If you are running a non-profit organization, one of the primary limiting factors is whether or not you can secure funding. There are two primary ways to do this: either by private donations or by winning a grant. Grant writing can be daunting, a step-by-step approach and a bit of attention to detail can make the process easier and help keep the proposal on track. Here is a selection of tips from experts.

Don’t go it alone, seek an experienced mentor

When considering acquiring grant funding, it is best to seek out a mentor experienced with grant writing and who has successfully won grants (in particular, the grant you are applying for) in the past. A mentor can guide you through the process, share with you copies of their grants which have been previously funded. A mentor’s knowledge of what a grantor is looking for can be a key factor in setting yourself apart from many other applicants.

Do your homework before applying for grants

Ensure that your organization’s mission aligns with that of the grant organization. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to reach out to the organization with specific questions. Know in advance what kind of documents are expected from you so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. Ensure you have done all necessary research so that your proposal in as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Budget your time accordingly. Spend half of your grant writing time on the specific aims and proposal. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask your recommenders for letters or compile required supporting materials from different departments.

Get second (and third) opinions prior to submission

It is impossible to both write and review a grant by yourself. Simply because of your familiarity with the material, you will miss simple errors and possible issues in clarity. It is important to ask colleagues with fresh eyes to review your completed application. It is even advisable to have people not connected to your proposal to read the grant. They can help you to identify questions you may not have previously considered and improve clarity.

Remember your audience

Remember that your grant reviewers may all be from different backgrounds and have different expertise. This can be especially true for scientific grants. Your proposal should appeal to a broad but educated audience. Avoid using jargon and be explicit, remembering that your reviewers may not be versed in the literature and terminology of your field or organization.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it the first time around

Unless your organization has a prior relationship with grantors, there is a high likelihood that you may have to apply again. Regardless of whether you are awarded the grant or not, you will receive feedback from your reviewers. Use this to your advantage and keep this feedback in mind when you reapply for the grant in the next cycle. It could even be useful in grant writing for other organizations.