How to Increase Your Chances of Being Awarded a Grant

What are your chances of being awarded a grant? On average, sources state that 1 in 10 applications are approved for funding. So, how can you increase your chances of winning a grant? Firstly, let’s focus on the most frequent reasons why funders reject grant proposals:

  • Funding sources don’t have enough funds to accept every request.
  • The request falls outside of the funder’s giving interests.
  • The applicant didn’t follow application guidelines.

They key takeaways from this information, tell us to:

  • Apply as early as you can to avoid the source running out of funds.
  • Ensure your grant proposal matches the funder’s giving interests.
  • Follow the application guidelines to the letter!

But did you know, there are more ways you can elevate your grant proposal? Below, we’re revealing the top ways you can increase the odds of winning a grant!


9 Tips to Help Secure Upcoming Funding Opportunities


1) Target Your Funders

There are many different types of funding sources, but which funding source is best for you? In 2017, respondents reported the most frequently cited sources of grant were awarded from:

Private foundations continue to be a funding source for most respondents. The majority of those surveyed reported that they received grants awards from private foundations. Although government grants are still “big money,” organizations should keep in mind that you have less than a 50% chance of winning.

Pro Tip: If your organization is small (budget under $1 million), new (in existence for less than five years), or has never received a grant larger than $45,000, smaller foundations will be your best funding source.


2) Submit at Least Three Grant Applications

Applying for at least three grants, increases the frequency of winning an award. The likelihood of being awarded a grant increases when more applications are submitted. Based on 2017 data collected from nonprofits in the USA, revealed submitting:

  • 1 Application: 63% of respondents won at least one grant.
  • 2 Applications: 75% of respondents won at least one grant.
  • 3 to 5 Applications: 89% of respondents won at least one grant.
  • 6 to 10 Applications: 96% of respondents won at least one grant.
  • 11 to 20 Applications: 98% of respondents won at least one grant.
  • 21 to 30 Applications: 99% of respondents won at least one grant.

By submitting three or more grant applications to various funders, you are more likely to receive at least one grant. So, don’t be afraid of your first rejection and take it as a learning curve to improve.


3: Don’t Rush the Research

Compiling a grant application takes time. Grant research and submission took more than three days per grant for 40% of grant seekers. Making a plan for the grant application and writing the grant took more than five days for 40%. This is an important process that you should not rush. After all, if a foundation is willing to fund your project, you can’t expect them to blindly award funds. Show facts!

You could also consider hiring a professional grant writer for help with the research, development, and overall polishing of your grant application. Grant writers have experience in writing winning grant applications for every federal grant-making agency.


4: Meet the Eligibility Requirements

If you apply for a grant that has strict eligibility requirements, and your organization doesn’t meet them, your application will not receive funding. Sometimes, it’s tempting to think that the funder might bend their eligibility requirements after they read about the great work of your organization. The reality is, most funders receive so many grant applications, they actively look for reasons to eliminate applications from consideration. If your application does not pass the check for basic eligibility requirements, it won’t be read. One simple piece of advice we often give is, “if you don’t qualify, don’t apply.”


5: Submit a Compliant Proposal

A grant application has two parts, the substantive content and the packaging of the application (which includes formatting). Both parts must adhere to the funder’s guidelines to be compliant. 

  1. A funder’s application guidelines will usually tell you how to structure the proposal. This includes major headings as well as topic components.
  2. On the packaging side, did the funder say to submit a 14-page proposal with 11-pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, and 1-inch margins, on letter size (8 1/2 x 11 inch) paper? Did you submit a proposal that met all of these requirements? If you haven’t formatted your proposal correctly, it will be obvious to the funder that you have not followed the submission guidelines.

If you haven’t followed the directions, you should assume the funder will not read your proposal. Formatting checklists come in handy for this kind of cross-check. Another area where applications can fail is with the submission guidelines.


6: Be Coherent and Readable

If you submit a poorly written proposal, your application will be unlikely to receive funding for two reasons:

  1. First, the funder may not be able to figure out what you are proposing to do or how you intend to do it.
  2. And second, a poorly written proposal can suggest that the thinking behind the proposal may not be clear, something that may make the funder question whether your proposal would be a good investment.

Even if you have met all of the application guidelines, your application may not make the shortlist for further review if there are spelling and grammatical errors. If you do not have strong writing skills, or if you need to prepare a proposal in English and it is not your first language, it is essential to find an editor who can work with you to polish the text.


7: Don’t Submit a Generic Proposal

Submitting a proposal made up of text copied and pasted from other proposals is unlikely to be successful. While reusing some text from one proposal to the next is acceptable, keep in mind that the requirements and interests differ for each application. If you do not tailor each proposal, your proposals can sound generic and flat.

8: Prove You are Responsible with Money

Is your organization structurally and fiscally sound? Sometimes the best-written grant proposal can be rejected because the funder has serious questions about the organization’s capacity to carry out the scope of work described in the proposal. Funders will ask for previous tax returns and financial records, so ensure these are up to date and in compliance.


9: Know Your Strengths

Are you seeking general operating or start-up funding? These types of grants are generally tougher to get than program funding. Grant proposals have a greater chance of being awarded if they can offer a compelling solution to a well-documented community problem.  It’s important to remember that grants are a primary resource to help your organization help the community – not typically to help you stay afloat or get off the ground. Ensure you have an activity, service, project, or program that will benefit others.


Where to Start Your Grant Journey:

Free grant resources are available online to help with grant applications. You can view sample grants, funding documents, grant application toolkits, and find legal support to help you get started. It’s important to learn the glossary of funding terms, especially LOI (letter of intent) and RFP (request for proposal, aka the application).

When locating funding opportunities, GrantWatch.com is the leading grant search engine and database. Discover grants currently available for nonprofits, small businesses (for-profits), as well as individuals.

Good luck with your grant application, and we hope these tips can help increase your chances of being awarded a grant!

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