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How to write a winning grant

Free money? Yes, grant funding can be life-changing for a project or organisation but how does one even start? Writing a grant proposal can seem daunting to the inexperienced and that’s why most organisations hire a grant writer. This may seem like a cost-effective solution but many funders are now dismissing applications based on lack of authenticity and can tell if the organisation has hired a professional grant writer.

So what if we told you it’s not impossible to write it yourself? 

Sometimes professional grant writers are a brilliant choice. But modern trends suggest that an authentic voice of a company stands out far more than a paid grant writer who will do your bidding.

Why? In a world of fake and superficial, people crave the real deal. Especially if they’re giving money away for free.

Free money sounds awesome. Taking the time to write the grant is not. Most employers and employees are time-poor with hectic schedules and the tendency is to write a grant at the last second. If the grant money is transformational to your organisation, it is worth spending time to carefully approach it.

Whether you’re writing a small business grant, research grant or not-for-profit grant, it’s worth noting that in the current economic climate, grants are limited and they are extremely competitive. The difference between a winning application versus a losing application comes down to five things:

  • Quality research
  • Innovative & practical objectives
  • Measured outcomes
  • Strategic language
  • Effective budget

Without these, most grants fail to make it to the top three. If you can’t effectively communicate your case or there is inadequate research in demonstrating an understanding of your field, your application will not be given a second glance and will end up in the slush pile.

Your story is important


You have the perfect grant to kickstart an initiative or expand your organisation but you’re not sure where to start. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when the vocabulary is complex, or the criteria are extensive. Rest assured your industry knowledge places you at an advantage.

Whether a funder is a philanthropist, academic organisation, government body or commercial entity, they all want assurance that it will be a tangible return on their investment. Your voice as an individual or organisation is indispensable.

How you tell your story makes a huge difference.

Who is your audience?

All funders have an agenda and you must understand who you are pitching to.

Here are some common funding types:

Government grants can vary in agenda, but their main interest is in organisation or individuals who will follow their strategic plan or current agendas. Consider an education grant: this would require a school or organisation to research the local strategic education policy and plans within the Department of Education. Academic grant funders often seek a professional who can adhere to research agendas or further academic endeavours. Commercial funders want to show their philanthropy side whilst adhering to their corporate brand. Philanthropists often have a personal agenda that is close to their heart. Community groups like The Rotary Club support projects that impact the local or international community positively.

All funders vary in grant outcomes, but they all share one thing: passion. You must research what your funder is passionate about, whether it is the brand, policies, or strategic direction of the organisation.

Top tips for writing a solid grant

Don’t rush your application

Here’s the common problem – most people starting a grant application will often tackle the application in one to two sittings and eventually settle for just getting it finished. Breaking down the application into small chunks and taking a step-by-step approach will ensure you write a successful application.

Know your competition

You need to have a solid idea of who your competitors will be for this grant. Knowing your competition gives you valuable insight into their strengths so you can work out strategies on how to promote your organisation above theirs.  

  • Do I have any networks in my main competitor’s organisation who would share information with me?
  • What information can I glean from their website or the media?
  • How does their funding or business model/initiatives differ from mine? Can I use this to my advantage?

Identify your target group

Your grant will reach a specific group of people and this must be articulated effectively in your application. Have you researched what your target group looks like? What is your demographic?

Ask yourself if your initiative is worth investing in

Picture yourself in your funders’ shoes. Would you fund your idea? If you said ‘yes, then your idea must come across as the most innovative thing since sliced bread. You need to prove you not only have the networks to support the idea, but you also have a team that will execute the initiative or project with competence and efficiency.

Use your previous work projects as a guide to show your funder how productive and innovative you can be.

For further tips, you can enroll in our Grant writing Course online where you will:

  • Get examples from award-winning grants
  • Includes vocabulary cheat sheets
  • A step-by-step approach to easy grant writing
  • Online courses based in Australia
Here is a list of current Australian community grants on the Commonwealth Bank website:
Funding from international agencies can be found here:

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