Steps to successful grant-writing

Oct 21


Charlotte Francis

Charlotte Francis

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How do you set about writing a punchy, compelling grant or funding application? What essential information do you need to provide? In this article, I set out nine easy steps to help you write successful grants and proposals.


A grant proposal (or funding application) is a narrative description of the work a charity or not-for-profit organisation intends to carry out to fulfil its own goals and those of the funder or grant-maker.

The four basic questions you need to ask yourself when preparing a grant proposal document are:

WHAT – What is the problem you are seeking to address?

HOW – How do you plan to address the problem?

HOW MUCH – What is the budget?

WHY – What results (outcomes) will you achieve,Steps to successful grant-writing Articles whom will benefit and what will change as a result of the project?


Once you have done your research and found out which organisations are likely to support your area of work, carefully check their application criteria and deadlines. Some organisations, for example, only fund specific project costs and not core or organisational costs. Others exclude buildings and capital appeals from their funding criteria. Different organisations have different application forms – some only available online – so check before you start out. You will also need to make sure you can provide all the necessary additional documents required. These range from an organisation’s Constitution to their annual accounts. Lastly, before you pick up a pen and write, check the application deadline and make sure you have the time and resources to meet that deadline.


9 Key steps to help you write a successful grant proposal

Your job is to write a convincing and well-argued case for funding. There are 9 key steps to this process:

  1. Avoid flowery language but do make your case compelling. Use the active voice as much as possible and write from the viewpoint of the ‘audience’ (funder), telling them what they need to know. Address the community need and not the needs of your organisation
  2. State the project need/problem and explain the context. Back up your case with statistics and figures (stating your sources) as appropriate, and where urgent, stress the urgency.
  3. Illustrate how you are going to solve the problem – explain the project design – and why your organisation is the best one for the task.
  4. Set out your goals, objectives and timeline (this is important as they need to be able to see you have a coherent and realistic strategy)
  5. Give details of any community and other partnerships. Have you consulted the community – can you demonstrate collaborative work?
  6. Budget – set out a clear budget showing your fundraising target with different costs itemised. Where appropriate include columns showing income, expenditure and money so far raised
  7. Evaluation and Monitoring – do you a way of measuring the success of your project – perhaps feedback and survey forms or on-ground monitoring?
  8. Background to your organisation – show your organisation as a professional organisation with an exemplary track record in financial management and project delivery. Outline the organisation’s management structure and governance processes. Highlight recent achievements
  9. Financial sustainability – show that you have long-term strategies in place to continue the funding of this project beyond the initial funding period.  


Before you submit your application, make sure that you have understand the funder’s reporting requirements for recipients of a grant.  Ensure you have the processes in place to track expenditure against outcomes so you can report on progress.  If your project fails to adhere to the planned timeline and there are delays, keep the funder informed.

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