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5 Tips For Securing Grants

Posted By Rui Miguel Martins, Volunteer Guest Blogger, December 16, 2015
Updated: December 15, 2015

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


For many non-profits, grants are crucial to delivering their programs and services, and for some, it is their primary source of funding. However, the process of applying for grants can often seem complex and overwhelming. Anne Morais has over 15 years of experience in writing successful grants, and she shared her knowledge and expertise to a group of non-profit leaders.

The discussion was part of Volunteer Toronto’s Trailblazer Series, a set of leadership talks geared towards people who run grassroots non-profits. Our guest blogger, Rui Miguel Martins, provides a summary of the 5 Tips for Securing Grants.

Seek Tri-alignment

There needs to be perfect alignment between the organization, intended beneficiaries and the grant makers. It is always important that the program aligns with the agency’s mandate. And at the same time, it must align with the needs of those you are looking to help.  Non-profit leaders should remember that the program is about the needs of those they serve and not the needs of their organization.  And finally, it should align with the priorities of the grant maker.

Create A Clear and Consistent Program Design

It is important to establish a clear objective. Construct a detailed description of what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to do it. Grant makers need to understand how their money is going to benefit those in need. Remember the outcome is the most important part of the process. It needs to be results based and not theoretical. Government programs will ask for long-term, mid-term and short-term outcomes. A good idea is to find a clear example of how a similar program has yielded positive results.

Use Clear, Consistent and Collaborative Writing

"For grant writing, the greatest tool you have is words,” Morais says.  Your words need to reflect both clarity and thought. Assume that the person you are writing for knows nothing about the sector. Limit the number of ideas to one paragraph each. Do not use weak verbs like “I look to”, rather use “I will.” Always remember that the goal is to solve a problem, so consistency in all aspects is very important.  It is also a good idea to incorporate the grant maker’s language and vocabulary as much as possible.

Establish Partnerships

Keep an open mind to partnerships. Collaborating demonstrates that you are solving the problem. Partnerships can work on many levels, including fundraising, service provision or promotion. Start thinking about partnerships before writing the grant. Look at where you need help. Be open to working with for-profits, governments and local groups, in order to get things done. "It is about identifying what you do well and what you don’t do well, and finding a solution,” Morais says.

Create a Good Budget for the Project

Design a budget that is realistic and practical. It needs to be reasonable and cost-effective from the point of view of the grant maker. Ensure the math is right. Grant makers often provide their own budget form, so it is important to follow the guidelines. Do your research beforehand.; most grant makers have specific parameters when it comes to certain costs, like administration, which is usually between 12-15% of the budget.

To find out more about writing great grant proposals, visit Anne Morais’ website


Rui Miguel Martins is a communications specialist and social media strategist based in Toronto. He currently volunteers his time at Make A Change Canada, Yonge Street Mission, as well as at Volunteer Toronto.

Tags:  Grant writing  how to apply for funding  how to find funding for your non-profit  how to get grants  non-profit funding  non-profit grants 

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