How to run a successful grant writing program

Grant writing success is the unicorn of the nonprofit world. Any experienced grant writer knows well the frustrations, struggles, and challenges that come with consistently applying for grant awards.


Grants are accepted at a rate of about 10 percent across the nonprofit industry. That means you’re applying for many more grants than you’re receiving, and that process can certainly add additional challenges to an already arduous process.


So what does it take to actually succeed at grant writing and to sustain that success over the long term? Here are a few essential elements of a successful grant writing program


  • Communication: A successful grant writing program hinges on a great system of communication between the grant writer and the organization’s program staff and management. Work closely with your grant writer to ensure success.


  • Diligence: Persistent efforts yield better results than applying for grants in spurts. Lay out a long-term grant writing program and be diligent with your application efforts. Don’t get discouraged by rejections.


  • Great programs: This one is fairly obvious, but it’s pretty hard to have a strong grant proposal without strong programs that are backed up by research, show success through measurable outcomes and goals, and have a great staff running them.


  • Strong writing skills: Your organization might be doing wonderful work, but if you can’t communicate that thoroughly in a grant proposal, you’re fighting a battle you’ll never win. Hire a great grant writer to get the job done.


  • The right prospect research: Another critical piece of the grant writing pie is grant prospect research. Make sure you’re applying to grantmakers that align with your organization’s goals and programs.


  • The ability to learn from your mistakes: Most organizations do not follow up after a grant is declined. But if you’re able to get in touch with the grantmaker to find out why they didn’t fund the request, you can learn more about their goals, improve future applications and overall messaging, and hone in on your grant writing strategy.


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