Tips for Applying for Grants

Confident you're ready to begin applying for grants? How exciting! As you begin the process of identifying the grant(s) you want to pursue and writing your grant application(s), keep the following top tips in mind.

  1. Make sure your project is an appropriate fit for the grant you plan to apply to before you submit an application. To do this, learn as much as you can about the program you are considering by thoroughly reviewing the RFP/grant guidelines, communicating with the program contact, reading about the program on the official website, and reading about projects the program has previously funded.
  2. Each proposal you submit should be unique: each application should respond directly to the specifications of the grant guidelines using detailed information about your local needs and resources.
  3. Be sure to follow any and all directions the funder gives!
  4. Provide the funder with the information requested by the RFP/grant guidelines in the order it is requested. This makes it easier for reviewers to identify where and how you have responded to each of the grant criteria.
  5. Don’t bother trying to tell a story or relating your vision —stay focused on the problem and how you plan to solve it!
  6. Strive to use language any reader—regardless of whether he/she works in your field—can understand. Define any acronyms and/or field-specific terms that are used in your narrative at least once.
  7. Provide evidence of a local need for the project! Use state and national statistics only for comparison purposes.
  8. Always discuss relevant local, state, and federal standards and/or mandates in terms of how you are currently unable to meet them, why, how your proposed project will change that, and to what degree.
  9. Discuss measurable outcomes, in addition to your goals and objectives, that are clearly linked to your stated needs and proposed project activities.
  10. Make sure your partners are active partners, rather than partners in name only. Any letters of support should demonstrate commitment to the project by explaining how the partner will contribute to the project.
  11. Have someone who has not worked on the narrative read it over to help you ensure clarity before you finalize it.
  12. Be sure items requested in your budget are discussed in your narrative and are clearly linked to addressing the needs you have discussed and realizing your stated outcomes.
  13. Always include a budget narrative that illustrates how you calculated each number contributing to your budget total and provides adequate justification for each line item.
  14. Your application should include only documents specifically requested by the funder. Any additional information will almost certainly not be read.
  15. Get reviewers comments for all government proposals you submit and any foundation proposals willing to provide the information. Use that feedback to prepare future proposals. Visit for information on how to request reviewer scores and comments for your federal grant proposals through the Freedom of Information Act.
  16. Keep the numbers in mind: many, many grant programs now fund just 5-10% of applications submitted. Obtaining funding takes time, and chances are you will have to submit more grants than you will win. Don't let yourself get discouraged. Keep refining your project design and submitting applications, and you will achieve your funding goals.