Writing BIG grant applications

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Big grant applications are a league of their own. Now when I say big, I’m not talking about applications which might take you a day. I’m talking about those big, nightmare applications, where each of the Selection Criteria require responses of around 1,000 words. The ones where the character count drives you crazy. The ones that are typically for Federal Government, and are for at least $500,000, but usually well into the millions. These are what I consider big grant applications.

If you’re reading this and know what I mean by these applications, then you don’t need more grant writing tips. You already know what you’re doing when it comes to grants (well hopefully anyway!). But I do think you deserve some encouragement, and possibly some self-care tips 😉

You are gutsy for even writing this application. Most people don’t attempt them. They’re a league of their own and require skill, stamina and high levels of motivation.

Take breaks. This is so important. You will not be able to do your best work if you’re not taking breaks. For a short break, maybe get up, have a stretch, take a walk around your building, talk to someone and then get back into it. For a longer break, if at all possible, get outside. Writing for hours and hours on a screen is not actually that healthy. The fresh air will wake you up and be good for your soul (and eyes!).

Stay hydrated. If you’re anything like me, you will drink copious amounts of coffee while working on these big applications. Don’t forget to balance that out with water. Personally, lightly sparking is my favourite 😀

While you’re the person allocated to writing the application, remember that the whole application is not your responsibility (well it shouldn’t be anyway). Organisations applying for grants of this size should have various departments having input into the application, by providing overviews of the program/project, designs, costings, consultation reports, statistics and data, business plans etc., plus the necessary supporting documentation. If Fred in Finance is holding you up on figures, move onto the next section until you can plug that information in. Work out what you can do, not what you can’t do.

We all know that big applications should be prepared with a reasonable lead time, however many of us have also been there when someone makes a last minute decision that ‘we need to apply for that’. If you haven’t faced this yet, prepare yourself for when you do! If you find yourself in a situation where the application is being prepared last minute, remember:

  • Give your CEO the heads up that an application will be on their desk for sign off at 2pm Friday, and cc their PA into the email - this is vital!

  • Write a list of every document and piece of supporting evidence you need for the application. Ask people to send you exactly what you need as soon as possible after finding out you will be preparing the application. Give them a deadline and check off what you have when it arrives. That way, you can easily see who you still need to chase up.

  • Cut and paste from previous applications wherever possible, but CHECK EVERYTHING FOR RELEVANCY. You do NOT want an application making reference to a totally difference project if you have copied sociodemographic data from a previous application.

  • Allocate someone to proofreading.

  • Triple check your budget. Last minute applications are notorious for budgets which don’t add up.

Get that application submitted and celebrate! Do something big or do something small, but do something to celebrate your achievement (preferably before the adrenaline wears off!).

Founder & Managing Director

Jessie Ballantyne

Founder & Managing Director