Want to Improve Your Grant Writing Skills? Take Time to Learn from Others 

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Written by Chelsea Adams

Ask any writer for ways to improve your writing and they’ll tell you to read more. This advice is true for anyone who makes their living putting pen to paper, including grant writers.

That’s why it’s important to read other organizations’ grant applications. You can gain a lot from their work that translates into your own grant writing.

Review sample grant applications

We’re in no way suggesting you plagiarize. Given the differences in organizations and project scopes, copying someone else’s work wouldn’t make much sense anyway. But looking at how others have approached a grant application can certainly broaden your perspective. You’ll be able to better hone your skills and find your own voice as a writer.

Read critically and with purpose

Don’t simply read an application for the sake of doing it. Rather, focus on the writer’s craft. Look for the things they did well and not so well. Read it as if you were going to offer the writer constructive criticism. Make notes as you go so you’ll remember how to approach aspects of future applications.

Also, don’t read every word of the application. You can skim over much of the minutiae. You really don’t need to know the names of the organization’s board of directors, right? Instead, seek out those chunks of the applications that may be challenging for you. The goal is to review the application for characteristics you can use in your own writing.

  • Read successful applications and those that didn’t get funded. See if you can determine what might have prevented the project from winning the grant.
  • Read applications from various types of organizations. Even if it’s not in your field, you can gain a lot from looking at others’ storytelling style and structural approach.
  • Read governmental and private funder grant applications. There is world of difference in the two, so it’s good to delineate the differences.

Tailor your application to your funder

Remember, every grant application has different requirements. No two are alike. So don’t copy the structure of a grant application you found online. You’ll need to make sure your application follows your funder’s specific format requirements.

Where to find sample grant applications

Start by Googling “sample grant application” or a similar term. You’ll find a bevy of options to explore. You can also reach out to your colleagues and ask if they would share some of their grant applications with you.  

Here are a few to get you started.

Museums for America

Kurzweil Education

National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases

Prevention Plus Wellness

Buffalo Promise

William T. Grant Scholars

A disclaimer: We haven’t read every word of these applications, and we don’t know if they were funded.

Grant writing help and training

Another way to improve is by taking an online grant writing course. We offer a self-paced grant writing course that makes grant writing easy and accessible to anyone, regardless of your background. Check it out here and contact us if we can answer questions.

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