An Overview of the Grant Writing Process

The following is a short excerpt from our class The Grant Fundraising Blueprint.  Enjoy!

The first thing you need to realize about raising more money through grants is that writing and winning grants is a process. The art of grant writing combines intimate knowledge about both the applicant and the grant funder.  Values should be shared, a vision agreed upon, priorities given and suggested strategies to achieve those priorities established. That’s really just a fancy way of telling you that the applicant organization and the grant funder should be simpatico. But how do you get to that point?

There is a sequence of events that occur to bring the applicant organization and the grant funder together:

1. The generation and development of an idea – This is the major project or program that’s agreed upon by key stakeholders such as staff and clients served should be funded. Everyone involved in this decision should address available resources needed for the project, any service delivery barriers that should be dealt with, goals and objectives for the program and suggested strategies for meeting those goals. A tentative budget of expected income and expenses should also be determined.

2. Identification of potential funding – Once a project for funding has been established, it’s time to research grant funding possibilities. Grant funds are available from both public and private foundation sources. The nonprofit searches for potential funders by identifying matching priorities, noting any restrictions and ensures that the foundation is accepting unsolicited or solicited applications.

3. Acquiring guidelines from grant funders – Grant guidelines are given to applicants to explain what information the funder requires to determine if funding will be awarded. Guidelines can range from very informal, like a one-page letter request, to very structured with a specific format and lengthy assurances and certifications.

4. Writing the application in compliance with guidelines – Typically, an application involves significant participation by the applicant organization while the grant writer provides guidance meeting the grant requirements. This is to ensure that the application reflects the applicant organization’s project focus and design.

5. Submitting the application – Once the application is completed, it must be submitted on time and in compliance with the grant requirements. Agencies requiring further information will contact the applicant.

6. Administering the program if funded – The work doesn’t end just because the grant was won! The project has to be administered in accordance with what was proposed in the application and the terms of the grant contract (if offered.) If the project isn’t funded – on to Plan B. Call the funder and ask why the application wasn’t funded and what could be done the next time to improve the application. Then modify the application and resubmit. Perseverance is the name of the game in winning grants.


Photo Credit: Sandy Kemsley