Grant Writing For Dummies

Grant Writing For Dummies

by Beverly A. Browning

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Learn to:

  • Navigate federal grant databases and apply online for grants
  • Find the most current public and private sector grant opportunities
  • Create strong statements of need
  • Submit applications that meet funders’ expectations

Your comprehensive guide to finding and winning grant monies

Grant writing can be quite daunting, but this complete guide provides you with everything you need to get started with your application right away! Use this resource, including new and updated material, to move through the entire grant-writing process and apply for some of the billions of dollars available from public and private sector sources.

  • Grant writing 101 — get an easy-to-understand introduction to the ins and outs of grants, including who funds them and how to receive them
  • Know what funders want — discover the many grant-making organizations throughout the world and how to tailor your message to what your prospects expect
  • Tug on reviewers’ heartstrings — find out how to tell your story so peer reviewers award your application the maximum number of points
  • The write stuff — explore writing techniques to create powerful, successful applications and proposals that convey your need for grant funding

Go online and find templates for request letters, executive summaries, logic models, budget summary tables, and more

Open the book and find:

  • How to connect with grant-making agencies
  • What goes into a grant submission
  • How to build a great funding plan
  • An overview of the peer review process
  • A helpful checklist to make sure all the pieces are in place
  • How to navigate federal grant websites
  • Compelling words to use in applications
  • Advice on requesting matching funds and other items

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119280132
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/12/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 364,710
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Dr. Beverly A. Browning, MPA, DBA, is a grant writing course developer who has been consulting in the areas of grant writing, contract bid responses, and organizational development for 23 years. She has assisted clients throughout the United States in receiving awards of more than $100 million.

Read an Excerpt

Grant Writing For Dummies

By Beverly A. Browning

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-8416-2

Chapter One

Getting Smart, Getting Money

In This Chapter

* Starting with basic definitions

* Making a plan (and sticking to it)

* Talking and writing like an expert

* Knowing types of funding and formatting

* Aiming for timeliness and following up

Nearly two decades ago, I discovered the magic of grant writing. Never before had I been involved in an occupation where, every day, my job felt like that of a magician. Just imagine: taking a vision, researching it well, identifying a perfect funding match, and then writing an award-winning document. It just all seems too good to be true - write it and money will come. Early on in my grant writing days, I learned by reading and doing; I had no mentors, and resource books like this one weren't plentiful. The common sense I commandeered 20 years ago to figure it out is the common sense I use today.

Over the years, I continued to jump into the "we need funding now" fires and be the behind-the-scenes flame extinguisher for both start-up and established nonprofit organizations. Each time I discovered a special writing approach worked, I took note and mentally recorded my words, approach, research techniques, formatting, and more. At the time, I didn't know why I stored tips and skills like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter. Now I know. Every effort to catalog my experiences,successes, and failures was directed at sharing them with you.

Especially now that I've achieved a 90 to 95 percent success rate, I assure you that you can have great grant writing successes, too. Dozens of grant announcements and contract bidding opportunities are published every day. With this book, you too can get smart - and get the money - almost all the time. And in this chapter, I start you down the right path to grant writing gold with the basics of the process.

What Does It Mean? Defining Grants, Contracts, and More


A grant or cooperative agreement is a monetary award given by a funder, such as a government agency, a foundation, or a corporation. You may think that the only grants out there are those that pay for college tuition, but you're in for a surprise. Grants pay for all kinds of things. And pursuing grants is one of the most interesting occupations in the world.


A grant or cooperative agreement application is a written request asking for money from a government agency, a foundation, or a corporation. Most grants go to organizations that have applied to the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status and received the IRS's blessing as a 501 (c)(3) organization, although a few grants are given to individuals (see Chapter 7 for details). Since I've been writing grant applications, I've seen a growing number of grant awards made to cities, villages, townships, counties, and even state agencies. While none of these governmental units are IRS 501 (c)(3) designees, they're still nonprofit in structure and can apply for and receive grant awards from the federal government, foundations, and corporations.

A proposal is usually a more free-flowing grant request. It's you putting down on paper your ideas about your organization and the program you want funded. You can dash off a proposal foolishly, simply writing what pops into your mind at the time. Or you can create a proposal the smart way, using a national or regional template format (see "Putting Together and Writing a Winning Request," later in this chapter for more details).

Whether you're writing a grant application or a grant proposal, both types of funding requests require planning, organization, good research, and writing skills.


Think of contracts as cousins to grants - similar but clearly different. A contract is a legal instrument reflecting a relationship between the bid-letting agency (government unit or private sector business) and a business. The bid-letting agency is seeking to purchase services or products. The offeror, or business seeking to provide the deliverables, must respond to an RFP (Request For Proposal) or RFQ (Request For Quote) in writing and submit it by a deadline. For-profit businesses apply for and receive contract awards; nonprofit organizations apply for and receive grant or cooperative agreement awards. A grantmaking agency (such as the government, a foundation, or a corporation) can issue an RFP; a business seeking a contractual relationship with another business can issue one as well. An RFP or RFQ is very similar in format to a government grant application.

Get into Gear: Planning for Grants and Contracts

Rule number one is that you don't ask for a grant without thinking first.

You'd be surprised how many nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses lurch from one crisis to another. They never plan ahead in terms of grant seeking or contract bidding. They lack a planning tool to give them direction. What they lack is a funding plan, an internal examination of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A funding plan answers questions such as

  • What programs are strong and already have regular funding to keep them going?

  • What new programs need funding?

  • What opportunities exist to find new funding partners?

  • What existing grants will run out before new funding is found?

    When you answer these questions, you can begin to look at the multitude of areas where grants are awarded and begin to prioritize the type of funding you need. I write more about funding plans in Chapter 2.

    What's the Word I'm Looking For? Knowing Grant Language

    Before you jump into the grants fire - I think of it as a fire because the competition is hot - you need to be sure that you can speak and understand the language. The following list presents the terms and phrases that grantmakers use regularly. (In Chapter 3, I cover additional terms in the language of "Grantlish.")

  • Annual campaigns: Money to support annual operating expenses, infrastructure improvements, program expansion, and, in some cases, one-time-only expenses (such as a cooling-system replacement).

  • Building/renovation funds: Money to build a new facility or renovate an existing facility. These projects are often referred to as bricks-and-mortar projects. Building funds are the most difficult to secure; only a small percentage of foundations and corporations award grants for these types of projects.

  • Capital support: Money for equipment, buildings, construction, and endowments. These types of large-scale projects are not quickly funded. It often takes two to three years for total funding to be secured. This type of request is a major undertaking by the applicant organization.

  • Challenge monies: These funds act as leverage to secure additional grants from foundations and corporations. They're awarded by funders and are contingent upon your raising additional grant funds from other funding sources. You must use internal organizational funds to meet the challenge grant requirements.

  • Conferences/seminars: Money to cover the cost of attending, planning, and/or hosting conferences and seminars. Funding may be used to pay for all the conference's expenses, including securing a keynote speaker, travel, printing, advertising, and facility expenses, such as meals.

  • Consulting services: You may want to secure the expertise of a consultant or consulting firm to strengthen some aspect of organizational programming. For example, if you bring in a consultant to do a longrange strategic plan or to conduct training for a board of directors you're paying for consulting services.

  • Continuing support/continuation grant: If you've already received a grant award from a funder, you can turn to that funder again and apply for continuing support. Be aware that many funders only fund an organization one time.

  • Employee matching gifts: Many employers match the monetary donations their employees make to nonprofit organizations, often on a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1. If you have board members employed by large corporations, have them check with their Human Resources departments to see whether their employers have such programs.

  • Endowments: A source of long-term, permanent investment income to ensure the continuing presence and financial stability of your nonprofit organization. If your organization is always operating in crisis-management mode, then one of your goals should be to develop an endowment fund for long-term viability.

  • Fellowships: Money to support graduate and postgraduate students in specific fields. These funds are only awarded to institutions, never to individuals.

  • General/operating expenses: Money for general budget line-item expenses. These funds may be used for salaries, fringe benefits, travel, consultants, utilities, equipment, and other expenses necessary to operate a nonprofit program.

  • Matching funds: Grant funds that are awarded with the requirement that you must find other grant funding that matches or exceeds the initial grant's matching-fund stipulation. Matching funds are a type of leverage grant. To qualify for a matching funds grant award, the grant applicant must come up with matching funds. The funds can be internal (from the grant applicant organization), from a partner agency, or even from another grant funding agency.

  • Program development: Funding to pay for expenses related to organization growth, the expansion of existing programs, or the development of new programs.

  • Research: Money to support medical and educational research. Monies are usually awarded to the institutions that employ the individuals conducting the research.

  • Scholarship funds: Scholarship awards to individuals. Remember that when funds are awarded to an individual, they're considered taxable income.

  • Seed money: Most often, these types of grants are awarded for a pilot program not yet in full-scale operation; hence the term seed money. Seed money gets a program underway, but other grant monies are needed to continue the program in its expansion phase.

  • Technical (consulting) assistance: Money to improve your internal program operations. Often, this type of grant is awarded to hire an individual or firm that can provide the needed technical assistance. Alternatively, the foundation's personnel may provide the technical assistance. For example, a program officer from a foundation may work on-site with the applicant organization to establish an endowment development fund and start a campaign for endowment monies. In some instances, the funding source identifies a third-party technical assistance provider and pays the third party directly to assist the nonprofit organization.

    The following terms are used by contract bid-letting agencies:

  • Acceptance: When a bid-letting agency or business accepts the deliverables outlined by the offeror in the bidding document.

  • Deliverables: Detailed information about the services or goods the offeror plans to deliver under a contract award.

  • Financial proposal: A document separate from the scope of services proposal that outlines the offeror's cost to provide the needed services or goods.

  • Offeror: The individual or business bidding on the needed services or goods.

  • Responsiveness: When the bid-letting agency examines the offeror's contract bid proposal document to determine if all the areas in the narrative guidelines have been responded to and at what level.

  • Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Quote (RFQ): A legally prepared document issued by the bid-letting agency or business requesting a proposal or quote for services or products from qualified vendors.
  • Services proposal: A full, written description by the offeror of what will be provided should a contract be awarded by the bid-letting agency.

  • Terms and conditions: The circumstances for awarding a contract, which are developed by the bid-letting agency. You may be required to provide proof of liability insurance or to submit a list of demographics for all personnel assigned to the contract work.

    Connecting Your Needs to a Governmental Source of Funds

    Grants, grants, everyone wants a grant! You're constantly hearing about other organizations winning grant awards, but no one tells you how they found the money. Is your organization being left out in the cold - no money, no luck, and no clue? When you realize how easy it is to find and get the money you want, you'll rejoice and sing praises like everyone else.

    Conducting a funding search leads you to the money. But before you start your search, you need to know what type of grant money will fund your idea, project, or program.

    Federal government funding: Cashing in with your richest uncle

    The first place to look for money is with Uncle Sam. You always knew that you had a long-lost relative somewhere with money, right? The money (government funding) originates from the federal, state, and local levels. Using the Internet, you can locate and cash in on the available dollars. In Chapter 4, I give you the complete scoop on using the Internet to find government grants.


    Peruse the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), and then log onto The CFDA is the encyclopedia of grant and contract funding programs, which means that it doesn't tell you about open grant competitions that you can apply for at a particular time. For that information, go to Grants. gov, which gives you daily funding announcements on money you can apply for now.

    Seeking public funds closer to home

    Each state receives grant monies from the feds. After taking their fair (or unfair) share, states regrant the money to eligible agencies and organizations in the form of competitive grants or formula grants.

    Examples of some state agencies that regrant federal monies are agriculture, commerce, education, health, housing development, natural resources, and transportation. Contact your state legislator at his or her local office or at the state capitol for assistance in identifying grant opportunities within your state, and use the Internet to search for state agencies that award grants and contracts.

    The Other Pot of Gold: Looking at Foundation and Corporate Funding

    The rainfall of private-sector grant money is continuous. Private-sector funding sources are either foundations or corporations.

    Where can you find out more about these no-strings-attached grants? You can locate sources by visiting a Foundation Center Cooperating Collections site (usually at a state university library, community foundation, or other nonprofit information center) or on the Internet. The Foundation Center's Web site address is Chapter 6 has details on finding foundation and corporate grants, too.


    Using technology to find money is a good idea because it's so quick and easy. Throughout this book, you'll see lots of Web site listings.

    Discovering private and public foundations

    Private foundations get their monies from a single source, such as an individual, a family, or a corporation. Think about all the wealthy individuals who have started their own foundations, like the John Templeton Foundation or the Heinz Foundation. You can find hundreds of private foundations in the Foundation Center's online directory.

    Public foundations, on the other hand, are supported primarily through donations from the general public. That's a no-brainer, right? They also receive a great deal of their funding from foundation and corporate grants. Again, the Foundation Center's Web site can give you loads of information on these types of foundations. There are lots of public foundations focused on the arts, environment, and faith-based initiatives. Remember, there's no difference in public or private foundations when it comes to grant seeking or grantmaking.


    Excerpted from Grant Writing For Dummies by Beverly A. Browning Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Table of Contents

    Introduction 1

    Part I: Getting Started with Grant Writing 5

    Chapter 1: Grant Writing 101 7

    Chapter 2: Thinking Strategically to Improve Your Odds of Success 21

    Chapter 3: Arming Yourself with the Knowledge of What Funders Want 33

    Part II: Digging Up Grant Funding Opportunities 45

    Chapter 4: Investigating the Government Options 47

    Chapter 5: Exploring Grantsgov 59

    Chapter 6: Researching Potential Private Sector Funders 73

    Chapter 7: Finding Grant Monies for Individuals and Businesses 87

    Chapter 8: Seeking Funds for International Projects 95

    Part III: Maximizing Your Chances of Scoring a Grant Award 101

    Chapter 9: Assessing Federal Grant Opportunities for Your Agency 103

    Chapter 10: Peering into the Peer Review Process 117

    Chapter 11: Selling Your Grant Application with Storytelling 133

    Part IV: Writing to Win 143

    Chapter 12: Providing Supporting Documentation 145

    Chapter 13: Documenting Your Organization’s History and Capabilities 161

    Chapter 14: Building a Strong Statement of Need 173

    Chapter 15: Presenting the Program Design Section: The Core of Your Application 183

    Chapter 16: Managing the Management and Assets 205

    Chapter 17: Connecting the Solutions to the Budget Request Line Items 217

    Part V: Submitting Your Application and Navigating What Comes Next 239

    Chapter 18: Checking the Checklist and the Content 241

    Chapter 19: Taking the Necessary Steps after Applying 255

    Chapter 20: Moving Forward after a Win or a Rejection 263

    Chapter 21: Securing Matching Funds and Other Goodies from Corporations 273

    Part VI: The Part of Tens 281

    Chapter 22: Ten Reputation-Building Tricks 283

    Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Prove You’re an Ethical Grant Writer 289

    Chapter 24: Ten Ways to Secure Peer Review Opportunities 293

    Index 299

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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    Grant Writing for Dummies 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Grant Writing for Dummies by Beverly A. Browning has been a great starting point for me or anyone who is looking to write a grant for funding or for a home-based business for a grant writing. I am so impressed with Grant Writing for Dummies that I will be signing up for Bev's online grant writing classes for How to Become a Grant Writing Consultant & in Advanced Grant Proposal Writing. My hopes and dreams are to become a future Grant Writing Consultant.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am a professional proposal and grant writer. I work on a contract basis writing and managing proposals and grants for my clients. This is a "must-have" book for everyone who needs to know more about the business of grant writing. this book is very well organized and does not mince words about what you need to do in order to write a grant which will receive an award. I cover grant writing in my book but not as focused and as well as the author. Buy it today!You will be glad you did.
    Cal_Bibliophile More than 1 year ago
    Beverly Browning, Ph.D., brings her expertise as a successful grant writing consultant to this book, written for everyone who is interested in grant writing or who wants to improve his or her own success ratio in writing grant proposals that are funded. Her writing style is concise, informative, and easy to understand. Read this book carefully because she has much to teach her readers!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    If your looking for a grant or some financing from the Govt this is a good starting point but if it was that easy everybody would do it!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I'd never won a grant before reading this book, but now I'm confident I can find the funds I need. Ms. Browning uses plain English to explain a daunting, technical field so that even a rookie at the grant writing game can get a leg up. She turned a nebulous intimidating subject into something I really believe I can get into.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I thought reading about how to write a good grant would be boring, but it's acually really interesting. I've already written a few grants, so a lot of the information is familiar, but the tips and insight are invaulable. The writing is easy to understand, and with each section independent of the rest of the book, it's easy to find and reference the information you need the most, and skip over the chapters that don't apply. I'm really glad I bought this book and I'm excited about working on my next grant.
    LeadershipLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Comprehensive resource for grant seekers, includes information on federal grant applications, as well as private and foundation donors.
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    I am very proud of this book!