The 5 basic steps of the grant writing process

Many newly established organizations (and established entities that have never written grants) are in the dark about what is involved in grant writing what the grant writing process is. There are a few basic steps of the grant writing process you should know: grant prospect research, first contact, research and discussion, write and submit, and follow up.


As professional grant writers, our job involves leading our clients through this process and ensuring the long-term success of the grant program. Here’s a very basic look at the grant writing process.


The grant writing process


1. Grant prospect research

This is generally the first step, unless your organization can provide me with pre-determined grant opportunities. Otherwise, we’ll spend a few hours searching through the fee-based databases to which we subscribe. We’ll produce a list of great prospects for your organization.


2. First contact

Next, we reach out to foundations that publish their phone number or email address. We discuss whether your nonprofit is a good fit with the grantmaker and clarify any questions we have. Some foundations specifically say, “Don’t contact us,” so of course we’ll honor that request when necessary.


3. Research and discussion

This is the bulk of the work of a grant writer when it comes to basic steps of the grant writing process. We’ll interview the key people involved in the project. We’ll ask lots of questions to gain a full understanding of the project, and we’ll do some research about the problem(s) the project solves. We’ll also gather supporting materials like past grants, budgets, 990s, and other items that will help us develop the application.


4. Write and submit

Then, we’ll put together the application material the foundation requests. This may be a short letter, an online application, a five-page narrative, etc. Our clients read over these materials after we have written a first draft. They can then make changes and approve it before submission.


5. Follow up

We often follow up with a foundation after a rejection, providing them with more information. If the foundation awards a grant, we’ll work on a grant report that shows how your nonprofit spent the grant award money. In each case, we discuss with our clients how to best handle these tasks when they arise. This is the final part of basic steps of the grant writing process.


Interested in learning more about our grant writing services? Contact us.

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