Grant Seeking 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Winning Grants

Foundations and corporations award more than $85 million annually in charitable giving. That means there are a lot of grants out there, if you know where to look.

And not as many organizations are applying for grants as you might think, which means if you’ve found a grant for which you are a good fit, and you can convincingly show that you’ll steward the funds effectively, and you take the time to apply and write a strong application, you have a pretty good shot of getting the grant.

Read on for the keys to finding, applying for and managing grants that will help your organization get a piece of the grantmaking pie!

Step 1: Evaluate your organization and see if you’re ready to apply for grants

To check if your organization is grants-ready, you should first ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can you clearly articulate your mission, vision, and your impact on the population you serve?
  2. Do you have a solid financial history that will convince potential grantors you’ll be a good steward of their funds?
  3. Do you have adequate staff and time to devote to grant applications?
  4. Do you have a project or program for which you can clearly and convincingly articulate your need for funds?

Read Grant Seeking 101: Getting Started to learn more about Step 1.

Step 2: Finding the right grant opportunities

Since there are so many types of grantors, you never know where you might find the best grant. It is a best practice to cast a wide net when looking for grants. Here are some good places to start looking:

  • Your Network
  • Your Region
  • Previous Grantors
  • Peer Organizations
  • Grant Databases

Once you’ve found some potential grants, it’s time to get critical. Make sure to check the following:

  • Do your values, mission, and objectives align with those of the funder?
  • Does the available funding match your project needs?
  • Will the available grant amount meet your project’s funding needs?

Step 3: Writing the grant application

You’ve identified a grant that would be a good fit. Now your job is to show the grantor that you’re the perfect match with a persuasive application. Here are some tips to get you started down the right path:

  • Answer their questions
  • Tell a story
  • Be clear
  • Edit your writing

Step 4: Look at your grant application from the perspective of a reviewer

You’ve followed the tips in Step 3, but now you’ve got one last thing to do before you hit Submit—take one last look at your application from the perspective of a reviewer.

  • Show the impact of your organization in your application, on your website, and on your social media channels.
  • Engage with the grantor before submitting the application – use social media, email, phone and ideally an in-person meeting.

Read Grant Seeking 101: Thinking Like a Reviewer to make sure you nail Step 4.

Step 5: Nailing grant management

  • Say “thank you”
  • Promote the good news with your supporters and stakeholders
  • Ensure all key players are up-to-speed on the project’s goals, steps, and strategies so you can hit the ground running
  • Submit reports in a timely manner – even if they aren’t asked for
  • Be straightforward and upfront about project successes and challenges

For even more information about finding, applying for, and managing grants check out the Blackbaud University Organizational Best Practices workshop “OBP: Fundraising—Grants (sign in required).