10 Grant Writing Tips for Higher Education

If you are writing a grant, you probably already know that the business of getting funding is quite competitive. By observing the following 10 tips, you can maximize your chances of getting the funding your project so desperately needs:

1. Knowing Is Half the Battle

This is not just a slogan from an 80’s cartoon.  You truly do need to have a comprehensive understanding of what your organization has, what it needs, and more importantly, why it needs it, prior to your investing time and energy into a grant proposal. Additionally, make sure you know and adhere to the “rules of the road” as it relates to the grant application. The last thing you want to do is look like you didn’t read the instructions before applying. Doing the appropriate research on these matters will accomplish a substantial portion of your work in obtaining the grant.

2. Demystify Your Cause

There are times when we forget that other people have no idea what our acronyms stand for. Do your best to simplify parts of your institution or organization that outsiders might find confusing, by taking the extra step in order to explain what abbreviations and acronyms mean.  Assume your reader, and potentially the decision maker, has no clue who you are or what you do.

3. Organize, Organize, Organize

Make a conscious effort to organize your thoughts and align them with some hierarchy of the needs for which you are writing the grant. Use charts, maps, diagrams, and statistics liberally, so that you can emphasize your knowledge of the subject area, as well as for clarification and simplicity.

4. Be Original

Keeping in mind that there will likely always be a competition for a limited amount of funds, be unique in your writing style. Try not to default to language used in a previous application, and do not copy and paste any portion of the application. Draw attention to your idea and your project by making the narrative as original as possible, while still adhering to professional standards.

5. Seek Input

Don’t be afraid to ask other members of your team for their opinion as to the style and organization of your application. The saying “two heads are better than one” will guide you in this arena. No matter how experienced you are at writing for funding, you can always learn from the thoughts of your colleagues or teammates.

6. Incorporate Feedback and Edit

Good writing is edited writing, and edited writing is never completed, it is simply abandoned. The truth is, sometimes you have no choice but to move on because of a deadline, or another project that needs your attention. However, spend as much time as you can incorporating the feedback you asked for and hopefully received in your editing process.

7. Sit Back and Relax-Just Kidding-Edit Some More

You can’t relax until you’ve gotten the funding check in your hands. But, this would be a good time to make sure you’re using catchy headlines for different sections, and using peer-review as an editing tool. Make sure your thoughts are clear, and they convey the need in a way that seems legitimate, but not desperate.

8. Observe the 72-Hour Rule

Once you think you have a draft you are ready to send, the best thing you can do is put it down, and forget about it for 72 hours.  After that time has passed, pick it up and read it.  If it still leaves you satisfied, it is probably ready to send out.  If not…you guessed it… edit!

9. Don’t Procrastinate

As tempting as it may be, never wait until the last minute to send your application. Never ever use express mail to make sure the application gets there in time to meet the deadline. Express mail sends a message of desperation, and it is not flattering to your organization. If you’ve followed the tips above, you have been finished for at least 72 hours, and have plenty of time anyway!

10. Follow-Up

Don’t forget about the foundation once you get your hands on the check. They will expect to, and should receive progress reports, as to how you chose to spend the money they so graciously bestowed upon you, and whether or not it had the intended impact. Do everything you can to maintain the good will and reputation of your organization, and continue to capitalize on it when the next funding cycle comes around.

Need grant writing help? Call us for a consultation.

Computer screen of grant application

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Each week, our team of experts will put share their experiences, tips and viewpoints in all areas of higher education consulting, leadership, and fundraising. We're a team that consists of tenured individuals who have made it their life’s work to help solve some of the issues surrounding community colleges today. Some of our topics include:

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