Over the past couple of years, I have worked with a number of different grant writers, both as employees of Whitney Consulting and as co-consultants on bigger jobs. Every time I work with a new grant writer, I realise some things about the way I write grants that I hadn’t consciously been aware of previously. I have tried to keep a record of these realisations and add them into our staff training and onboarding processes but I also thought they would be of use to all grant writers. Because they are hints and tips for trained grant writers, they are not just about the grant writing essentials – you don’t necessarily have to do them to be successful. They will, however, improve your application out of sight. So here are a couple of them!

A piece of advice I often give is to ‘Answer the Question’. It is something that is often not done well and you will see a lot of funding bodies advising applicants to make sure they have answered the question asked.

However, if you want to produce an exceptional application (and that is what I need all my staff to do!) then it is not enough to simply answer the question. You need to consider how to make the project align to the grant program objectives as best as possible. And how to present your organisation as well as possible. This may mean making tweaks or slight changes to your project and your application. For example, you had intended for person A to manage the project but when you look at their background, they may not have a lot of project management experience. Consider changing your project manager to person B, who has a better resume for managing projects and will strengthen your application.

One way to strengthen your application in this way is to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Where are the weaknesses in the application and how can they be improved?
  2. If we aren’t successful with the application, what do I think the reason will be?                               Can I change that?

Usually, the funding for the grant program is part of a bigger picture. It may be government’s attempt to create jobs to help COVID recovery, for example. Or part of a push for more female entrepreneurs. Whatever the bigger picture is, if your project shows an alignment to that broader agenda, it has a much higher chance of being funded.

So think about the grant program and the funding body – why they are giving the money away, where the money has come from and why the grant program has been created. Try to link your project into what is trying to be achieved beyond just the grant program – show linkages where you can.

Hopefully these couple of points can help you to see how to take your grant from a good application to an exceptional one.

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