Top Tips for Successful Grant Writing

Hint: It’s the same as essay writing

It never ceases to amaze me how my writing career has veered in a different direction than what I had planned. I started uni to get the skills to write a novel. Along the way, I learnt how to write in styles which left me thinking “pfft I’m never going to use that”. How wrong I was!! In trying to subside my novel writing, I estimate I have used at least 50% of the styles I learnt. However, one lesson which I now wish I had gained was how to write a successful grant application, because back in February I began working with a fantastic not-for-profit organisation, Hope for our Children, as their grant writer. Because I was never taught this lesson, I unashamedly approached one of my tutors begging for tips on grant writing. Here a few things he taught me, and a few I have picked up on my own.


  • The biggest weapon you will have in your arsenal is research. Knowing your project inside and out will make writing the application easier. For example, I had to write an application for HFOC’s therapy dog project. This required me to know what went into training a therapy dog and how it would benefit the children.

  • This brings me to my second tip – be sure of how the project will benefit the greater community. In considering this, you need to think broader than just the immediate beneficiaries. Grant suppliers like to know how your project will help the most number of people.

Your desk can look a bit like this when writing a grant - minus the succulent. I can't keep plants alive
  • Choose your words carefully because many grants have words limit. You need to be sure that every word is working for you!

  • Brown-nosing is expected and welcomed. Know the provider’s philosophy and areas of interest and where possible weave them into your application.

  • Do your maths and make sure that ALL expenses of running the project are covered in the ‘costs of the project’ section of the application. Consider things materials, advertising, employee expenses and administration costs. Also, don’t forget to include the cost of writing the grant application, but check the criteria first, as some providers explicitly state that covering the costs of writing the application are not included.

  • Don’t limit your funding to one provider. While some providers don’t want to share the limelight with others, the majority will want to know the other areas you are seeking funding. It is okay to say you are applying for other grants for the project. In fact, this tells the provider you are committed to the project and are taking steps toward completion.

  • Have a tough skin. You are going to get more rejection letters than you will have successful notifications. And that’s not included the providers who don’t notify you at all. Remember, you are battling against thousands of other applications. Take the rejections as a chance to review and improve your next application.


Quick Tips • Be sure your writing is error-free; • Check that your project falls within the criteria of the grant of which you are applying. If you are unsure, contact the provider; • Where possible, stipulate the local suppliers who will assist with this project. Providers like to know funds are staying locally and will further benefit the community. • Save copies of your applications. • Be organised and don’t leave the application writing to the last minute.

As I said, these are some of my TOP tips. There are many more things to consider when writing a grant application. You can find a more extensive list at Community Tool Box.

For other tips on grant writing or to find out how my writing can benefit your organisation in another way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

North Mackay, Queensland

ABN 76 822 140 489

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