Whether you are thinking about starting a small business or you want to continue your education, you may be thinking about applying for a grant. Grants are funds that are provided by the federal, state, and local governments, as well as non-profit and for-profit organizations, such as universities and hospitals. Grant money is free money, meaning that it does not have to be repaid. There are grants available for a wide-range of purposes, including continuing education, scientific research, and a variety of other reasons.

In order to receive grant funding, you must meet stringent eligibility requirements. Applicants need to fill out an application that illustrates they are, in fact, eligible for funding. For many grants, applicants must also provide a written proposal. A proposal allows those agencies that issue grant funding to fully see an applicant’s need for funding. Additionally, proposals allow agencies to see exactly how the funding will be used, if it is awarded, as well as how much money should be awarded to applicants.

Top grant writing tips

Writing a grant proposal may seem like an overwhelming task. You want to ensure that you are providing a clearly written document that will demonstrate your needs and illustrate why you are the best candidate for grant money. Proposals that aren’t well written and do not clearly demonstrate the need for grant funding are likely to be rejected. Don’t let the fear of rejection should not prevent you from completing a proposal and applying for grant funding. To help you improve your chances of being approved for the grant you are applying for, we have put together some tips that you can use to help draft your proposal to the organization that you are applying to.

1. Start Early

First and foremost, it’s important that you start drafting your proposal as early as possible. This is especially true if there is a deadline for your proposal (with most grants, there usually is a deadline). The earlier you start, the earlier you will finish. The sooner you finish your proposal, the sooner you will be able to send it in. This not only helps you avoid the possibility of missing the deadline, but it also assures that your proposal is seen sooner rather than later. Often, grant agencies tend to overlook proposals that are received at the last minute. In other words, by getting your proposal in as soon as possible, you may be able to improve your chances of securing the funding you are attempting to receive.

2. Adhere to the Directions

Make sure you take the time to thoroughly read the directions that are provided with the grant you are applying for. If you fail to follow the directions, it’s almost certain that your proposal will be rejected. Not following directions is a red flag to issuing agencies. Make sure you thoroughly read through the request for proposals and that you find out exactly what type of stipulations are in place and ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements before you begin drafting your proposal.

Make sure that you take the time to carefully read through all of the questions and that you respond directly to every part of each question. Be clear and concise. Review your proposal with a fine-tooth comb; check for any errors and make sure that you correct any mistakes.

3. Define Your Need

One of the primary purposes of a grant proposal is to clearly define your need for the funding that you are attempting to secure. Make sure that you are as specific as possible. Illustrate exactly why you are in need of the funding and how you will use the funding, should you receive it. Demonstrate with clear examples. Showcase any accomplishments that will certify your credentials. Organizations that issue grants are very selective; they want to ensure that they are choosing the best applicants; individuals who truly need the funding and who will use it appropriately.

Clearly defining your need in your proposal letter will demonstrate to the organization that you are, in fact, the best candidate for the grant funding that they provide. 

4. Share Your Story

A story can be a helpful way to illustrate to those who are evaluating your proposal the need that you have defined. It can also help evaluators gain a better understanding of any difficulties that the project you are intending to use the funding for may face, as well as the benefits that your project will provide.

For example, if you are seeking to secure a small business grant, share stories that demonstrate the benefits that your business will provide for the community. You can also share stories that illustrate the hardships that other entrepreneurs have attempted to open up a small business in the location you are planning on setting up shop. This information can help to paint a clearer picture of not only your need for the funding, but the communities need for the grant funding, as well.

5. Demonstrate Your Knowledge

Lastly, you want to make sure that you clearly demonstrate your knowledge in your proposal letter. You should define that you have full knowledge of the need for the project for the community that you are going to be working in, for example. By illustrating your knowledge, you will be able to show the organization that you are responsible and the best choice for the funds that they are offering.


When it comes to writing a proposal for grant funding, clearly demonstrating your need can help to set you apart from the crowd of other individuals that are vying for the same funding that you are trying to secure.

Take your time, be clear, follow directions, review (several times), and make sure that you clearly define your need for the grant funding that you are applying for. If you draft the perfect proposal letter, you can significantly increase your chances of being awarded the money that you need to conduct research, open a small business, start an organization, or do whatever else it is that you are intending on achieving.