4 Qualities to Look for in Grant Applications


Filtering through grant applications is a tedious process, particularly when the submissions are rather dry. It’s vital to know the qualities to look for in grant applications when you’re faced with this often large and always important process. 

Where should you start? Ask for details on these key factors when you’re launching your grant application process to elicit richer and more informative responses.

Collaborative partnerships

The success of a business or community-minded endeavor is typically dependent on several participants. While the individual or organization seeking your grant may be well-placed to execute the initial stages of the project, it’s likely that other organizations, suppliers, and corporate partners will come into play in later stages of growth. Look for applicants that are part of a strong network.

Having the right connections in place will ensure that a small business or organization has the support it needs to overcome hardships and make the best use of your startup grant. If you’re offering a grant for a nonprofit organization, its collaborative partnerships may determine how the resources gathered through a particular project are ultimately distributed and used. Inquire specifically on your grant applications about the collaborative partnerships in place to get useful insights into this area.

Powerful case studies

Look for grant applications that dive deeper than the facts and statistics and truly tell a story. This is particularly important for nonprofit grants. Seek out applications that tell a compelling story of how the project will enhance the community. Ask for a case study that demonstrates how the service or resource has had a meaningful impact on an individual or family in need.

Interviews with program participants or photos of successful community events can add depth to the proposal. This will give you a better feel for how the project is laid out and what it will ultimately accomplish. Structure your application to make room for these types of submissions.

Realistic timelines

Every grant application should present a clear timeline detailing when and how the funds will be used. If you’re providing business grants, look for an outline that includes all the essential stages of building a small business. This includes setting up an office, retail, or manufacturing space, developing products, purchasing or leasing equipment, hiring personnel, and launching marketing campaigns.

Make sure the timeline you receive doesn’t skip any important steps. Check carefully to ensure that the progress is ambitious yet realistic. You don’t want your funds to languish as the entrepreneur fumbles through the startup steps, but you shouldn’t pour money into applicants who have wildly unrealistic expectations either. The right balance is vital.

Alignment with key objectives

A key part of the grant management process is setting goals. As a grant administrator, you should have a solid understanding of what your organization wants to accomplish with each grant. Structure your applications so you’ll gain all the information you need to determine whether the applicant’s proposal is aligned with your objectives.

If your goal is to support the development of sustainable technologies, each proposal should outline a specific invention that will further your efforts to protect the environment. Also, let’s say your grant(s) are seeking to fund small businesses that promote access to healthy food in urban areas. Your application should ask how the applicant plans to avoid furthering the problem of low quality food choices in inner cities. Don’t settle for tenuous connections to your organization’s goals. Make sure the associations between the project’s objectives and your own are strong.

Of course, there are many more qualities to look for in grant applications than the ones listed above—but this is a great start on the way to selecting the applications that will create the most impact while hitting your objectives and parameters.