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


  • Avatar for Tanya Cothran

    Tanya Cothran

    07.11.2011 at 16:02 Reply

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Avatar for Tahmina Sultan

    Tahmina Sultan

    07.11.2011 at 16:03 Reply

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

  • Avatar for Lane H Richards

    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

    • Avatar for 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.

  • Avatar for Kelly McCaffrey

    Kelly McCaffrey

    21.04.2020 at 14:19 Reply

    I was hired back in September with about 20-30% of my time supposedly to write grants or raise funds. As I reach out to the managers to get feedback and start working on proposal ideas that match with RFPs, I get no response. I know what needs to go INTO a good grant proposal but I’m missing that bridge between the group’s general interest/program areas (the what) and their willingness/time to sit down with me and map out the costs (how much), timelines (when), the staff time for what would be funded (who), and the justification for it (why). “Just go out there and write some grants for us!” they say.
    Do grant writer circles have a name for this disconnect? Suggestions on where I could learn more about this challenge so I can overcome it and get writing?
    Desperate to get started – Kelly.

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