Eight Grant Writing Basics

The key information you need to know getting started in grant writing

Grant writing can often feel like traversing uncharted territory, but fear not! Partner for Better (PFB) has distilled the grant writing basics into a systematic approach to help you navigate the intricacies of securing funding. Here’s your comprehensive guide to the grant writing basics:

Organize Your Documents: The Foundation of Success

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of grant writing, ensuring your organizational paperwork is in order lays a robust foundation for success. Create a dedicated folder in your file management system labeled “Grants,” with individual folders for each grant or funder. In a separate folder titled “Grant Docs,” compile essential documents:

  1. Articles of Incorporation: Confirming your legal status.
  2. IRS 501(c)3 Determination Letter: Ensuring tax-exempt status.
  3. State Tax Exempt Letter: Additional verification of your tax-exempt status.
  4. Board Bylaws and List of Members: Highlighting your governance structure.
  5. Organizational Chart: Illustrating your hierarchy and structure.
  6. Most Recent Organizational Annual Budget: Offering insight into your financial health.
  7. Most Recent Fiscal Audit and Form 990: Demonstrating financial transparency.
  8. W-9 Signed in the Current Year: Providing essential tax information.
  9. E-Verify Memo (if applicable): Confirming legal employment status.
  10. Missouri Secretary of State Certificate of Good Standing (if in MO): Verifying your active status.
  11. Annual Report or Outcomes from the Previous Year: Showcasing your impact.
  12. A Short Boilerplate with History, Mission, Vision, and Program Outline: Crafting a succinct snapshot of your organization.

Set a regular calendar reminder for annual updates to keep this arsenal polished and ready for grant applications.

Identify Your Needs: The Starting Point for Funding

Once your organizational documents are in order, it’s time to identify your needs. Make a comprehensive list of items and projects your organization requires. From computers and program supplies to vehicles and training, enumerate everything. Grants often favor tangible items, so be specific about your needs. Additionally, list future projects and aspirations, backed by demographic data and program specifics.

Craft Your Story: The Power of Narrative

Preparing to tell a compelling story about your organization is paramount. Clearly articulate what you do, how you do it, whom you help, and why your cause deserves investment. Elicit emotions and emphasize your problem-solving approach. Be ready to narrate a captivating story that resonates with the funder’s objectives.

Define Your Funding Requirements: Clarifying the Ask

Determine the specific needs for which you’re seeking funding. While general operating grants are rare, be explicit about your project’s purpose, impact, goals, action plan, timeline, milestones, and expected outcomes. Avoid jargon or excessive language; clarity is key.

Research and Eligibility: Find the Right Fit

Thoroughly research potential funders to ensure alignment with your mission. Examine their history, objectives, and preferences. Confirm eligibility by assessing their previous beneficiaries. Don’t invest time in applications where you feel eligibility is a stretch.

Budgeting Basics: Transparent Financial Planning

Create a budget that’s clear and comprehensible. Break down estimated costs and outline other revenue sources for the project or program. Double-check your calculations and ensure transparency in your financial planning. You can learn more about this here!

Follow Directions Precisely: Details Matter

Pay meticulous attention to the application guidelines. Read through the entire application, noting specific requirements, word counts, formatting rules, and submission instructions. Adhering to these details not only demonstrates professionalism but also increases your chances of success.

Honesty is Key: Building Credibility

Funders appreciate honesty. If your organization faces challenges, openly acknowledge them. Transparency enhances your credibility and shows that you’re realistic about potential hurdles.

Review and Finalize: The Last Lap in Grant Writing Basics

Seek an external perspective by having someone outside your organization review the grant proposal for clarity and readability. Ensure your submission contains only the necessary information without unnecessary attachments.

Mastering the art of grant writing takes practice, and with these grant writing basics, you’re well on your way to crafting compelling proposals. For more guidance on grants, reach out to us to explore how PFB can help you increase your grant writing success.