Grant Writing: How to write winning grants

Lady grant writing on her laptop. Article written by Coaching by Tamu. Tamu Browne.


Before you get started on your grant writing, you should know what a grant is. Simply put, it’s when the government gives money to people or organizations that they think are doing something good. There are many different types of grants out there and each one has its own requirements and process for applying, but the first step is always the same: write a winning proposal. This blog post will give you tips on how to do just that!

Do your homework before writing the grant

Before you begin writing the grant, it is important to research the funder. The best place to start your research is on the Internet. Many funders have websites that contain information about their mission and their grant programs, as well as news about their funding priorities and objectives.

If you have not been able to find information about the funder on its website, try searching other sources such as Google (, Yahoo! ( and Bing ( If you are still unable to find what you need online, try contacting someone at your organization who has experience applying for grants or asking them where they obtained their information when they last applied for a grant with this funder—this may help lead you towards resources where they obtained this type of information in the past (such as an email exchange with an employee at a foundation). Purdue Writing Lab’s website shares some excellent tips about due diligence.

Choose the right funder

Before you begin to write your grant, it’s important to choose the right funder. The first step is to conduct research into several potential funders in order to determine which ones would be most appropriate for your organization and its mission. The following are some key factors that will help you make this decision:

Eligibility criteria – Is the funder looking for a specific type of organization? Do they have any restrictions on who can apply?

Timeline – How long does the funding window last? Are there deadlines attached? If so, when do those deadlines occur?

Budget – Does this funder provide enough money to meet your needs or do they have limitations on how much grant funding may be awarded each year or over the lifetime of their program (or both).

Think of your organization’s image

In your grant proposal, you want to make sure that the image you present to the foundation is one that will be attractive. If you are an organization with a history of leadership, transparency and accountability, people will be more likely to trust in your ability to use grants wisely. On the other hand if your organization has had issues in the past with governance or financial management it will be necessary for you write in such a way as not to overstate accomplishments or show too much emotion when describing challenges faced by mission staff.

In general it’s best not to sound desperate or arrogant but rather humble and confident; this is especially true if your organization has recently experienced a decline in membership or funding sources so make sure not include any statements regarding how well things have been going lately because chances are they haven’t been going well at all!

Do not get too personal in grant writing

Don’t use first person pronouns (I, me, we).

Don’t include personal information.

Don’t include photos of yourself.

Don’t include a resume or other forms of self-promotion.

Do not include personal opinions or anecdotes.

Avoid jargon

Jargon is not a good way to impress the funder. Most funding organizations have their own jargon which can be confusing for applicants and even readers who are not familiar with it. Jargon can also make you sound like you are hiding something, or communicating in an overly professional manner that could make the reader feel like they aren’t important enough to understand what you are saying.

Use plain language wherever possible by describing concepts in terms that would be understood by an average person (like yourself). It’s okay to use “we” when referring to your organization instead of “you”, but don’t overdo it!

Keep it simple when grant writing

You shouldn’t use jargon or acronyms that your audience won’t understand. You also want to avoid using too many words in the first place, since that makes it harder for your reader to get through what you’ve written.

This holds true even when talking about complex issues or topics: simple language makes it easier for people of all educational levels to understand what you’re saying, so don’t be afraid of keeping things clear and straightforward!

Sticking to the rules makes a good impression

When you’re writing a grant, it is important to follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, it can make a bad impression on your organization and your funding agency.

There are several reasons why following the rules will help you write winning grants:

It shows that you are professional and consistent in all of your work. The people who read and evaluate your grant proposal will see that when they look at how well organized it is, how smooth it reads (or how easy-to-read it is), and how professional-looking each section looks.

By following the rules for formatting, submitting documents electronically in exactly the right format for each agency (and making sure those files come up properly), using only approved fonts and so on, anyone reading or evaluating your grant proposal will know immediately that this organization knows its business—or soon will! It could mean more than just getting funded; if an agency sees excellence like this early on in its relationship with another nonprofit organization (the one submitting this kind of application), then maybe other opportunities will open up later.

Get help from someone who understands grant writing

If you are new to grants, and it is your first time writing a grant, you may find this process overwhelming. There are multiple steps involved in successful grant writing and it can be difficult to know where to start. The best way to get started is by enlisting the help of someone who understands grants.

You want someone who has been there before, knows what works and what doesn’t work, and can guide you through the process from start to finish. If they don’t have experience with your type of project or organization (and an understanding of how that affects their ability to write a winning proposal), then it will take longer for them to learn how things work in your sector — which means that your chances for success drop significantly as well!

If you follow these tips, you will write a better grant application

Think about the problem you are trying to solve. What is it?

Make sure that your organization has a plan to solve the problem. What is this plan? How will it work? Why will it work?

Make sure that your organization has the resources available to implement this plan. What are these resources and how much money do they cost (if any)? Who will be responsible for making sure they are available when needed (and who will pay for them)? Sign up to our newsletter to receive funding opportunities for Caribbean entrepreneurs. Click here.


Grant writing is an art form, but it’s also a science. You have to be able to generate creative ideas and follow directions at the same time. In this guide, we walked you through the basics of how grants work, from finding potential funders to writing strong applications. We also shared some of our own tried-and-true tips for getting funded, like doing your homework before you apply and keeping a close eye out for deadlines. While these tips might not guarantee success in every case (grants are notoriously competitive), they can help increase your chances of getting awarded one over another applicant who didn’t do their due diligence or didn’t use data correctly. I have a previous grant post about writing grants targeted at black women. Click to read.