How to Apply for a Grant: Your Guide to Winning Proposals

Team NLC Fundraising, Tips

Grant writing that leads to grant winning requires more than a technically correct and polished proposal. In today’s increasingly competitive and ever-evolving nonprofit sector, organizations must connect emotionally with potential funders to open their hearts and wallets. Are you wondering how to apply for a grant that will stand out from other applicants?

How to Apply for a Grant

How to Apply for a Grant and Get It

NLC trainer Julé Colvin has more than 30 years of professional experience helping nonprofits raise millions of dollars through better grant writing strategies and skills. Here are a few of her top tips to master the art and science of grant writing.

  1. UNDERSTAND YOUR FUNDER: Study your potential funder and find out what makes them tick. This is more than scanning a LinkedIn profile — think of it as studying a potential date on a relationship site. Consider other work they’re funding and how it aligns with their vision. Be sure you’re speaking their language. The more you know about your potential funder’s motivations and expectations, the more intentional you can be with your proposal and approach.
  2. TELL A STORY: There’s no denying the fact that people love stories. We learn through stories. We connect through stories. Think about your proposal as a story you’re telling, not just a series of professionally polished answers and information.
  3. ELEVATE WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM: Remember that funders are social investors. They want to improve lives and communities, but they also care about their bottom line. Be sure your funder can see that you’re a powerful partner who will bring them a return on their investment while reducing risk. Be clear and concrete about how your organization will help them reach their philanthropic and business goals.
  4. CATCH THEIR EYE: Add visual interest to your proposal to make it memorable. Include adequate white space, break up text with bullets and include images that reinforce your story. Grant writing is marketing — and it says a lot about your organization and its ability to deliver. Presentation does matter.

READ NEXT: How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal

Get Your Certificate in Grant Writing

If you’re new to grant writing and want to learn how to apply for a grant with excellence, join NLC and facilitator Julé Colvin to earn your Grant Writing Certificate. Through this interactive series, you’ll learn how to succeed in today’s competitive grant writing environment.

Specifically, you will …

  • Understand how to apply for a grant and create successful proposals
  • Learn how to write a grant narrative and articulate measurable and reliable outcomes
  • Get hands-on experience to develop budgets and identify funding resources
  • Be prepared for what to do after receiving a grant award
  • Receive individualized feedback from local grant professionals
  • Meet others in our nonprofit community who you can network and problem-solve with
  • Invest in your professional development to position yourself for long-term success as a nonprofit leader


See All Upcoming Learning Opportunities for Nonprofit Leaders

From grant writing and fundraising to board governance, marketing communications, HR and leadership, we offer nearly 100 nonprofit training courses and learning opportunities. See our current program schedule and register for an upcoming event here.

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