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How to Write a Successful Grant

IT’S A FEEDING FRENZY OUT THERE! Scoring grant funds has never been more challenging with the saturation of organizations competing for the same pot of money, and with more stringent requirements being implemented by funders. However, by using frameworks to build a strong proposal, your organization can differentiate itself and establish a competitive edge over the competition.

I recently read an article titled, Before you Leap, Weighing the Benefits of Grants that was really on point regarding what grant funders are looking for in prospective organizations. Although it is a little dated, being written in 2011, it is still valid regarding what you should be cognizant of when pursuing grant dollars.

Below is a quick summary of the article…

First Things First

Grants are not intended to fill gaps. They are not the sole answer to any one project or program. Grants should be used as a supplemental piece to a larger, long-term plan.

Additionally, grants are not quick fixes to existing organizational deficiencies. In fact, the process of grant writing is not very fast and funding does not typically have a quick turnaround. If you are in a spot and need money now, you should definitely consider a more expedited resource to get the funds you need. With good planning and frameworks in place, any organization can effectively establish resources that can help with this…However, this is something we will write on at a later date!

Grant-Making is Entrepreneurial in Spirit

In today’s world, grantors want to invest in innovative concepts and projects that provide a clever and effective solution(s) to established problems. They also give merit to projects that establish platforms that are effectively replicable, setting the stage for growth and expansion.

Just like entrepreneurs identify a need and provide a solutions, nonprofits must do the same. Establishing an entrepreneurial spirit within your organizational culture has never been more important than it is today...For many reasons, even beyond securing grant dollars.

You Must Prove Impact

“There is an ever-greater demand that organizations prove that their project will have measurable impact.” I couldn’t agree more. It is imperative that proposals for funding provide more than anecdotal information and compelling stories, but rather, hard, fact-driven evidence that your project is worthwhile to be funded. It is your obligation to exhibit strong and concrete evidence your project is worthwhile.

Grant Project Administration

The party has only begun once you get funded. All grantees have to be prepared to effectively administer their project to A) ensure you do what you said you were going to do and B) comply with all reporting requirements of the grant-giving agency. Reporting and administration varies between funders. Government grants are inherently more demanding when it comes to reporting. Some grantors also allow grant applicants to allocate a portion of their project budget to pay for staff time or consultants to conduct required administrative activities.


That last thing funders want to see in a proposal is that the project will require multiple years of supplemental funding. Very few grantors will fund projects on a multi-year basis. The ones that do tend to be governmental grant-giving agencies who offer funding for very defined programs with a specific focus. These can be great opportunities, however, one should always ensure the program fits within your organizational mission. Furthermore, these programs will most likely require the intensive reporting requirements discussed above.


Funders like to see collaboration between potential grantees and other organizations. They do not like to see that you are proposing a project that potentially replicates programs and services of other organizations without there being any level of cooperation from other players. It is always a good idea, under any circumstances, to promote alliances between other agencies in the implementation of programs and services. This provides an opportunity for yours and other organizations to utilize each of your specific strengths, enhancing the approach to expanding impact throughout each of your respective service areas.


Very good tips and pointers provided throughout this article…So how do you proceed in writing strong proposals and make sure that you are attentive to all important and necessary components?

Caldwell Business Group has a passion for helping nonprofit organizations function with more of a business-like approach…To accomplish this we work with clients to help them establish frameworks and structures within their organization that promote organizational effectiveness and optimize delivery of services and programs. Frameworks can be utilized to ensure you are creating competitive grant proposals.

When a business seeks funding from banks or other investors, they are often required to present frameworks in the form of a business plan that outlines all aspects of their proposed endeavors. Writing a grant is no different…However in the nonprofit world the “business plan” is otherwise known as the “Case for Support.”

Catch our blog next week as we explain the elements of the Case for Support.

In the meantime, click HERE to gain access to a helpful tool CBG uses with its clients when we help them write grants…It is called the “Key Grant Components Checklist.” It is interactive and you may find it useful the next time you are preparing to score some cash!


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