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Grant Writing

Tips for articulating your ideas and finding funding

Grant writing, very simply put, is the process of connecting people who want to give with people who have a project that they want funded. The two big obstacles for funding your project is to articulate your ideas and to find organizations willing to fund your project.

There are several reason people and organizations donated their time, talents and funds to libraries.

The Minnesota Toolkit for giving (  suggests these motivations for giving:clipart money exchanging hands

  • To help fulfill your life’s goals and passions
  • To feel a sense of value and satisfaction
  • To leave a lasting imprint on society while making a significant difference
  • To perpetuate a certain viewpoint or philosophy
  • To unite family members around a purposeful mission
  • To honor or memorialize a friend or loved one
  • To give something back to a community
  • To fulfill a responsibility or desire to be a leader in a community
  • To connect with others who share our interest and passions
  • To benefit from tax advantages
  • To express gratitude or the say “thank you”

 Articulate Your Ideas

Writing a successful grant proposal
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Minnesota Council on Foundations has put together a common grant application form.  Using this form will help you think through your grant application.  From this basic grant application you may then begin to tweak the application for the specific grant for which you are applying.


Finding Funding
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Created by the Michigan State University Libraries, this website is slanted toward Michigan, but contains good information for any library.  Go to “Grants for Nonprofits” and click on a subject.  Please do not limit your search to “libraries” but also look at children and youth, art and culture, computer technology and others subjects.

Basic Tips For The First Time Applicant

Used with permission of Indiana State Library

Ask for Advice
Start on the application well before the deadline. Take advantage of the grant organization program officer.  Ask colleagues to review the application and offer suggestions.

Identify Projects
Identify projects that would be of benefit to your organization before looking for grants.  Ways to do this include: conducting a meeting of stakeholders and brainstorming; create a file of ideas submitted by staff and patrons.  Also, solicit ideas from the community.  Determine what ideas would be most suitable for grant funding.  Be ready when funding opportunities arise instead of reacting to the announcement of available grants.

Identify Grantors
Locate grant-making organizations with goals that match your project.  Using various tools, identify grantors who fund projects similar to your proposed project.

Research the Grantors
Read the guidelines to determine if the project fits the mission of the granting organization and if there are any restrictions that may prohibit you from accepting the funds.  Learn about previous grants awarded by the organization.  Determine the funding limits and if the amount of money being offered will cover the cost of your project.

Follow Instructions
Check deadlines.  Answer all the questions and include all the necessary parts of the proposal or applications when submitting it.

Don’t Give Up
Don’t give up if the application isn’t funded.  If possible, ask for reasons why the grant application was refused.  Ask about any opportunities for resubmitting the grant.  Consider other funding sources.

Avoid the Two Common Mistakes
New applicants make two common mistakes.  One is including too little detail about the proposed project and insufficient justification for the significance of the problem.  Another is proposing more work than can be reasonably done during the grant period.

Think Like a Reviewer
One of the best ways to learn how to write a grant is to participate on a grant review committee.  Organizations that offer publicly funded grants are always looking for individuals willing to assist in grant reviews.

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