Updated: Jul 20, 2022
The concept of writing a grant for a nonprofit can be daunting and overwhelming to some, particularly if you're new to fundraising. It can feel as though you are being asked to speak in a different language or navigate some new level of answering questions with magical responses that inspire someone to choose your organization out of dozens or hundreds of applications.
Honestly, it's really not that mysterious.
Like anything worth doing, successful grant writing comes with experience. New grant writers should take every opportunity to learn from experts, read and review samples, connect with grant administrators for valuable insight, and get feedback on their own content from other grant writers and fundraising professionals. But there are tricks I can share to help you get started drafting grant content that is easy to customize for future requests.
The 5 Ws and 1 H
A seasoned grant writer will tell you that grant writing was not a skill that was learned overnight or even a light-bulb moment after taking an online course or reading a book. Like most things, it takes practice.
Our most often-suggested tip to new grant writers is to draft content based on the 5 Ws and 1 H. It answers a significant portion of the questions that most grant funders ask, particularly if they don't have an application form or guidelines for you to follow.
Start with a description of your organization. Who are you? Why do you exist? What prompted your founder to start the organization?
What does your organization do? What is your mission? What programs or services do you provide for your clients? What could you do if you were able to secure more funding?
Where are you located? Is there a specific reason you are located there that is tied to the services your nonprofit provides? If you are a more community-based organization, how do you fit within the larger picture on a state level, regional level, national level (if applicable)?
Do you provide services during a particular time of year? Or when will your new program for which you are seeking funds launch? What's your timeline for implementation? Explain why.
Why do you do what you do? Why is it important to your clients that you provide the services that you do? What would happen if your organization no longer existed or didn't have the funds to continue to serve your clients? Why does the issue you address exist? Insider tip: In this section, focus on data and not opinion. It's easy to inject your passion here, and while that's valuable, grant-makers want to see the facts.
How do you provide your services/programs? Explain them in detail as if you're speaking to someone completely unfamiliar with your organization. How do you make an impact? How are your clients' lives changed after they engage with your organization? How will you/do you measure success?
If you draft your grant content with these questions in mind when writing a request, you will be able to paint a detailed and engaging picture of why your organization is worthy of consideration and a valuable investment on the part of any grantmaker.
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