Grants for nonprofits are a great way to obtain additional funds for your next fundraising campaign. By now, you’re almost a whiz kid at this—you know the tricks to getting that funder’s attention and how to stand out in the grant application process. While you know the key steps to shining in the pool of grant applications, you also need to learn and avoid key grant writing mistakes.
In this article, you’ll learn the five key things to avoid if you want to shine in your nonprofit grant application. While these items may seem simple, they are often overlooked. especially because the grant application process can be extremely tedious and time-consuming. We regularly see applicants submit grant applications without question or review just to get it off their hands! Here’s what you need to watch out for:
1. Not Following Directions
When your nonprofit finds a grant to apply for, that’s great! Finding the right grant for your nonprofit’s needs is no walk in the park. So when you do nail down the potential grant, make sure you check off all of the funder’s boxes. It’s important to sit down with your team and review the process. Take a day or two to review the document over and over again. Make sure you have all the pertinent information, and that you’re performing each step as you’re told. For example, if they want the application emailed, don’t try to mail it out to them!
2. Not Providing Adequate Information
As you’re reviewing the document, make sure you are making an outline of what to include in your grant proposal. Be thorough in every part of the proposal. Don’t assume that the funder knows who your nonprofit is, how much impact it’s been making and how well-known it is within your community. Pretend like you’re pitching your nonprofit and its ideas to a stranger—don’t be shy or stingy with the details!
3. Not Structuring Your Nonprofit Grant Proposal in a Clear and Concise Way
Funders are looking at application after application after application. Do not submit a proposal in your application that is a train wreck! If it’s hard to follow, they’ll nix it without second thought. If you’re dropping terms or acronyms without further explanation, they’ll nix it.
Think of it as writing a novel. You’ll want to captivate and entice them, but you can’t expect your reader to keep picking up your book if the story jumps all over the place! You need to have a smooth transition from section to section, consistent formatting, and a clear structure. This keeps the focus on your nonprofit organization’s story, which will speak for itself.
4. Not Editing Carefully
Let’s say you write an incredible grant proposal. It’s something that will capture the funder’s attention, and it’s something that they couldn’t refuse… until they are put off by simple grammatical errors sprinkled throughout the document. That is a surefire way to lose your funder’s attention.
Having a poorly-edited proposal shows funders that your organization is lazy and either doesn’t pay attention to details or simply doesn’t care enough to do so. If you or your team doesn’t have time to copyedit the document, find someone who can. If you search the internet, you’ll find freelancers literally everywhere and for an inexpensive rate.
5. Not Submitting the Grant Proposal on Time
Imagine you’re still in college, and it’s crunch time. Your big term paper is due soon, but you’re running behind, so you submit the term paper a day late. Guess what? The professor will either fail you automatically or deduct serious points from your grade, putting graduation on the line. It’s no different here. A funder may not “deduct” points, but will move on to the next application.
So when your nonprofit decides on which grant it will be applying for, put a big fat reminder in the shared calendar to make sure you submit your application in on time. Your approval (or rejection) depends on it.