Writing Successful Grant Proposals: How to be brilliant

writing successful grants

On January 1, World of Children began officially welcoming Nominations from around the world. Already, we have been truly inspired by this year’s Nominees; these heroes are making a lasting impact in the lives of children around the world.

We hope you will join us in our search for the world’s most effective child advocates by nominating a hero for the Humanitarian Award, Health Award, or Youth Award by April 1, 2014.

To help you write a stellar Nomination, we have compiled a list of 8 basic, tried and true tips for writing a successful grant. At the bottom, we included 3 Top Secret Tips for Success: three ways Nominations for our Awards rise to the top of our list, leaving us with a memorable and lasting impression.

Grant Writing 101: 8 Tips for Writing a Successful Grant

1. Give Yourself Time. Though grant applications are often accepted over a long period of time (Nominations for our Awards are open for a full three months) don’t wait until the last minute to write it. Give yourself plenty of time to gather important material, think about your responses and have a co-worker review your application.

2. Collaborate! Don’t try to write a grant by yourself; your application can only get better with someone else’s eyes on it. Ask co-workers for suggestions or to proofread your answers. If you are submitting a Nomination for someone else, talk to your Nominee! Ask them specific questions that will be helpful later. What inspired them to start their organization? Why are they dedicated to helping children? What is their vision for the future? You can view a sample Nomination form here to prepare.

3. Don’t Assume Anything. Never assume that the person reading your application knows anything about your organization, or why it’s important. Try to write from the point of view of someone who has never heard about you or your work. If you work in a remote area of the world, give them some cultural background to frame what you do. Clue your reader in to specific challenges facing the children you serve; then show how your work helps them overcome these challenges.

4. Show, Don’t Tell. Quotes of support, case studies, media coverage and other endorsements are excellent ways to sum up your organization’s successes and qualifications. Highlight your results with specific anecdotes of children that your organization has impacted.

5. Be Data Driven. Back up your answers with hard data and specific outcomes to show that your organization is dedicated to transparency and accountability. Highlight specific examples of the real impact you have had on one child. For example, “We sheltered and fed hundreds of homeless children last year” isn’t nearly as powerful as “10-year-old Hannah came to our foster home malnourished, homeless, and alone. We gave her three warm meals a day, clothes, school supplies, and paired her with a mentor. Now, two years later, she excels in school and lives with a loving family. 3,500 children like Hannah were given food, shelter and mentoring in 2013.”

6. Be Honest. When talking about your organization, never exaggerate! We want to see that you have an accurate and clear understanding of your work and its social impact. Finalists for our Awards are rigorously vetted and investigated, so overstated accomplishments are always unveiled.

7. Edit, Edit, Edit. Don’t submit your Nomination before re-reading it more than a few times. Keep your answers succinct and to the point; and make sure you have included everything you want your reviewer to know about your Nominee.

8. Make a Copy. If possible, make sure you have a copy saved somewhere else before submitting your application. Some grant applications, like our Nominations, are submitted entirely online. Don’t make the mistake of entering your answers into the online form, only to have your browser crash before you can save it.

Our Three Secrets for Brilliant Grants!

1. Look in the Mirror. Don’t waste time applying for grants that your organization doesn’t qualify for. Take a few minutes to write down a list of key requirements, pulling exact words from the grant description. For example, “high-visibility,” “short-term,” “education-based” or “local.” (View our list of requirements here.) Make a check mark next to each word that your program qualifies for. If you haven’t checked all of the words on the list, it might be a good idea to look for other grant opportunities. If you do meet all of the criteria, be sure to weave those keywords into your application so reviewers can easily see that you would make a good fit.

2. Be Colorful! Most grant reviewers will evaluate hundreds — if not thousands — of grant applications this year. Paint a colorful picture that the reviewer will enjoy so your grant stands out as memorable, bold, and special. Use language that is reflective of the values and culture you work in.

3. Choose Your Silver Bullet Wisely. Before you begin your application, write down the one thing you want your reviewers to know. This should be the “silver bullet” that makes your organization stand out from the crowd. Think about what makes your work unique: perhaps your founder underwent a major change in his or her life in order to serve children, or you have innovated a new method to solve a particular issue facing children.

We hope these tips give you the tools you need to write a stellar Nomination and grant proposal. If you have any questions about your Nomination, please contact our office at [email protected]. Nominations are open until April 1, 2014. Get started>>

We look forward to reading about your hero serving children. Good luck!

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