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SWK 421: Methods of Social Work Practice III [Grant Writing]: Tips for writing a Grant

Grant Writing Support

Advice on writing a grant

Cover all of your bases

  • Clearly delineate your idea in the Abstract
    • Scope, Sequence, Intent
  • Clearly define the Problem
    • What?
    • Who?
    • How?
  • State Goals and Objectives
    • Are they measurable?
    • Attainable?
    • Do they include milestones?
  • Include Theoretical Framework
    • Used to evaluate outcomes
  • Include how grant's goals and objectives will be evaluated
  • Include a Budget

Five Common Mistakes


1. Ill-defined problem

Do you understand the problem you are trying to address? Can you explain it clearly to the person who is reading the grant application and who may not have any knowledge of your organization's mission or purpose?

2. Copying and pasting large portions from one section to another (repeating too much of the same information)

If you simply copy and paste large chunks of information from one section to the next, you lose your audience. Don't repeat yourself. Be more creative than that.

3. A budget that is not clear, or that does not total to the amount requested

Have you thought out how to spend the money if you get it? Are you asking for "supplies/consumables" that most funding organizations would expect you to be able to pay for as part of your regular budget? Are you asking for items that would outlive the grant for an unreasonable amount of time, but have not addressed how you would pay for maintenance, repairs, etc. after the grant funding stops? Does your math add up?

4.  Lack of a viable, concrete solution that is clearly explained

Does your grant read like you are throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something sticks? Does it read like it was written the day before it was due? Does it have grammar or spelling errors?

As you work with your team to write the grant proposal, does everyone have the same vision and goals? Or is the team leaving it all to one person to define the problem and layout the objectives? If you are planning education outreach activities, and are requesting funding for additional staffing, how are you going to pay for the staffing when the money runs out? If you are asking for funding of a website, brochures, supplies, additional phones, etc. for an awareness campaign, how will you maintain the momentum gained after the grant is finished? If you are asking for funding for new beds for a shelter, who will pay utilities, maintenance, etc. when the funding is gone? 

5. A lack of clear direction

If the grant application doesn't convince the funding organization that you have a mission and a goal that is both practical and clearly defined for the audience, they won't fund it. Be specific about objectives, milestones, and outcomes.

The team Structure


How will the team decide how to write the grant? Will each person provide information to one person in charge of putting it all together in one coherent package?

Or will the team meet together on a regular basis to research, discuss ideas, and write the grant together?

Each person on the grant writing team should have a clearly defined role to play.

Brainstorm ideas on how to research and then write the grant proposal.

  • What do you know about the grant funding organization?
  • What information might you need to support your proposal ideas? 
  • Who will be the budget analyst?
  • Who will be in charge of researching the literature?
  • Who will be the proof reader?

DON'T leave it all to one or two people, and DON'T wait until the last minute.