Grant Writing Tips From Top Foundations

What better source for grant writing tips than the top foundations that are doing the funding? Grant proposal expert Pamela Grow covers 8 tips for improving your grant proposal from the top funding sources.

Grant Proposal Writing

From following the guidelines and getting right to the point, Pamela provides succinct insights into what the foundations are looking for in their choices of the best grant proposals. Read more in this guest article below.

Writing Your Proposal – Top Tips From The Foundations

Although the specific guidelines for each foundation vary, most foundations are looking for the same kind of information to help them evaluate your request for funding. Check out these top tips from the foundations when you sit down to prepare your next proposal.

Follow the guidelines
First, be sure to follow whatever guidelines the foundation has provided you. If the foundation requires a specific cover letter or application form, be sure to use it-this makes their job easier and it shows that you’re serious about your proposal. (There’s a good chance that your proposal will not be read if you don’t use the appropriate form, so don’t ignore this basic but critical step.) Keep your reader in mind at all times, and help out by providing subheadings for each section of your proposal. Pay close attention to any page limits described in the guidelines, and be sure to submit all materials on time!

Get right to the point
Describe the specific goals and objectives of your project in a clear, concise summary, and do it right at the start. Don’t wait until the middle of your proposal to say what you want. This will probably require your project officer to go back and read from the beginning again. Clarity and concision-in defining your need, proposing a solution, and describing how the foundation can help-is the best way to start a proposal.

Represent your organization
Tell the foundation the mission and history of your organization-but do so briefly, in no more than a few paragraphs. Your goal here is to build credibility, describe the nature of your programs, and demonstrate your record for making positive change. Be sure to provide the essentials here, too: your location, size, budget, etc. How are you different from other organizations that do similar work?

Identify the problem
Your goal here is to demonstrate the importance of the problem and to show that your organization can provide an innovative solution. Since you can’t assume that the funder knows anything about your subject area, convey the essentials as clearly and convincingly as possible. Use both quantitative and qualitative evidence: include meaningful data as well as testimonials from your clients to tell the story of your project.

Identify clear and assessable goals
When you describe how your organization will tackle the problem, be as specific as possible. What are your goals, how will you reach them, and how will you measure your success? Include everything you’ve done already, such as research, planning and collaboration.

Name other sources of funding
Funders want to be a part of successful projects, but they seldom want to be the only funding party. Be sure to describe all other funding sources in your proposal, including in-kind contributions of goods and services, matching funds, etc.

How does your project provide a new approach to an existing problem? What is the project’s long-term vision? How will it be supported after the grant funding runs out? These are questions that your funder will likely be considering. Try to address them in your proposal.

Assessment tools
How will you measure the success of your project? Describe your assessment tools, including what data you’ll be collecting, who will gather it, and how it will be evaluated.

The foundations are your resources
Applying for grant funding can be a trying process, so it’s important to be patient and persistent. The foundations want to help you, so don’t feel bad about asking questions when you’re putting your proposal together.

You know your organization, you know your clients, and you know the importance of the work you do. Keep these tips in mind, and good luck with your next round of proposals!

For more tips on getting funded every time, read my book, Five Days to Foundation Funding, available at my website

About The Author

Pamela Grow has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1995. Since 2003 she has had her own private consultancy, assisting nonprofit organizations with proposal development, prospect research, annual appeal strategies and communication planning. Pamela is the author of “Five Days to Foundation Grants” and publishes a weekly blog, “Towards Effective Nonprofit Writing”  at

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