How to write successful grant applications

Follow this best practice checklist for your best chance at grant-writing success.
Colleagues collaborating around a computer

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.

Follow this best practice checklist for your best chance at success. 

Getting grant-ready

  • Key messages: do you have a set of clear key messages for your organisation? Think: what does your organisation do, how long have you been established, who, why and how are you helping? Collate all 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 needed? 
  • Reporting: decide how you will measure and report on success of any projects funded by the grant.
  • Relationships: 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.

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 any doubt at all, 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.

After submission

  • Keep track of your application, including what you pitched, the funder details and when the funding announcement is due.
  • If you have GEM Portal, keep track of any relationships in here. If you would like to find out more about this tool contact Strategic Grants.
  • Follow this checklist the next time you write an application.

Find more low-cost or free resources from the team at Strategic Grants to help with all aspects of your grants go-getting.