal to correct any errors.

Do your homework

  • Be able to explain why your project should be important to the funder and how it matches their grant guidelines.
  • If others are doing similar work, explain what makes your work unique.

Be as specific as you can

  • Use numbers, percentages, and other data.
  • Don’t write: “Last year, we served hundreds of developmentally disabled children.” when you can write “Last year, we served 1,235 individuals between the ages of 10 and 16, or more than 27% of all developmentally disabled young people in Waldo County.”

Slick doesn’t count! Preparation does

A good proposal isn’t just fancy format, paper, or graphics. Good proposals are made of good ideas, lots of planning, and careful work.

Provide a strong and accurate budget

  • Whenever possible, show that your project has other forms of support:
    • List other grants or sources of funding you have received or are trying to get.
    • Don’t forget to include in-kind support.
  • Double-check your budget to be sure that it is correct.

Tips for creating a strong Project Budget

  • Involve financial managers or others with expertise, such as accountants.
  • Ask for help if you need it.
  • Make sure the numbers in your proposal and your budget agree.
  • Use existing budgets as templates.
  • Check your math!
  • In multi-year budgets, increase annual costs after year one to reflect inflation.