5 Key Elements Of Compelling Grant Writing

Updated: Jul 20

Effective grant writing is one of the keys to securing a grant, but it’s more challenging than some might expect. A grant proposal consists of various steps, and the style of writing needs to be academic and professional –– while still being easy to read and digest. Writing for grants doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, however. It’s a skill that can be learned and applied successfully.

Here, we’ll go over a few tips on how to approach grant writing and ultimately ace your proposal.

1. Don’t Rush

We know that it takes time out of your busy schedule to apply for grants –– and chances are, you’re planning on applying for quite a few. But one of the necessary evils is to spend time researching foundations and organizations that offer grants and take the time to read the requirements and fine print for each one. The more you pay attention to the small details, the more likely you are to stand out from the crowd.

2. Speak Their Language

Another important tip is to take some time to check out the funder’s website and try to incorporate some of their lingo into your grant proposal. This accomplishes a few things at the same time: First, it shows that you’ve done some research and checked them out (whereas using a template might be a faster way to get the proposal written, but it’s impersonal). Second, using their language and personalizing the proposal accordingly will help you establish a stronger relationship with the grantmaker and increase your chances of receiving a positive response.

3. Keep It Simple

In the same vein as using the grantmaker’s language, it’s also wise to make sure that you keep your grant proposal simple and easy to read. Stepping out from grant writing, there are near-universal benefits to communicating concisely, so long as you are also effective. Attention spans are short, people are busy, and wordy, overcomplicated language tends to get lost in the shuffle no matter what sort of project or endeavor is at hand. This is certainly true with grant writing as well; your task is to convey what’s needed without unnecessary tangents or flowery language. You can also err on the side of keeping your proposal shorter rather than longer. No one wants to read more than they have to; your request and reason ought to be clearly stated in the opening paragraph.

4. Develop Research-Backed Credibility

While we tend to think of “good writing” as being largely about technical skills, cadence, and diction, qualified and professional writers have typically had to develop sound research skills as well. Whether as authors, editors, journalists, or even marketers, people who write professionally need to know how to find and use accurate information as efficiently as possible. You’ll need to do the same if you’re regularly writing grant proposals because a well-researched approach will lend you credibility. The topics of research will vary greatly depending on your purpose. But if you can develop your understanding and ideas through research, you’ll be a more serious candidate.

5. Reread Your Letter

When you’re writing –– and especially if you’re writing numerous proposals –– you’re bound to make mistakes. Grammatical errors, small spelling mistakes, and missing or extra words can always find their way into your writing, even if you typically pay close attention to detail. That’s why it’s important to learn how to be your own editor and make sure everything looks clean and reads well. It can be a tedious process, to be sure, but it’s one you’ll need to get comfortable with if you’re to make your writing as effective as it can be. And remember, you can always ask for help, too! It’s always a good idea to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work.

Writing compelling grant proposals can be an arduous task. But it’s one you can practice, improve, and ultimately master.


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