Grants 101: Completing Your Grant Application

August 25, 2017- AWE Learning Staff

AWE Learning’s first post of our Grants 101 blog series, Searching for Grant Opportunities, provided you with some tips on seeking out eligible grant opportunities. As a follow up, our Grant Writer has supplied helpful suggestions on what types of organizations you should pursue, as well as guidelines for completing your grant applications.

What kinds of foundations should I pursue for funding?

Many foundations fund projects nationwide; there are also many who will only fund in certain states. This geographical focus is typically related to where the foundation is located and where it conducts business. Think about the businesses in your local community; for example, grocery stores, banks, electric and cable companies, etc. Since these companies are present in your community, I encourage you to explore their websites to identify their community funding efforts. These large corporations receive a large variety of funding inquiries; it is beneficial to locate a foundation’s Form 990 to see who they have funded in the past, and whether or not they have ever funded a library.

Community Foundations and your local Chamber of Commerce are also great starting points since their funding efforts are focused on local projects. They love to see the impact of their money granted within the local community. In addition to large, corporate banks mentioned above, look into small local banks, as they are invested in local outreach as well.

Begin a conversation with the foundation you are interested in. Don’t shy away from contacting the foundation and sharing the program you are seeking funding for. This conversation is the best way to learn whether or not your project is eligible for funding, rather than wasting your time and submitting a proposal outside of their funding parameters.

What are some key points to mention when writing an effective grant?

When applying for grants, it is best to write the copy the way that a journalist writes an article.  In your proposal deliver the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How, of your project/program.

  • Who: Who will be benefiting from the project? Who will be in charge of running the project and assessing its success?
  • What: What is the project? What funds, supplies, and resources are needed?
  • Where: Where will this project take place?
  • When: When will this program take place? How long will the program run for?
  • Why: What are the benefits of this project? Why are you asking for funds for this project to take place? Why do you want this program at your organization?
  • How: How will your goals be met? What will demonstrate that this project was successful?

Unless you are applying to an organization that has its own template and parameters on character limit, a comprehensive proposal should cover all of the areas listed above. Based on what a foundation/organization is looking for, you will want to cater what you’re proposing is aligned with the goals of the organization you are applying to. (Hint: Review the organization’s website to learn more about their mission and focus areas for funding.)

How can I increase my chances of being awarded the grant?

From the start, you should do your research and have as much information as possible about the organization you are applying to; this includes getting a sense of what they generally fund, and their funding range. A site like can provide you with the Form 990 of an organization you are seeking out. The Form 990 will inform you of who they have funded in the past and how much was awarded. Many organizations will state on the funding page of their website the range of grants that they issue and whether they have a minimum or maximum dollar amount. Be attentive on where they generally fund; if you start to see trends in a geographical location or subject area of funding that will give you a better idea of your chances.

Have specific questions you want to hear our Grant Writer discuss? Share your questions on Facebook and we’ll address them in future Grant Q&A posts!  

Grants 101 Blog Post

Join the discussion on grants on Facebook.