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The “Perfect” Grant Application

Spoiler alert: There is no perfect grant application or proposal.

It does not exist.

BUT this article will give you some insights that will help you move closer to perfection.

The very first, most important thing to know is: Follow The Directions!

Give yourself enough time to be thorough and not rushed. If you’re hurrying to make a deadline, you’ll make mistakes. Answer the questions clearly, concisely, and completely. Answer the question being asked. Don’t use a lot of jargon. If your organization or program does not match the foundation’s areas of interest, do not apply.

Remember that your grant maybe reviewed by individuals who don’t know your organization or program. Be clear and concise. Resist the urge to use every single character or word allotment.

Grant proposals submitted to community foundations and other pass-through funders have panels of volunteers who review, score, and make recommendations on proposals submitted. It’s to your benefit to understand the process and the scoring procedure. Ask questions ahead of time.

A common mistake I see all too often is copying and pasting the same response to multiple grant applications. Don’t just copy the text from another grant that has a similar question. Grant applications and proposals are read by people who understand the difference between a thoughtfully carefully crafted answer and one that is copied and pasted from another grant application.

Another area where grant applications fall short is the attachments. Foundations ask for a lot of information that is not included in the grant application form. They want to see your operating budget, your audit, your board of directors’ roster, and more. Make sure you are sending what is asked for and in the format requested.

This may be stating the obvious, but make sure your attached financials and your narrative tell the same story. Check out my article on Creating Your Grants Ecosystem HERE.

Foundations receive scores if not hundreds of grant applications per funding cycle. Applications that are missing attachments or are incomplete in any way are eliminated immediately.

Lastly, don’t be discouraged if your proposal is not funded. No matter how good your application, funders never have enough to award every application. Keep submitting your proposals and get to know your program officer. Eventually, your proposal may be awarded.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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