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Grant Writing Basics

So, you just received your coveted 501c3 status from the IRS and now have a fully tax-exempt nonprofit organization under your belt. Congratulations! Even making it this far is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated.

Now that you are official, you’re on to the next step of your process: finding the capital needed to fund your mission. That is where fund development comes in.

Grant or proposal writing is only one core component of fund development for nonprofits. However, it is a component that requires excellent writing and communication skills, an analytical mind with a deep understanding of how to create and evaluate measurable data, and even accounting skills. Writing a grant proposal requires a lot of research along with multiple drafts until you write the one that communicates your idea just right.

If you’re in the process of writing the perfect grant proposal, here are some common elements that you should keep in mind while working on it.

1. Your Audience As a grant writer, you need to understand that the individuals reading and reviewing your request do not know about your nonprofit organization or you at all. Oftentimes, they may not even be knowledgeable about the industry you are working in. Therefore, you must provide as much background information as possible in a concise yet engaging way. Furthermore, it’s not enough to explain just how a grant award will help you with your mission; rather, it is critical that you also explain how a grant award will help the funder achieve their own mission as well.

2. Establishing authenticity The easiest way to establish authenticity is by presenting yourself and the organization as forward thinkers and talking about the previous projects you completed. Quantitatively and qualitatively explaining your success through statistics and personal testimonials will help them understand the work you do on a more intimate level. It will verify your success and show your commitment and ability to keep the momentum going.

3. Present your plan An effective way method of proposal writing is to divide your narrative into sections that show the rationale of the program model. Ensure to follow the instructions required by the agency’s call for grant proposals. Your writing should be direct and to the point with readable and easy-to-understand language. The most successful grant writers are the ones who can communicate complex ideas into simple and concise sentences.

What to avoid: At Boules Consulting, virtually all of our staff have sat on grant review panels, and some mistakes show up more than others. Some of these mistakes include insufficient budget details, missing vital project information, and over-using esoteric jargon in order to sound professional.

Most importantly, remember that grant writing is to serve your mission, not the other way around! Often times, nonprofits will write grant proposals to fit the funders mission. In the nonprofit management world, we call this “chasing after the money.” Rather, it is important that no matter what, you always ensure that your mission is what guides you in finding funding; if you do that, then you will be part of the 96% of nonprofits who are able to obtain at least one grant in a given year of consistent grant writing.


Are you interested in grant writing but don’t know where to start? Boules Consulting can help with that! With our month-to-month grant writing subscription plan, Boules Consulting can develop, write, and submit grants on your organization’s behalf every month that you can cancel any time. Just send us an email at info@boulesconsulting.org to get your free consulting assessment to see if our grant writing can help you get the funding you need, with plans starting as low as $1,000 a month!

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