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Grant Writing 101: Start with the Basics

Grant writing is a unique skill that combines meticulous attention to detail and storytelling to create a compelling proposal for grant awards. Whether the application process is complex with multiple parts, like many federal and state grants, or is simpler and more streamlined, as for many community-based organizations and private entities, the same best practices hold true.

And because grant writing is unique and can unlock valuable funds for a wide range of projects, from research to entrepreneurial start-ups to community programs, an expert grant writer can make the difference when seeking funds from a grant program. At Boost Midwest, our Grants Management Team is experienced in fulfilling all proposal requirements while creating a convincing narrative.

But all grant writers should become familiar with these basic best practices when submitting a proposal.

1. Remember the 5 Rs of Grant Writing

Since grant writers usually have little or no idea who will review the proposal they submit, uncertainty is part of the process. What are the grant reviewer's expectations? Are they experts on the subject at hand? How experienced are they at reviewing grant proposals and applications?

Using the 5 Rs of grant writing offers a way for proposals to leave a positive impression on reviewers while covering the basics of of preparing a grant proposal:

  • Readiness. Every grant writer should become 100% familiar with everything about the grant in question. What does the funding organization expect the grant to achieve? What documents must be included with the proposal? Knowing the grant guidelines before starting the process equals a better chance at giving the funder precisely what they are looking for.

  • Research. Part of the grant writing process is researching everything about the organization funding and/or awarding the grant. And naturally you should also thoroughly research the grant itself.

  • Relationships. Building relationships is key to success as a grant writer. It's as simple as keeping in touch with key people in the funding organization and, of course, your client or clients. And these relationships often begin with submitting a Letter of Interest, Inquiry or Intent (LOI) ahead of a grant.

  • Writing. Kick into your best storytelling gear when drafting an outline and/or narrative for your grant. A grant application should tell a story: the story of why your client deserves this grant and how they will use it to achieve their own — and the grantor's — goals.

  • Reporting. Every grantor wants to know the effect of their funding. This is done through reports that usually clearly outlined as requirements of accepting a grant award. Of course, this can depend on the granting organization and/or complexity of the grant. And as many grants require reporting throughout the lifecycle of the grant, it's important to submit reports when expected to keep the grantor satisfied the funds are being used as expected.

2. Know What an Excellent Proposal Looks Like

Grants are offered by federal or state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private entities or foundations. But proposals to any and all of these ask the same of proposals, no matter the focus of the grant. The key qualities of excellent proposals are universal but keep in mind they are also subjective. So, it helps to become familiar with winning proposals, and many organizations post these online or will share upon request.

What all excellent grant proposals share are these qualities:

  • Clarity. Make sure the goals and objectives for the project are measurable, and there's a clear out outcome-based evaluation plan in place.

  • Concise. All application questions should be answered directly and contain the specific relevant information requested.

  • Compelling. This winds back to storytelling, as the proposal should be written in a manner that makes the reviewer want to move forward with your idea.

3. Do Your Homework

Before starting a grant proposal, make sure your research is complete. You should know:

  • The funding priorities.

  • Application process.

  • Application deadline.

  • The organization's grant history.

  • Where the grants are awarded geographically.

  • The average grant award size.

Once you know all the details surrounding a grant, you then can ask the right questions when contacting the funding organization. This is the path to building that important relationship with the people who are awarding the grants.

Building relationships is a key priority at Boost Midwest. Beyond our expertise in writing LOIs, gathering data, financials and the anecdotal information required by grantors; writing a persuasive narrative; and fulfilling reporting requirements through the lifecycle of a grant award, Boost Midwest creates connections and relationships that can help create a winning grant proposal.

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Ready to learn more about how Boost Midwest can help you optimize your project management and operations? Schedule your free consultation call with us today using our Quick Schedule Link here.

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