Tips for grant writing

Writing a good grant application is an important skill. Many organisations don’t have dedicated grant writers and often don’t have much free time.

Here are 10 ways to quickly boost your grant writing skills – this information is general and these skills may help you with any grants processes your organisation might be involved with:

1. Make sure you are eligible

Before spending time writing a grant application, check you are eligible.

Read the grant application documents to check:

  • The funding is for the place where you work
  • The funding is for activities you provide
  • You will be able to do the things the funder is asking for, in the time the funder wants them
  • You satisfy any other basic requirements such as having the right legal structure

(For example, if applying for an ILC grant, you will want to first review the ILC Policy, the ILC Commissioning Framework and the Program Guidelines).

Don’t try to change or compromise your organisation’s activity just to meet the grant criteria.

2. Build credibility

To set yourself apart from other organisations, make your story brief and clear:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What do you do?
  • Who do you impact?
  • How? (The storybuilder can help you do this.)

List the work you have done in the past and explain how it has changed people’s lives.

Include any evidence, including research that proves that what you do works.

3. State your challenge clearly and highlight evidence

Clearly describe the challenge or social problem you are working to address. Provide quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Quantitative evidence may include the numbers of people you have supported and the survey results about the changes they have experienced.

Qualitative evidence might be a series of case studies or stories about the people you’ve supported in your work.

4. Get straight to the point

Be clear and concise from the start about your specific goals and organisational objectives. Many grant applications have word limits. There is skill in describing what you do in a limited number of words. It takes practice. The questions in grant applications also link to the assessment criteria, so make sure you answer the question that is asked.

Describe:

  • how you plan, develop, deliver, manage and monitor your activities.
  • the activities you are offering, how these are going to be delivered, to whom and how often.
  • your desired outcomes.
  • your governance arrangements (to show that you have good management practices in place to oversee the work that you do).

5. Link to the community

Be very clear about what your end goal is. Who are you here to help?

You need to clearly communicate who your stakeholders in the community are and how you work with them. Explain how people with disability have been involved in developing your application. 

You also need to describe how you design and deliver your services with the stakeholders in mind. How connected are you to the community you support? Are your stakeholders, including people with disability, involved in defining or helping you improve your activities? Do you work with or have relationships with other organisations within your community to create wrap around or complementary services and resources?

The grant maker is always interested in understanding how you engage with those you work with and those you assist in the community.

6. Sing your own praises

It is important that you can demonstrate your organisation’s capability and capacity to do what you have outlined in your application.

  • What experience and qualifications do your staff have to deliver your activities?
  • What qualifications, expertise and skills do your executive team have to drive the organisation and oversee the delivery of your activities?
  • How experienced is your organisation in the field you are working in?
  • How efficient and effective have you been in the past?

Assessors will also be interested in learning about how your organisation ‘learns’ over time - that is, how you review and assess your activities today so they can be continuously improved for tomorrow.

7. Do the maths

One of the important things you are going to have to think about is cost.

How much does it cost to run the activity you offer? What are all the things that make up your overall spend?  You will typically need to include a budget plan including this information.

The assessor will be looking to see that thought has gone into your budget plan, so think about all of your capital and operational costs. Write them down. Make sure you include everything you need that is required to deliver your activities.

Learn more: Costing your project

8. Take a compliment

What better way to support your grant application than to ask individuals or organisations in the community that you work with to write a letter of recommendation? An external testimonial is a great way for the grant maker to understand the nature of your activity and the influence it has from the perspective of an ‘end user’. It makes the work that you do come alive.

9. Review, review, review…

Make sure you have followed the grant guidelines closely so nothing is missing when you submit your expression of interest and/or full application. Often it’s the small things that slip past unnoticed. Did you need to submit a cover letter? Have you been clear about ‘telling your story’? Have you been clear about the challenge you are addressing, the activities you offer, the community you are positively impacting and the sustainable outcomes that you are aiming to achieve? Have you checked your financial information?

Consider getting someone to read over your application to see if your explanation about the work you do and the supporting information you have included is clear. Reflect. Revise if required. And then get ready to press submit, knowing that you have dotted the i's and crossed the t’s.

10. Keep your eye on the date

Deadlines can creep up on you quickly. Be proactive by preparing your applications well in advance. Make sure you have lots of time to consider your content, find the information that you need and then write a comprehensive application. Grant makers will be looking for quality not quantity, and clear and concise information that proves the value of the activities you provide. Be sure to submit your applications on time. You’d be surprised how many people overshoot the deadline and are disappointed that they miss out on the grants round.