Grant Writing--Step 1

Question: I'm new to the nonprofit world, and I'm facing my greatest personal challenge yet: I've been asked to write a grant! It seems really hard.  Can you give me any pointers?

Answer: Grant writing, like nearly everything else in life, is a lot easier than it seems.  Have you ever followed the directions to put together a piece of Ikea furniture before? It's a lot like that.  Grant writing is all about following directions and collecting the right information to make a case for  funding your project.

But it's important to get organized first. So what can you do to make sure you're ready to apply for a grant?

  • Are You Ready? Make sure you know everything about the project you're writing a grant to fund before you start writing.  Make sure you collect information like whether your organization is actually 501c3 nonprofit (seems obvious, but important!), that you have a project to fund, that you know its' costs, timeline, how the project will help fulfill the organization's mission, whether you have the capacity and leadership to do the work, and whether you have the answers to all the grant-maker's questions.

  • Are You a Good Match? Sometimes it's not you, it's them.  So, make sure you and the foundation are a good match before diving in and writing a grant that might not be funded.  Things to look for are whether the grant maker has a geographic, issue, or project focus.  It's also a good idea to look at who they've funded in the past, a list of their past grantees, and how much they've given to programs like yours. If it all matches up, you might be a good fit!

  • Details, Details, Details! Foundations want exactly what they ask for--no more, no less.  So, if they ask for a strategic plan, they'll be looking for your strategic plan when they review your application.  If they ask for a cash flow budget, don't send them a simple budget instead.  Getting together all the right documents in the right formats is just part of it, but it'll pay off in the end!

Good luck! Look for the second part of this grant writing FAQ next month. You can always email Jesslyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions!