Grant writing advice for first time grant seekers

Nonprofits seeking their first grant should heed some grant writing advice to ensure their efforts are successful, beyond just writing a strong grant proposal.


It’s extremely difficult for brand new nonprofits to find success in their efforts unless they have a contact at a foundation or have the ability to make a contact. Or if they’re able to make a strong case for a grant that specifically funds start ups or provides seed money.


In our experience, these opportunities are rare. New organizations should wait until they have a strong base of support (financial and otherwise) before pursuing grant opportunities or hiring a grant writer on a contract basis.


Here is some additional grant writing advice to consider when pursuing your first grant:


1. Do your research. Make sure the foundations you’re contacting are a strong match for your program.


2. Make the case for your organization. There are lots of social issues out there that need attention, but there are also lots of nonprofits. Why you, why here, why now? Also, be sure to avoid the pitfalls of some common grant proposal mistakes.


3. Show you are on stable financial footing. We’ve argued you will not benefit from begging or from looking desperate. You must show your organization is financially stable.


4. Invite the foundation’s staff for a site visit or offer to make a presentation to their board and/or staff. Do something to get the name recognition that we think will help when the foundation is sifting through a huge pile of grant applications.


The bottom line is: don’t rush the grant proposal process. Wait until your organization is poised to receive funding before you invest the massive amount of time (and sometimes money) that grant writing requires. Listening to this grant writing advice will help in the short and long term.


Learn more about our grant writing services here.

Grant writing advice for first time grant seekers was last modified: by


  • Tanya Cothran

    07.11.2011 at 16:02 Reply

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Tahmina Sultan

    07.11.2011 at 16:03 Reply

    All of your suggestions will help a lot for grass root nonprofit organizations.

  • Marsha

    21.12.2011 at 11:16 Reply

    I like your article, short and to the point. Makes it more desirable to read.
    In item 4 you suggest inviting as well as sharing info, but we do not have a building yet or office in fact. We have money coming in and the ceo if holding it for the purpose we are set out to do. Help victims. However, I see the need to expand and get a small office or consider a home and having a time getting him to see that. So our option here would be to just present out cause as you also suggested.
    I know there are lots of searches out there and lots of helps, albeit most of them charge a monthly fee. I haven’t gone that route yet. As I would have to ask for money…lol Is there a way to gain this knowledge for free at first? Am I asking too much or not enough? grr. I am only 2 months into this social media and just don’t quite know how to find how to connect to the grantors or philanthropists. I don’t think they are going to just see me out here trying to flag them down? DO You??
    (and Megan says,”What??”)

    • PGWAdmin

      21.12.2011 at 11:19 Reply

      Without knowing all the details of what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s impossible to give specific advice. But it sounds like you may be trying to pull the cart before the horse. If you don’t have anything to show foundations, you shouldn’t be flagging them down. And you probably are trying to go after grants too soon.

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  • Lane H Richards

    02.11.2017 at 00:42 Reply

    Quick question: I still have several things to accomplish before applying for a grant to help get my company off the ground. But I see they have an opportunity (grant) that’s exactly what I’m looking for, im just not quiet ready. What are the odds of there being a similar grant in the future? Excuse my ignorance, just recently started looking into getting a grant and I’m not sure exactly how everything works! Thanks in advance

    • PGWAdmin

      02.11.2017 at 08:31 Reply

      Hi Lane,
      That’s tough to speak to without knowing the specifics of the grant opportunity. If it’s a foundation that has regular giving cycles, then it may become available again. Or, it could be a one-time opportunity. I suggest contacting the grantmaker to find out the details. However, if you’re not ready to apply, you’re simply not ready.

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