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.


Funders accept grant applications 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.



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.



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 let rejections discourage you.


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.


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 funder declines to fund their grant application. 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.


Learn more about our grant writing services here.

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  • Avatar for Nicole Harris

    Nicole Harris

    02.12.2020 at 07:33 Reply

    Great comments! I have been working at a non-profit as their grant manager for four months now. This is a newly created position, so I am still collecting and building program reports. Should I have started submitting grant applications by now?

    • Avatar for PGWAdmin


      08.12.2020 at 08:43 Reply

      Congrats on the new position! That answer depends on a lot of factors — is the organization ready to apply and compete for grants? Have you collected all the information you need? Each situation is different.

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