How To Write A Grant Application

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

We have already explored what grants are in our 6 key milestone program which you can watch in our tribe app. In this article, I want to take you through an easy grant application writing process. You have local and international grants. Grants are funds allocated by a specific institution or government for a special project goal. They are often with no interest nor do you have to pay back the grant amount. But be careful. You do not have to pay back if you accomplish what you proposed during the grant approval process. Remember, where does this money come from? This is taxpayers money, so be mindful how you deal with it. 

Grant application prioritises positive social impact

I want you to remember that many grants focus on creating a social impact. Others are keen to know that profit is not the key driver or if profit making is allowed, the grant must somehow enhance the specific community. The thought process here is to create a common good that more people in the society can profit from. Organisations who give out grants, what these grants to to fund a specific project and require some level of compliance and reporting. The grant writing process involves an applicant submitting a proposal (or submission) to a potential funder, either on the applicant’s own initiative or in response to a Request for Proposal from the funder. Almost all grants are tied to specific results. 

Local grants

Local grants are those funds allocated for projects, business or ideas that happen within a specific geographical location which is often the same as where the grant giver and receiver resides. So if you are in Nigeria, a local grant would be either from the local government, foundation or the national government or grant giver. 

International grants

International grants are exactly like the local grant I explained earlier only that most international grants are more complex in nature and in application requirements. The target for international grants is for the receiver to carry out a project or idea that benefits an international audience. It is not restricted to the local or national location. Many European and US based institutions have such grants and are obliged to create new ones every year or every 3 to 5 years. See it like this. 

Many governmental organisations cannot carry out services for every detailed target group, so they contract this service to individual organisations, companies or institutions. Specifically for African entrepreneurs, there are a whole lot of international grants out there but often you will never hear about it except you are somehow connected to a network where you can get this kind of information. But most of these grants are published online and released as what is called “calls”.

Where do you start with a grant application?

  • Ideation
  • Research
  • Evaluate
  • Study technicalities
  • Write grant
  • Create Budget
  • Submit grant
  • Submit supporting documents

First of all it is important to come up with a few ideas for a project that you want to do. 

Then the next step would be to carry out an extensive research around that project idea. Your goal is to llo for both local and international grants that suit your idea. You can use keywords or phrases to search the internet. Another way to search for grants is to join your industry or sector networking events, newsletters or journals. Many grant opportunities are often published  or announced at such spaces. 

Do not forget private sector

Do not only search for government grants, but also look at the private sector. Many companies package their Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, or sponsorship as grants. How would you know? Many release a call for submission or for grant applications. Your next step is to read and study the criterias, the mission, the deadlines and information around the grant as well as around the grant application – often this information is separated. There are the grant terms and scope. Then you also have the grant application terms and requirements. 

Requirements & criteria should not discourage you

After you have studied these, you can now evaluate your project to see if it fits the mission. You should move to the technicalities later. First you want the vision you have to be suitable for the grant. Unfortunately, grants often do not cut their mission tailored to your own. So you might have to confirm with yourself if both fits. Now at this stage, if the vision and mission aligns, you have to move to the technicalities. Here you should check the requirements. The criterias are very important. Many grants require that you have a legal setup. This means that you are either a civil society organisation registered or one of the different kinds of companies. There are also grants who explicitly fund non-profits. Companies would not stand a chance even if the vision is aligned. Clarify this. 

If all fits and you meet the criterias, your next logic step is to begin with the grant application writing. Please be sure to have noted the submission deadline as this is crucial. It is always very helpful to already have a kind of business plan, idea canva or project write up before you even start writing a grant application. You can check our idea Canva to get a template of how to compose this. 

Some grant applications do come as questions. While others simply tell you to submit your own writeup. If you have questions, then thai is a good way to write your application. SImply work towards answering these questions. Answer exactly the questions asked and not beat around the bush with too much information. If you are asked to submit your own writeup without question guidelines, then be sure to create something that combines both our Idea Canva and Pitch deck. This way, you get to cover all the most important questions. 

Do not forget your numbers!

Many grants expect you to submit an accompanying budget or finance plan. Finance plan would mean that they also want to see how you will finance the project if you received just a part of the money as grants. Some grants can allow your work-time investment to be calculated in monetary value. Read the terms! You can also call the grant office to speak to one of their officers if you need to clarify information. Use our simple budget template to help you identify what might be suitable to include in your budget. We have another blog on budgeting your idea for one year. Check it out to get some tips. 

After you have written your application, created your budget or finance plan and it is good to go, submit it. While submitting, make sure to check if you need supporting documents. Supporting documents might be your CV, pictures, referees, bank statement, pitch deck, prototype, pitch video and others. Be sure to have checked everything. So at this junction, let me congratulate you for trying. However, it is important to know that the grant is a 50:50 percentage change. Like I mentioned earlier, it is taxpayers money and there is no binding obligation that you get it. So why waste your time submitting an application? Here are 3 reasons why; 

  1. The process of writing  the application will open questions about your idea and help you fine-tune. 
  2. The process to get a bank loan, trust me, is similar or even more complex. 
  3. If you get rejected for a particular grant, you can also try another grant. 

Tip to grant application: 

  1. Allow there to be enough time between when you submit and the actual deadline, just in case you will be asked to submit additional information.
  2. If you do not meet the criteria, explore ways in which you can meet the criteria. Do not simply give up. It might mean getting a new partner onboard. 
  3. After you write your application, make sure to give someone else to read. If you do not have someone who can read it, read it aloud to yourself. Use pitch deck template to answer the question of whether your grant application covers all these areas. 
  4. Emphasise why your project ideas is unique and your project is the best fit for the grant. 
  5. Be very careful to read the terms. Some grants require you to invest your one funds into the project and would only fund a specific identified percentage. 
  6. Make sure to visit the grant website if they have one to read through the past grants and project supported. This will give you an idea of what they care about. 

We would hold a general online grant application process workshop in the future, so make sure to  get our app to get the notification when it is. 

Get our app, stay in touch and lets help you develop your ideas

Still with the intention to provide more tools for you, we created our tailored all-in-one app to offer up-to-date knowledge, provide exposure for social entrepreneurs and offer coaching services. Get the app (Android version) here and for IOS users, a webapp version and IOS version is on its way, sign up for our newsletter here to know when it’s out and get the consistent ressources via email. If you need templates to develop your ideas, you can check our Joadre Tools. If you want to contact us, use our contact form or consult us  through the app. 

Thank you for reading to the end. 



I am Joana, a Nigerian-born Austrian-based entrepreneur and activist. Founded Joadre in 2012 and continue to develop content to engage and empower African SMEs.

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