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Five tips for writing a winning grant

So, you want to apply for a grant but you’re feeling overwhelmed?

Grant writing may seem daunting at first, but following these five tips will help bring you one step closer to securing the critical funding your project needs to make a positive impact. Following these key steps will ensure you master the grant writing process and leave no room for error. Make sure to save this page so you can use it as a guide for future applications!

Tip 1 - Research the funder


Each grant-maker has their own unique set of requirements and key priorities. Missing an important detail or even one small element could mean automatic disqualification. Before getting started on your application, make sure that you’ve thoroughly read over any grant guidelines, required attachments, formats, submission processes, and other key elements.


Take the time to read through the requirements and criteria before deciding what steps to take during the application process. Also, take note of the funder's values, priorities, and other specific conditions that are needed for the application. Use the information you’ve gathered to match the funder’s goals and objectives. If the information is available, review previous winning grant applicants to gain a greater understanding of what initiatives and projects the funder is looking for.

Tip 2 - The early bird gets the worm


Since most grant applications require a significant amount of project management and effort, it’s important to start early. Give yourself enough time to plan, research, collect data, and engage your team. Gathering all the information ahead of time will ensure that no important detail is missed. Mark submission dates on your calendar and check the progress of your application regularly!

Tip 3 - Put yourself in the funder’s shoes


When writing your grant application, make sure to use language that everyone can understand. Keep in mind that the person reading your application may not know anything about your program, organization, or subject matter. Avoid using acronyms or jargon that the average person won’t understand.


Don’t assume that the funder knows key information or important points, always include each detail to avoid any confusion. Re-read your application and consider it from a funder’s perspective. Make sure you’ve answered each question thoroughly and included each element. Take a proactive approach by anticipating any questions that the funder might have and provide the answers ahead of time.

Tip 4 - Proofread. Then proofread again!


Just like your college professor used to say, proofread your work! We often make small mistakes when proofreading and overlook our own errors, especially when feeling rushed and under pressure. Take the time to read each sentence carefully and with intention before submitting a flawless final copy. Double, even triple check your work. Make sure to print a copy so that it’s easier to focus on finding mistakes and grammatical errors.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your peers and colleagues! Enlisting the help of others can greatly alleviate stress while also giving you a new perspective from a fresh pair of eyes.

Tip 5 - Pull out all the stops


Most grant programs are highly competitive, so you’ll want to pull out all the stops to persuade the funder and highlight the urgency of your project. Make sure to emphasize the important elements by including key examples, relevant quotes, evidence-based data and statistics to solidify the significance of your project.


Providing accurate data when writing your grant will not only leave a lasting impression on the reader, it will also help tell your story and highlight your project’s impact. Including evidence-based data can help show the community need for your initiative, build your credibility as an organization, and shine a light on the impact grant funding will have on your project.


Consider adding data points such as:

  • How many program participants will be helped through your project.

  • How many people are currently on your program’s waitlist.

  • Positive outcomes through pre and post program surveys. For example, “99% of program participants reported an increase in their mental health.”

  • How many more program participants will be positively impacted because of this grant.

Need help with your next grant application?


Are you looking for help beyond these tips? I offer grant writing and research services for registered Canadian charities. Please reach out to me to schedule a consultation call.


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