Tips for Grant Writing

Here are some tips for helping write strong grant proposals. You may not be a professional grant writer and the time you have to put into a proposal is limited, but the quality of your proposal will matter when making final decisions about what gets funded.

As a reminder, the readers of your proposal may not be experts in your field. They may not know as much about your work as you do. Keep this in mind as you craft your proposal and strive to get your ideas to be as clear as possible. Be thoughtful and structured but also share your vision, excitement and enthusiasm. A reader will be influenced both by the quality of your ideas and the effort you put into the proposal.

Plan before you write: One of the biggest mistakes that people make when writing a grant, is entering their first draft directly into the electronic proposal. Writing a good grant proposal is about translating your ideas into a written structure provided by the granting agency. Like any writing process, it is strengthened by outlining, drafting, getting feedback and editing before submitting a final copy.

Make your case: A good grant proposal makes a clear case for why one idea should be funded over another idea. Be clear about why your proposal matters and how it will address a need.  Your readers do not know as much about your work as you do – and most are not educators – so helping them understand the “why” will make a difference.

Summarize the how: Every grant proposal will ask you to articulate how you will be able to get this work done. This will happen through questions that connect to planning, timeline, resources. Articulate the plan and resources you have put into place to get to a final outcome. One strategy that can help with finding the right balance of detail is to consider translating a basic flow chart or diagram of your project into writing.

Use the topic sentence: Grants will be scored on clarity of ideas and answers and topic sentences help focus the reader’s attention. Here are some examples:

  • There are three elements to my proposed idea
  • The goal of my project is
  • My proposal is based on work that has been researched by
  • My project requires

Share your inspiration: Grant reviewers are always interested in why your idea is a good one and why it matters to you. Make sure you highlight the research, or source of inspiration, that is at the core of your proposal.   Don’t limit yourself to “academic” research. Research can include talking to other teachers and practitioners, observing the practice in action, learning about a successful effort through a course or professional development group. This is also the place where your passion for your work will help!

Quality matters: Your proposal will be reviewed by a team of people and then compared to other proposals.  The rules of writing matter as they reflect the care and thoughtfulness you put into your proposal. Check things like sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If editing is not your strength, use a colleague or friend.