9 Tips to Increase Your Odds of Being Awarded Grant Funding

Want to know your chances of being awarded grant funding? It’s a common question. On average, sources estimate that 1 in 7 applications are approved. So, how can you increase your odds of winning a grant? GrantWatch has the answers you need. The database houses thousands of current grants and offers many search features, all geared to accomplish one thing: to help you improve your rate of success. Your application is sure to be be a slam dunk. After all, your success is our success too!

Common Reasons for Rejection and Key Takeaways

The most common reason for rejection may be that the request does not align with the funder’s donation parameters and interests. Alternatively, perhaps the applicant didn’t follow the application guidelines and requirements, preventing the grant proposal from being considered. And finally, even if potentially eligible, the funding source might have had other funding priorities at the time the request was made.

There are some key takeaways to help you succeed. First, don’t waste time applying from funders who don’t share your mission or vision. Next, follow the application guidelines and requirements, to the letter! It’s unfortunate how many applications are discarded because of technical errors. Finally, apply as early as possible so your proposal is given priority and ultimately awarded grant funding.

As a bonus, GrantWatch has 9 tips to help to get your grant proposal to the top of the list of proposals being considered. Below are some great tips that might increase your odds of winning grant funding.

9 Tips to Help Secure Funding Opportunities


1) Target Your Funders

Which funding source is best for you? There are several types of grant funders located on GrantWatch and each one has current grants:

Private foundations continue to be the most likely funding sources for most respondents. Although government grants are still “big money,” organizations should keep in mind you likely have less than a 50% chance of winning a grant.

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 sources.


2) Submit at Least Three Grant Applications

The more applications you submit, the greater the likelihood of being awarded grant funding. Applying for at least three grant applications increases the frequency of winning an award to 89%! Data collected from U.S. nonprofits revealed the following results when submitting grant fund applications:

  • 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.

You can see that submitting three or more grant applications to various funders is the ‘magic number’ if you want success when applying for grants. So don’t be afraid of your first rejection; instead, use it as part of your ‘learning curve’ to help you improve your likelihood of success the next time!


3) Don’t Rush the Research

Compiling a grant application takes time. On average, grant research and writing of a grant usually takes more than five days per grant for most grant seekers. Make a plan. 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 you funds. You need to show them the facts and give them your narrative.

You might 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 a wide variety of grants, including state and local governments, foundation and corporate grant opportunities, individual contracts and all federal grant-making agencies.


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 the funding it requests. 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’re more likely to look for reasons to eliminate an application from consideration. If your application does not pass the check for basic eligibility requirements, IT WON’T BE READ! One simple piece of advice, “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 (including 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, for example, did the funder say to “submit a 14-page proposal with 11-pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, with 1-inch margins, on letter size (8 1/2 x 11 inch) paper?” Did the proposal you submitted meet all of these requirements? Incorrect formatting of your proposal will be a sure sign to the funder that you haven’t followed their submission guidelines.

If you don’t follow the directions, you can bet the funder will not read your proposal. Formatting checklists come in handy for this kind of cross-check.


6) Make Sure Your Proposal is Coherent and Readable

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

  1. The funder may not be able to figure out what the goal is that you’re proposing to achieve or how you intend to accomplish that goal.
  2. A poorly written proposal will likely be unclear in its objectives and is 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 ‘short list’ for further review if there are spelling or grammar errors. If you don’t have strong writing skills, or if you need to prepare a proposal in a language in which you have little or no familiarity, it is essential to find an editor who can work with you to polish the text to make it as clear as possible.

7) Don’t Submit a ‘Generic’ Proposal

Submitting a proposal only made up of text copied and pasted from other proposals is unlikely to be successful being awarded. While re-using text in more than one proposal can be acceptable, keep in mind that the requirements and interests differ for each application. If you don’t tailor each proposal to meet those requirements, your proposal will not be appealing for the potential grant funder to consider.

8) Prove You are Responsible with Money

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


9) Know Your Strengths

Are you seeking general operating or start-up funding? As opposed to program funding, these types of grants are generally tougher to secure. Grant proposals have a greater chance of success if they offer a compelling solution to a well-documented community problem. Remember, organizations typically use awarded grant funds to provide needed resources to help their community, not to keep the organization itself afloat or get it off the ground. Make sure you have an activity, service, project, or program goal in mind intended to benefit others.


The Bottom Line:

The ultimate goal of any organization is to succeed, and succeed well matter. It doesn’t whether it’s a business venture, a nonprofit program, or a personal project. GrantWatch is here for the assist, providing you with the tools and resources you need to make your funding goals nothing but net!

About GrantWatch

With close to 8,000 grants currently available, GrantWatch.com is the leading grant listing directory. Upgrade to a MemberPlus+ subscription to view the full grant details, including eligibility criteria and application information. For more information, you can also visit the GrantWatch FAQ page. To see the great value of all 20 of the top GrantWatch features, click here. See the latest episode of GrantTalk, powered by GrantWatch, with host Libby Hikind. You don’t want to miss this. Visit us on YouTube weekly. One more thing, don’t forget to get your copy of The Queen of Grants: From Teacher to Grant Writer to CEO, by Libby Hikind.

Please Note: There is no guarantee of grant awards as a result of this information.

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