6 Tips to Make Your Grant Application Competitive 

Posted by Ayanna Rutherford on 21.10.2020

group of cyclist

Grants can be a huge benefit to nonprofit organizations. They can help build capacity and expand programs and services. The grant application process can be challenging and daunting but also rewarding for organizations. Here are six tips to help you navigate the grant application process.

Understand the process

Understanding the application process for the grant you are applying for is one of the most important parts of applying for grants. Funders want to ensure that you will be a good steward of their funds and exhibiting that you can follow directions is a great starting point.

Attend technical assistance meetings

Funders will host technical assistance meetings where you can learn more about any nuances that may not be explained in the request for proposals. Even if attendance is optional, you or someone on your team should attend those meetings.

Technical assistance meetings can help your organization create a line of communication with the funder. If done correctly you can develop strong relationships with the funder and maybe even find an advocate for your organization.

Make sure the funder wants you to communicate with them

While some funders offer support and have open communication with applicants, others do not want you to contact them throughout this process at all. In some cases, organizations can be disqualified for making contact with the funder, so please make sure you read and understand how the funder wants you to interact with them throughout the process.   One wrong move can negatively impact your organization’s chances for funding.

Try to submit early

One of the greatest challenges of working in a nonprofit is wearing multiple hats. So many of you have a lot to do but not enough hours in the day which is why it is important to give yourself time to apply for funding. In most cases submitting early does not give you a competitive edge but it can help you if you happen to make a mistake on your application. Some funders will notify you if you are missing sections or supporting documents if you submit your application early enough. This can be very helpful in ensuring that your application is still in the running. Submitting early also takes some of the stress off of you and your team. Once it is submitted and confirmed you can move on to your next grant!

Take rejection in stride

There is nothing more disappointing than receiving a rejection letter after you put your time and effort into a grant. Your immediate response may be to reach out to the funder and give them a piece of your mind. One of the first steps you should take is to review the rejection letter to see if they have a process in place for applicants who were not funded. If there is a process, be patient, and follow it because this will lay the foundation for any future interactions with the funder. If there is not a process in place, be gracious, and ask for feedback on your application.

Request and accept feedback

A funder’s feedback is important and can help you when applying for funding for other grant opportunities. Requesting feedback is also a great way to begin building a relationship with the funder so when you apply in the future, they will be familiar with your organization and can set you up for success in the future. You may get a lot of rejection before you get funded but stay the course and stay positive!

Photo credit: Markus Spiske

Topics: Nonprofit, Networking, Grants