Obtaining grant funding is essential for the sustainability and growth of nonprofits. However, the process of writing a grant proposal can be daunting. In this post, we’ll outline the do’s and don’ts of grant proposal writing to help make the process a little bit easier. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to writing a strong grant proposal that will increase your chances of securing funding for your organization.

Do tell a story

Your grant proposal should tell a story about your organization—why it was founded, what its mission is, and how it’s making a difference in the community. This will help the grant makers understand your organization and its work, and it will make your proposal more memorable. When making a case for your organization, be sure to highlight its accomplishments and how it’s unique. Also, be sure to explain how the funding you’re requesting will be used and how it will benefit the community.

Do Address the funder by name in the introduction

When you’re writing your grant proposal, it’s important to personalize it to the funder as much as possible. One way to do this is to address the funder by name in the introduction. This shows that you’ve done your research and that you’re taking the time to make your proposal specific to their organization. It also helps to build a relationship with the funder, which could come in handy if you ever need to ask for additional funding in the future. By starting off on a positive note, you’re setting the tone for a fruitful collaboration.

Do Clearly State what you’re Asking For

When you apply for a grant, the funding organization is going to want to know what you’re asking for. Your proposal should clearly state the amount of money you’re requesting (or amount of specific items for an in kind request), what it will be used for, and how it will benefit the organization and the people it’s serving. Make sure to spell out each acronym and give a detailed explanation of your project. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for the funding organization to understand your proposal and determine if you’re a good fit for their grant.

Do Proofread your Proposal

Proofreading is an essential step in writing any document, but it’s especially important when writing a grant proposal. A grant proposal is your chance to make a good first impression on funders. It’s important to make sure that your proposal is well written, error-free and easy to read.

Make sure to proofread your proposal thoroughly, and ask someone else to do the same. It’s worth taking the time to get your proposal right, because a well-written proposal can make the difference between winning and losing a grant.

Don’t overlook the funder’s guidelines and requirements

When you’re writing a grant proposal, it’s important to follow the guidelines set forth by the funding organization. Make sure to read the guidelines carefully and address each requirement in your proposal.

Additionally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to request funds for something that’s outside of the funder’s guidelines. This can easily lead to your proposal being rejected, so it’s important to be mindful of what’s allowed and what is not. Do your research and be mindful of what the funder is looking for before you start drafting your proposal. It will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run.

Don’t use Excessive Language

When writing your proposal, avoid using flowery language, excessive jargon, or overly technical terms. This can make your proposal difficult to understand and will only serve to distract from your main points. Stick to simple, straightforward language that effectively communicates your ideas and will be easy for the reader to follow. 

Instead, using strong verbs and an active voice can help make your ideas more powerful and easier to understand. For example, saying “The funding from XYZ Foundation will impact our program participants by […],” is more powerful than saying “Our program will be funded by the XYZ Foundation which improves […].” Active voice makes your writing more concise and easier to read, and it also gives your proposal more impact.

Don’t Forget to Thank the Funder

When you’re finished writing your proposal, don’t forget to thank the funder for their time and consideration. Express your gratitude and let them know that you look forward to hearing from them soon. A simple “Thank you for your time and consideration” will do, but you can also get creative with your thank-you note. Whatever you do, make sure to show your appreciation and gratitude. The funder is taking a risk by investing in your organization, so it’s important to let them know that their contribution is not going unnoticed.


When it comes to writing a grant proposal, always remember to tailor it to the specific funders you’re targeting. Make sure to showcase how your nonprofit is unique and highlight past successes. By following these tips and avoiding these common mistakes, your nonprofit can put together a winning grant proposal that will help secure the funding it needs.