grant writing basics

Grant Writing 101: Start With the Basics

What is the most valuable resource for learning grant writing basics? For some grant writers, just surfing the Web using Google search finds them the information they need. But while there’s plenty of information out there, like most internet searches, weeding through the results to find gold takes valuable time.

That’s why grant writers also turn to colleagues, experienced grant writers and funders for feedback and tips. This kind of advice — from those who have walked the same path can help grant writers with less experience tackle more complex grant applications than they are used to. They help to avoid pitfalls and embrace industry-standard “best practices.” And be sure to visit for more information and resources for grant writers.

Remember the 5 Rs of Grant Writing Basics

Because grant writers usually have little or no idea who will review the proposal they submit, uncertainty is part of the process. What are the grant reviewer’s expectations? Are they experts on the subject at hand? How experienced are they at reviewing grant proposals and applications?

Using the 5 Rs of grant writing offers a way for proposals to leave a positive impression on reviewers. The reason is, they cover the basics of what every grant writer should do in preparing a grant.

Here are the 5 Rs:

1. Readiness. Every grant writer should become 100% familiar with everything about the grant in question. What does the funding organization expect the grant to achieve? And, what documents must be included with the proposal? Knowing the grant guidelines before starting the process gives the grant writer a better chance at giving the funder precisely what they are looking for.

2. Research. Part of the grant writing process is researching everything about the organization funding and/or awarding the grant. And, naturally you should also thoroughly research the grant itself. You can find some successful research stories here at

3. Relationships. Building relationships is key to success as a grant writer. It’s as simple as keeping in touch with key people in the funding organization and, of course, your client or clients. And these relationships often begin with submitting a Letter of Interest ahead of a grant.

4. Writing. Kick into your best storytelling gear when drafting an outline and/or narrative for your grant. A grant application should tell a story. This story tells why your client deserves this grant. Also, it shows how they will use the grant to achieve their own and the grantor’s goals.

5. Reporting. Every grantor wants to know the effect of their funding. So nearly all grants include reporting requirements as part of the grant award. Of course, this can depend on the granting organization and/or complexity of the grant. And many grants require reporting throughout the lifecycle of the grant. So it’s important to submit reports when expected to keep the grantor satisfied the funds are being used as expected.

Know What an Excellent Proposal Looks LIke

Grant are offered by federal or state agencies and nonprofit and private entities or foundations. But all grant applications ask the same of proposals, no matter the focus of the grant. The key qualities of excellent proposals are universal. But keep in mind they are also subjective. So it helps to become familiar with winning proposals. Luckily, many organizations post these online or will share upon request.

What all excellent grant proposals share are these qualities:

  • Clarity. Make sure the goals and objectives for the project are measurable, and there’s a clear out outcome-based evaluation plan in place.

  • Concise. Answer all application questions directly and include all the specific information requested.

  • Compelling. This winds back to storytelling, as the proposal should be written in a manner that makes the reviewer want to move forward with your idea.

Do Your Grant Writing Basics Homework

Before starting a grant proposal, make sure your research is complete. Therefore, you should know:

  • The funding priorities.
  • Application process.
  • Application deadline.
  • The organization’s grant history.
  • The grants’ geographical distribution.
  • The average grant award size.

Once you know all the details surrounding a grant, you then can ask the right questions when contacting a grantor. And this is the path to building that important relationship with the people who are awarding the grants.

Find the Right Client

Many grant writers specialize in specific grant areas. And some grant writers mainly write proposals in one field, like education or community building or health. A grant writer can focus on large federal grants or those from smaller, community-based organizations or only private foundations.

Since GrantWriterTeam is powered by GrantWatch, matching your grant writing skills with the right client and grant program can be as simple as joining our team. Because this is what GrantWriterTeam specializes in: matching clients and grant writers. So visit to join today!