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10 Tips For Getting That Grant

Grant writing can be exhausting, but few things can help you understand your business better inside and out than writing a proposal. By focusing more on the understanding of your business and less on the win, you’ll find the process much easier. Yes, chasing the money is the ultimate goal, but by shifting your mindset you can gain valuable information and identify the root of many pain points.

Here are 10 quick tips for getting that grant:

Write Specifically For That Grant

Choose one aspect of your business that speaks directly to the grant proposal. If you are applying as a woman-owned business, speak to the way this sets you apart in your industry. If you are applying as a new business, talk about your market research. Whatever that grant covers, stick to that topic across the entire proposal, don’t bog it down with irrelevant data.

Keep It Readable

Every industry has shorthand and jargon, but your audience may not know anything about your business. You want to appeal to an audience that has no knowledge of your industry by speaking about your story and how the grant can help further your vision. Also remember that the people reading the proposals can be overwhelmed and easily tune out when they don’t understand what they are reading.

Tell A Good Story

The purpose of a grant isn’t just to formally list what your business does and how the grant can help them, but rather to use your proposal to tell the story of your business and why you are so passionate about it and how the grant funding can bring about solutions to help you succeed. Be positive and show how you plan to accomplish your objectives.

Double Check Your Budget

When you map out a budget as part of the grant proposal, double and triple check your math; any flaws in the budget breakdown can take you directly out of the running. Be sure your proposal shows you in the best light and not that you may have issues with stewardship of money. You also need to ensure that your budget is thorough. Have a business partner or someone close to your business proof it for you to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

Be Big On The “Why” as well as the “Who”

Small business owners applying for grants often spend more time on the Who than the Why. Yes, your specific story is important, but outlining why you should receive the grant is important as well. Why should they reward you the money? How will you spend it in a better way than the other applicants?

Case Studies

If you can, incorporate a case study of a real client (preferably with a noted name change for confidentiality). Show how a real client had a real need and how you were able to meet that need and how it prepared you for the next steps and how the grant can make that happen.

Hire An Editor

It is surprising how many grants are submitted with improper grammar, misspellings, sometimes even the wrong word entirely. Sometimes your words paint a great picture but lack the level of punch they require to stand out. After you finish your first draft, you should hire someone to proofread or copyedit your application. The small amount of money it takes can make the difference between success or failure in obtaining the funding.

Research Research Research

Did you know you can write to government-funded agencies and request copies of the funded applications for a grant? Under the Freedom of Information Act, this is publicly available information, so why wouldn’t you use them as a guideline on how to write an award-winning grant application?

Short But Sweet

Write in short, hard-hitting sentences that don’t run the risk of losing the reader. Shorter sentences also give an underlying sense of urgency in a narrative which can make a reader less likely to set it down.

Show Honest Financial Data

When you clearly state your end goal, you may concentrate on where you wish to go and how this funding can get you there. Don’t forget that you may need to show where you’re coming from and be required to include any metrics of progress you have made thus far toward that goal, what performance measures you have in place and how your financial health has been while heading toward that goal. Some grants, especially larger ones, may require a critical review of your financial documents. Be prepared to submit an annual organizational budget, audit for the previous and current fiscal year, and any banking information that may be requested. Transparency is key. If you feel you have some revenue ambiguity in the past, be prepared to explain what you learned from these issues.

And while not a tip specifically, it is good to keep in mind:

Follow Instructions

According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, roughly 80% of grant applications are rejected immediately for not meeting the parameters of the grant or for not following the instructions. You may find in the small print that the grant has a geographic limit, a specific timing of incorporation, or not respond to all aspects of a question that is asked. Pay attention to any samples of responses that are provided as your response should follow the same format.