What is the Grant Writing Process? [in 8 Steps]
The grant writing process creates an application for approval of funds from government agencies, private foundations, corporations, or individuals. Funding doesn't happen overnight but requires the applicant to pass through a series of carefully taken steps.
We are here to discuss those steps together in one blog post so that it is easy for you to get grants for scholarships, research, and nonprofit projects.
Grant proposal writing may appear daunting at first; however, once you know the steps in the grant writing process and what to write in each phase of the process, it becomes persuasively manageable.
For the specific purpose of seeking grants, many organizations hire the services of professional grant writers as well. If you're interested in learning more via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
Whether you are a grant writer or not, these steps are common ground for applicants. Let's take a look at them.
In this first step, the applicant needs to know what they want from a grant. They need to be able to answer questions like: "What is their goal?" and "How will they achieve it?"
Once you identify your goals, it is time to figure out how much money you would require to accomplish them.
The next thing that needs to happen is how long it might take for those outcomes or milestones. This information helps funders decide if they should give money and help with budgeting requirements.
A good way for applicants who struggle with figuring out their goals is by making a list of questions that correlate with their needs and focus.
The goal in grant proposals can be something like: "The applicant's goal is to reduce youth crime by 50%." The applicants must then establish how they will measure results in tangible form. How long is it going to take to reduce the crime rate?
Once you have answered those questions, you can move to the next step of searching for prospective grants and funding organizations.
Step #2 is to search for funding sources and grants. Identify which ones best suit your needs.
Whether you are searching for government grants or private ones, you may use a couple of resources to pinpoint potential funding sources. Remember, a successful grant is waiting on the other side of an accomplished proposal.
Locating potential grantors can be time-consuming, but it will yield the most significant benefits in the long run. Even if you have an appealing research proposal in mind and send it to any institution without knowing what grants they give out, then your chances of receiving funding are slim.
An office like a university's office for research is usually available with libraries or resource centers containing information about grant-making agencies and their programs.
Internet is a world of opportunity only if you know where to look. You could use websites available, too, and try connecting with them virtually. Once you find prospective agencies, the first way is by creating a profile on each website that asks questions pertinent to what they are looking for to narrow down your search results.
In addition, these sites will ask about budget requirements and duration desired, so be sure to answer those as well when creating an online grant application - or else the site may not even show any results. If you win a grant, consider all the time and resources well spent.
The third method of finding grants is through databases such as Google Scholar. Depending on how specific the need is, there also might be different types of grant programs within one database.
If you're interested in honing the searching process in more detail and getting real-world experience with grant writing, then check out our grant writing certification course.
The audience of your proposal will determine what kind of information to include.
For example, if you are pitching a project for after-school programs in low-income neighborhoods and the intended audience is city officials and philanthropists, it would be most appropriate to focus on how this program can help those communities with an emphasis on economic growth and opportunity.
That is just one scenario. Likewise, you can have something else on your plate.
When you write a funding proposal, it should value time, and your tone should come across as serious with an appropriate amount of enthusiasm to make sure they stay interested.
Remember to stick to the granter's specific guidelines and mention what you have been asked for in your application. Keep their interest alive through your grant writing.
Know How Much to Request
The amount of funding is a critical point in the grant writing process. After the first, second, and third steps, it is time to decide on an appropriate figure to request from the granter, whether through budgeting or research. It depends on the skills of grant writers to convince the funders to support the proposed projects with grants.
Do some more number-crunching ahead of time to avoid any unpleasant surprises at any stage during the proposal development process.
How does one plan out their grants?
Find a trustworthy source with accurate information about the grant industry to give you an idea of how much money is appropriate for your project.
Research competitive grant funding opportunities, past winners, and give yourself an idea of where yours fits into this spectrum.
There you go, with two known methods to plan out budgeting for professional grant writing projects. You can share this data with your grant writers to make their journey manageable.
We are almost ready to get down to the actual writing part with an overview of the first few steps. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind.
- Brainstorm about what the organization does and how it will benefit from your project.
- Choose a font that is easy on the eyes, especially if you're working with text blocks of more than 500 words or so.
- Set up an attractive format for your professional grant proposals, avoid using jargon as much as possible
How you write your grant proposal tells a lot about you to reviewers. They get to judge you as a nonprofit, person, creative, or as a scholar with just your words. Allow your field of expertise to guide your writing approach; ensure your voice and personality reflect.
Remain professional and keep the tone of the application serious. Remember that the organization's objectives are critical to this grant writing process. As long as your project aligns with its goals and you can convince them of its viability with measurable results, it is only a matter of days before you get your grant.
Your grant application should have three sections: the introduction, body, and conclusion. This is a great time to keep in mind your audience; be organized enough so that their money can go the distance. Think of it as telling a story about what you are trying to do. Your complete application will include more paragraphs, such as the budget or timeline for completion. The key here is to remain succinct while conveying information clearly in each section.
Let's get to the standard sections, their names, and brief descriptions of every proposal. Keep your writing process to be as unique as possible.
A cover letter is a brief paragraph of the introduction. It should include your organization's name and contact information, project title, why this project is important to you, and what it will mean for the community. It is also called the 'Title Page'. You may utilize a cover letter template from a relevant grant application template.
This is the first paragraph in your grant proposals and should be concise. It includes a brief summary, what you will do in the project, why it's important to local residents or the world at large, any new technologies involved, and who else might benefit from this research. Some also refer to it as "executive summary."
Introduction or Statement of Need
Here you introduce yourself as well as summarize your topic for readers. The first few paragraphs set up your story: who are you? What do you want to accomplish that no one else can? Grant funding organizations will love to find out if your project is suitable enough to achieve parts of their mission.
This is a summary of the current knowledge on your topic. Your goal here is to briefly summarize what you've done and why it matters to demonstrate that you have thoroughly thought about this problem before proposing a solution.
The narrative is where the actual body of grant proposals begins. Think of it as the heart of each bid and focus on writing it as accurately and relevantly as possible.
The project narrative should include a detailed statement of the problem, research objectives or goals, hypotheses, methods, and procedures. The outcome should be all the details about the project, including evaluation and dissemination of your work.
Enhance your textual power by complementing it with visual data and social proof.
In the personnel section, list any people who will be involved in your research. You should also include a brief biography of each collaborator and their qualifications for working on this project.
The budget details how much money or resources you need to complete the project objectives. In addition to listing hard costs such as materials and services, evaluate the surprise costs as well. They may add to the entire budget in the course of project execution.
The timeline is where you list the beginning and end dates for your project. This also includes any milestones that are either tentative or already completed along with an explanation of what these mean.
References for Grant Proposals
In this section, please include all references from texts to people who influenced your work somehow. All sources must be cited appropriately so as not to mislead anyone.
Revision and Edits
Now that we are done with the writing part, it is time to review the entire grant application and see if it is as good as possible. This includes checking for grammar mistakes, typos, and any other errors that you might have made during the writing process.
The grant writing process is easy, given you follow the said guidelines. In this section, you have to get your proposal reviewed by experts in the field, such as asking a statistician to check your methodology section. As a grant writer, it is your job to seek feedback from specialists, readers from various fields. Their response will help you fill in the gaps and vouch for your proposal.
After revision and edits, it is time to submit your proposal for grant consideration.
Submit Your Grant Proposal
At this point, your application is strong enough to defend itself against questions of all sorts.
If you need additional assistance, such as help with a grant proposal template or general advice on the process, it is time to look for expert support.
It is also important that before submitting your application to review, edit it for grammar mistakes and sentence structure errors one more time.
The last step is to wait patiently for a response from your grant provider on whether they approve of your project or simply deny the proposition. Whatever the reason may be, fix it and resubmit it for approval.
Be prepared for the process, which takes patience and time.
Better hire a grant writer to keep the grant writing process as smooth as possible from the first step to the last step. If there are any inconsistencies in your proposal, it will get challenging to grab funds regardless of the legitimacy and worth of the proposed project.
The grant writing process is a long and tedious task, but it can reap big rewards.
Are you ready to dive into the grant writing process?
If you are new to grant writing and are looking to break-in, we recommend taking our Grant Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a grant writer, how to write proposals that win grants, and how to stand out as a grant writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.