Grant Writing: A First Timer’s Guide

A woman with headphones on working on grant writing at a desk

Grant writing is a creative and imaginative process where you can translate your ideas into real, impactful projects. To persuade reviewers to support you, you must present a well-written plan that advances your worthwhile cause and illustrates that you are responsible and capable of executing your plan. 

One Omaha can help you prepare for the grant writing process. Contact us to learn more!

Below are some essential tips for first-time grant writers: 

Follow directions

  • Read the parameters of the grant carefully. Does your group meet the eligibility requirements? 
  • Make sure to respond to all parts of a question. If there is an example given, follow the same format.

Establish credibility

  • Present yourself and your group as capable, knowledgeable, and forward-thinking. Be thorough and intentional in your application.
  • When appropriate, reference past accomplishments that illustrate your ability to succeed and your commitment to the project. 
  • Outline any partnerships established with similar organizations.

Explain your project

  • When writing a project proposal, state the project’s overall vision and how the grant funds will be used to accomplish this vision.
  • Clearly describe the need that your project will meet in the community and how it will make an impact.

For example 

Overall vision: Increase neighborhood interaction to promote teamwork and achieve community goals.

Project to accomplish the vision: Have a neighborhood picnic and invite all neighbors within a three-block radius.

How the grant funds will be used to accomplish the project: Grant funds will be used to purchase food and supplies to host 40 people at the picnic and print costs for flyers to promote the picnic.

How the project will meet community needs: The picnic will bring together neighbors who do not currently interact and introduce upcoming community initiatives in which all neighbors can get involved. 

Become a storyteller

  • Use clear, concise language; avoid jargon. Write short, easy-to-follow sentences. If you must use specific terminology, define what the word or phrase means. 
  • Tailor your language to address keywords in the grant proposal.
  • Tell your group’s story in a way that will inspire or move the reader. Think about how you can stand out from the crowd with your unique point of view or mission.
  • Instill positive emotions in the reader by focusing on solutions rather than problems in your application. 
  • Stick to the facts and don’t exaggerate. Use statistics to support your story.

Check your budget

  • Triple-check your math. Have others review your work to ensure accuracy. 
  • Prepare the budget as a direct fiscal translation of your project narrative. 
  • If the grant only covers part of your project, explain where the rest of your funding will come from. Illustrating buy-in from other funders can strengthen your application.

Don’t procrastinate

  • Do not wait until the last minute to prepare your application. Give yourself plenty of time to write, edit, and seek others’ input. 
  • Anticipate how much time the application process will take in addition to your regular work schedule, as well as your other commitments.

Details, details, details

  • Remember to include dates and times of events, the number of people involved in the project, and the overall timeline of your project.
  • Use a spell checker before submitting your application.
  • Before submission, double-check that you have all necessary items prepared, including documents, photos, forms, etc. 

This blog was written by Noelle Blood-Anderson, One Omaha communications manager.

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