10 practical grant and tender writing tips for not-for-profit organisations

Grant and tender writing can be challenging for people in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector who are more accustomed to project management or client facing roles. Over the last couple of years, we’ve supported many NFPs to submit high quality grant and tender applications across topic areas from mental health, alcohol and other drugs, health and wellbeing, disability, employment, and many more!

Based on our experience in seeing the good, bad and ugly of grant and tender writing, we’ve compiled a list of super practical tips for not-for-profit organisations to ponder prior to ripping in to their next grant or tender application.

Let's get into it! 

1. Define the issue, present the solution, describe your strengths.

As we’ve talked about again and again over the last couple of months. Preparation is key to any competitive process - know your community, know your solution and understand how you are best placed to deliver the concept.

2. Write to the selection criteria (no-brainer).

Having spent time on selection panels in our previous lives, it is mind blowing how simple this piece of advice is. So make sure you answer the selection criteria directly and in the section that you are supposed to!

3. Take the time to map out your submission. Use bullet points and predict word count (allocated word count = value).

The worst thing you can do at the start of a tender process is charge off at a pace with no regard for word limits. Scaling an application back is absolutely painful, so plan your application out in great detail prior to pressing the green button.

4. Involve your team in planning the submission. Diversity of expertise is a good thing (e.g. planning vs. operational).

If you are successful (fingers crossed), someone in your organisation will have to operationalise the service model or project. Involve them early or risk being on the receiving end of a botched implementation process.

5. Shoot for continuity - one submission, one voice.

Completely okay to source wording from around the office - but at some point someone needs to sit down and stamp their style on the final copy. Last thing you want is an application that reads in a number of voices and is a little off kilter. 

6. Use headers to help funders find relevant content easily and quickly

Tell the funder what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them you told them (okay, maybe a bit overboard?!). In all seriousness, way-finders in grant and tender applications are a godsend for people on a selection panel - please use headers.

7. Get someone external to the process to review the submission (scoring it against the criteria).

If you have the luxury of time, running a ‘mock’ scoring process is the perfect way to identify gaps or issues with your proposal. The trick is having the time to be able to fix them.

8. Use your program logic to develop a budget and establishment plan (with internal support).

Approaching accountants to cost projects can be incredibly painful if they have to trawl through a document and try and figure out what the heck you are proposing. Use a program logic tool to quickly articulate your activities and outputs, makes costing them a lot easier.

9. Continually keep your organisation's profile up-to-date (inclusive of corporate governance, practice frameworks, risk management and organisational structure).

This one takes a lot of time and resourcing but if you have the luxury to do so, this will save you headaches well into the future.

10. Always seek feedback and maintain a strong relationship with the funder.

Never burn bridges, ask intelligent questions, be genuinely interested in how to make it work next time!

Stay tuned for more blog posts in our Get Funded blog series, perfect for NFP organisations to better understand the ins and outs of securing funding for their organisation. Happy grant and tender writing! :)

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About Beacon Strategies - We are a mission-based health and social services consultancy committed to supporting organisations to effectively plan, design, implement and evaluate their projects and services. Submit the form below to contact Mitchell Stalker (Beacon Strategies Director) about how we can support your not-for-profit organisation .

Not ready to talk just yet? Feel free to explore our portfolio of not-for-profit work by clicking the link below.