How to find and write successful grant applications

Follow this best-practice checklist to maximise your chances at grant-writing success.
How to find and write successful grant applications

Successful grant applications can be a major source of funding to support delivery of your organisation’s mission. But if you have limited experience in writing grants, it can seem overwhelming. This best-practice checklist will help.

1. Getting grant-ready 

  • Key messages: do you have a set of clear key messages for your organisation? Consider what your organisation does, how long it’s been established, who, why and how it’s helping. Collate this information into a shared document to ensure everyone in your organisation is communicating the same messages.
  • Digital presence: does your organisation have a strong online presence? This can include a website, or any social media pages your organisation has. Make sure your pages are up-to-date as any potential funders are likely to Google your organisation.
  • Future priorities: does your organisation have clear strategies or future priorities? This could be in the form of a strategic plan or business plan. If not, be clear on your year-to-year goals.
  • Wish list: is there a central wish list of all the projects, equipment or activities that require funding? These should include accurate budgets on how much funding you need to deliver each project.
  • Robust project plans: do you have well-thought-out project plans that demonstrate why the project(s) is/are needed? 
  • Reporting: decide how you will measure and report on success of any projects funded by the grant.
  • Relationships: explore the relationships your board and staff have with important stakeholders in your community (for example: prior funders, corporate partners, philanthropists, trusts & foundations). As much as possible, reach out to the funder beforehand and keep the line of communication open throughout the grants process and after – relationships go a long way towards securing funds.

2. Tools to help find and manage grant opportunities

There are a range of resources and websites available to help you find funding opportunities that align to your organisation.

  • GEM Local – a low-cost managed grants directory specially designed for small community not-for-profits with specalised grant training and checklists. 
  • GEM Portal – a complete grant expertise management system that incorporates the grant directory, calendar and relationship-tracking features. Additionally, Strategic Grants hosts regular grant webinars and training resources for GEM users.
  • Our community funding centre – a not-for-profit-specific database to find grants, with tools and resources to help you succeed. 
  • Grant Finder and Grant Connect – these are Australian government-run directories to help all organisations find local, state and federal funding opportunities.
  • Reach out to your local government departments who fund your type of work and philanthropic trusts, Philanthropy Australia may be able to help you further.

3. Writing your grant application

Before you put pen to paper, ensure that your organisation or project is eligible and the project fulfils the funding round objectives. If in doubt, contact the funder.  

  • Make sure you have capacity to deliver the project.
  • Make sure you talk the funder’s language. Read their criteria carefully and use their keywords in your application.
  • Read the questions carefully and answer them. It sounds simple, but it's easy to get sidetracked, especially when you’re passionate about the cause. Funders are often reviewing hundreds of applications at a time, so be as clear and concise as you can to increase the chances of your application being put in the ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ pile.
  • Ensure that the ask is at the front of the application and that it focuses on the people being helped – not the organisation itself. Remember: people give to people. 
  • Tell them how your project addresses their criteria within the responses.
  • Include any evidence or results you’ve seen already
  • Have someone who writes well put the application together or at least have them review it.
  • Have someone thoroughly proofread your application.

4. After submission

Keep track of your application, including what you pitched, the funder details and when the funding announcement is due.

Follow this checklist the next time you write an application.

Find more low-cost or free resources to help with all aspects of your grants go-getting.

Read next

Google Ad Grants for not-for-profits

Rate this guide

No votes yet

Status message

Thanks for rating this guide.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.