Grant Writing Tips

Any one in the arts business knows that one of the on-going challenges is maintaining a constant stream of revenue. Many of us reach out to grants and philanthropic foundation giving to help us succeed.

Back in late August, we attended a two-day grant writing seminar in which we learned a lot about what it takes to write a good proposal. To make it as easy as possible, we have taken those two days and condensed it down to what we think are the key takeaways.

Grant Writing Tips

  1. Identify the Need – Problem or issue the org indents to confront
  2. Capacity – how the org is uniquely qualified or has the ability to address the issue (WHY US?)
  3. Plan – program design. Description of what the org will do to address the need (WHAT WE DO?)
  4. Budget – Identify how much the project will cost, how much has been raised and what portion the grant will cover (HOW MUCH?)
  5. Evaluation – show that the program worked
  1. Need –
  • Put parameters around your project and use supporting data. Don’t make the problem too big to solve.
  • Usually geographically contained – a selected area
  • Always address an issue. Frame the issue as a community centered
  • Find and use current data to support your need statement
  • Show urgency. What it needs to be addressed now.
  1. Capacity
  • Clear mission and vision can address this
  • Need to understand this before asking for money
  • Have a Strategic plan
  • Why is your organization is uniquely qualified to address the issue, and if you have the staff or people to perform the service.
  • Consider an agency resume with the following info
    • Years in operation
    • Project management History
    • Grant Managemtn History
    • Specific accomplishments or program outcomes
    • Agency Organiztion (how you’re structured)
    • Resources
    • Partnerships
  1. Plan
  • Explain programs the organization is intending to do to solve the need and what additional resources would do.
    • What
    • Where
    • Who
    • How
    • When
    • Measure/Evaluate
    • Timing
  1. Budget
  • Identify the committed funds, matches and other resources
  • How much do you need total for the project, how much do you need from the funder, and how much are you getting from other sources?
  • Provide a picture of the financial health of the organization by answering the following:
  • If money doesn’t come, then what?
  • How were the costs determined?
  • Has the Org. budget increased or decreased why or why not?
  • How the Org raises money?
  • Essential documentation
    • Letters of Commitment – official letters from funding sources
    • Memorandums of Understanding
    • Appraisals
    • Volunteers – Volunteer hours can be counted as resources or in-kind – Average hour is $23 but consider using $0- $12 (nonprofit norm)
  • Find Federal Grant Budget request forms to build your working budget to save time during application process.


  1. Evaluation –
  • How to track and record the success of the program
  • Create benchmarks and indications of success
  • Are the successes sustainable and replicable? Show the Change.
  • Tell the story through numbers, events, or behavioral changes. Get quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Identify up to three things that the project can change and be evaluated.
  • See Logic model

Roles of a Nonprofit Board –

  1. Determine mission and Vision
  2. Policies and objectives
  3. Hire CEO
  4. Effective Planning
  5. Adequate resources
  6. Manage resources
  7. Monitor programs
  8. Public Image
  9. Court of Appeals
  10. Asses Board Performance

Resources –

Notes –

  • Always Submit three days before they are due.
  • Need to have a DUNS number and an active Registration in Central Contractor Registry for federal grants. SAM – require recertification once a year
  • Create a Strategic plan
  • Have board trainings

Download all this in a down loadable PDF Here – Grant-writing.