Grant Application Tips

A grant application generally consists of three parts: the application form or forms, the narrative, and the budget. Grant writers and grant givers alike caution applicants to give equal weight to all three sections, and they provide the following advice for completing each part successfully. Here are some grant application tips:

Fill out application forms meticulously and completely. Read the questions carefully — read them again — and then proofread your answers. Type answers, if possible; otherwise print them neatly and legibly.

Getting Your Grant Request Approved

The narrative section of the application usually includes:

  • a statement of need, including the project’s purpose, goals, and measurable objectives. This section can also include background on how and why the project was conceived and should include a compelling reason why the proposal should be funded.
  • the planned approach, including an explanation of how the project’s goals and objectives will be met, what activities will be used, what personnel will be needed, and how that personnel will be utilized.
  • a discussion of the assessment procedure, including how the project will be evaluated and specific measurement strategies.
  • a timeline that includes the start and end dates of the project and a schedule of activities.
  • the applicant’s credentials, including information that demonstrates his or her background and ability to carry out the project successfully.
  • a clincher. You won’t find this on the funder’s guidelines, but it’s the critical aspect of your narrative. Provide information in a way that clearly demonstrates to the reviewers why the project is needed. Clearly define why it is an important funding opportunity for their business or organization.

Let the funder know that the project is important to you and that you’re excited about its possibilities.

Remember to make your narrative clear, concise, and interesting to read. Write professionally, but avoid too much educational jargon. Define any educational buzz words that you do use. (Remember, the reviewers might not be educators!)

Be specific about your project’s goals and objectives — and focus on results! Most importantly, follow the rules set down by the funder.

Don’t assume that more is better or that your way is better. Most funders know what they want and ask for it.

The budget provides funders with cost projections for the project. Your budget should be specific, reasonable, realistic, accurate, and flexible — in case the funder wants to negotiate the funding amount.

Be sure to include other revenue sources, if any are available. Above all, make sure the budget is consistent with the narrative. Don’t include budget items that aren’t mentioned in the proposal or omit costs for projected activities.

Some funding sources may also require a variety of supporting documents as part of the application. Those could include endorsements, resumes, additional project information, visual aids, and so on.

Don’t assume that your funder wants — or even allows — those documents, however. Ask if you aren’t sure.