Grant Writing for Nonprofits: 5 Essential Tips to Secure Funding

  • By: Gina Guy
  • March 1, 2023
Nonprofit Grant Writing
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The most effective organizations follow these essential nonprofit grant writing tips to secure mission-critical funds.

In addition to money secured through creative fundraising ideas, nonprofits need grants to support their operations and programs. Grants provide a stable and predictable source of revenue that helps cover costs, implement new initiatives, and reach new audiences. 

Nonprofits face stiff competition when it comes to securing major grants, making the grant writing process critical. Boost your board’s effectiveness by following the grant writing best practices outlined below to maximize your chances of receiving funding.

What is Grant Writing?

Grant writing is preparing and submitting a proposal to a funding organization to secure funding for a specific project or program. As a complex and competitive process, a successful grant proposal requires strong writing skills, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of the funding organization’s priorities. 

Nonprofits may choose to hire a grant writer or allocate staff time to writing nonprofit grant proposals, as securing grant funding can be crucial to their ability to serve their communities and achieve their goals.

Why is Grant Writing Important?

Grants are essential for nonprofits because they are a primary source of funding for their programs and operations. In addition, earning a grant can increase a nonprofit’s visibility and credibility, helping it attract additional funding and support from other sources.

The grant writing process requires nonprofits to carefully consider their goals, objectives, and strategies and develop a detailed budget and timeline. Doing so can help nonprofits to better plan and prioritize their work. By providing a clear and compelling case for support, grant writing helps nonprofits demonstrate their work’s impact and hold themselves accountable for delivering results.

Failing to secure funding can have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on a nonprofit organization, its programs, and its ability to serve its constituents and achieve its mission. Without sufficient funding, nonprofits may be forced to reduce their programs’ scope or scale, or close programs altogether. In addition, nonprofits may have to lay off staff or reduce hours, which can impact the organization’s capacity to deliver programs and services. Lack of funds may harm the organization’s credibility and reputation, making it harder for the nonprofit to attract funding and support from other sources in the future.

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Elements of an Effective Grant Proposal

An effective grant proposal typically includes the following elements:

  • Title Page and Cover Letter: The grant proposal’s title page and cover letter give the funding organization a first impression of the nonprofit organization and its proposal. They should be well-written, professional, and aligned with the funding organization’s priorities and requirements.
  • Problem, Goals, and Objectives: The problem, goals, and objectives provide the foundation for the proposed project and help to ensure the project is focused and well-aligned with the funding organization’s priorities. They should be well-researched, clearly stated, and compelling, demonstrating a strong understanding of the problem your organization hopes to solve with the funds and a clear plan for addressing it.
  • Evaluation Plan: The evaluation plan provides the funding organization with a clear understanding of how the project will be monitored and assessed, and how the nonprofit organization will measure the outcome. A strong evaluation plan demonstrates that the nonprofit organization is committed to transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement.
  • Budget: A well-prepared budget demonstrates the project’s financial viability and helps the funding organization to understand how the nonprofit organization will use the requested funds. An accurate, transparent, and well-justified budget helps to build trust with the funding organization and increases the chances of securing funding.

Tips to Secure Funding

Securing grant funding can be a competitive and challenging process, but the following tips help increase the chance of success.

1. Tell a Good Story

Telling a compelling and persuasive story can be an effective way to secure grant funding and achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. 

A well-told story can help the funding organization understand the project’s significance and the impact it will have. It can also help to build trust and create an emotional connection with the funder. When telling your nonprofit’s story, describe first-hand, authentic experiences, so funders can clearly see how their grants make a difference through your organization.

2. Be Concise

Being concise, while including all the required application materials, is important when seeking to secure grant funding, because funding organizations receive many grant proposals and may only have a limited time to review each.

To increase their chances of securing funding, nonprofits should create a grant proposal that is easy to read, well-organized, and focused on the most critical aspects of the project.

3. Target a Specific Project

Grant organizations want to know exactly how their funds will be used and that they’ll make a measurable impact. Targeting a specific project can help secure grant funding by demonstrating a clear and focused plan for how the funding will be used.

4. Focus on Solving a Problem

Focusing on solving a specific problem can be an effective way to secure grant funding because it demonstrates that the organization is committed to addressing a pressing need in the community and making a positive impact.

By focusing on solving a specific problem, the organization can provide more detail, including the budget, timeline, and evaluation plan.

5. Hire a Grant Writer

Writing an effective grant proposal requires your board’s time, attention, and grant writing know-how. However, busy nonprofit boards may not have what it takes to organize and strategize the grant writing process.

Such boards can leverage the skills of a reliable grant writing consultant to streamline the process. A consultant helps you source high-value grant opportunities and create persuasive proposals.

How Board Management Software Helps

Board management software can help improve fundraising efforts by providing tools and resources that make it easier for the board and nonprofit treasurer to manage the fundraising process and increase efficiency. Secure in-app messaging helps fundraising boards coordinate efforts. Proposal and grant materials can be easily and securely stored within the platform, where they’re accessible to all board members. In addition, smart tools like meeting analytics and automated meeting briefs bring a new level of intelligence to board work to increase engagement and clarify priorities.

Master Board Fundraising With OnBoard

Grants play a crucial role in enabling nonprofits to serve their communities and achieve their goals. They also help nonprofits increase their visibility, credibility, and legitimacy, leading to more funding opportunities and support from stakeholders.

OnBoard can help with fundraising efforts by streamlining and organizing communication, decision-making, and information-sharing among board members.

Fundraising and grant writing requires effective planning and coordination. Download our free board meeting agenda template to keep your board meetings on track. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What Does a Nonprofit Grant Writer Do?

    A nonprofit grant writer is responsible for researching, writing, and submitting grant proposals to foundations, corporations, and government agencies.

  • Is There a Demand for Grant Writers?

    Yes, there is a demand for grant writers. However, the demand for grant writers can vary depending on the state of the economy, the level of funding available, and the level of competition for grants.

  • How Many Hours Does it Take to Write a Grant?

    The amount of time it takes to write a grant varies depending on several factors, such as the project complexity, the size of the grant being sought, the grant maker's guidelines and requirements, and the grant writer's experience and efficiency.

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About The Author

Gina Guy
Gina Guy
Gina Guy is an implementation consultant who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations get the most from their board meetings. She loves helping customers ease their workloads through their use of OnBoard. A Purdue University graduate, Gina enjoys refinishing furniture, running, kayaking, and traveling in her spare time. She lives in Monticello, Indiana, with her husband.