7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes (that could cost you funding)

Grant Writing Tips and Best Practices
7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes (that could cost you funding)

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7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes (that could cost you funding)

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Your nonprofit is grant ready. You have a list of grantmakers to approach. And now it is time to put the grant application together. It can be overwhelming. So how do you know what to include in the grant application?

Here is a hint. Most grantmakers have guidelines and regulations you must follow. Use their guidelines as a guide for the grant application. And avoid these 7 common grant writing mistakes. They could cost you funding.


7 Common Grant Writing Mistakes

1. Excessive budget items/cost – Grantmakers don’t like applications with excessive budgets. They want to do the most good with their money.

2. Padded budget – Do not ask for more money than the nonprofit needs for the proposed project/program. Grantmakers require you to spend all the money or give the extra funds back. Nonprofits cannot use the extra money on other projects/program.

3. Budget and narrative not consistent – Consistency throughout the entire grant application is vital for a successful application.

4. Miscalculations – These can be forgivable if it is just once or twice, but do not count on it. If the proposal is full of miscalculations, it shows the grantmaker the nonprofit does not care enough to double check the work.

5. Missing information and/or attachments – Not all grant applications have the same requirements for their grant applications, but most grantmakers give you guidelines or an application to follow.

6. Not following the same order provided by the grantmaker – Again follow the guidelines provided by the grantmaker

7. Proposal not consistent – An inconsistent proposal shows a grantmaker the nonprofit does not have a clear plan for their funding.


Do you see a theme with the common mistakes?

Grantmakers want to see that the nonprofit has thought through their project/program.

Four of the common mistakes have to do with the budget. Grantmakers want to know where their money will be going. The other three common mistakes have to do with guidelines. If the Grantmaker gives you guidelines, they expect you to follow them. Grant writing is not a creative writing exercise.

Grantmakers may throw out your application when they notice mistakes. Committing any of the above-mentioned mistakes could cost your nonprofit funding for the proposal, so be sure to use these 5 tips for editing your proposal.


What have you learned from committing a grant writing mistake?

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About The Author
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies from Ball State University, Bethany Turner got her start in the grant professional as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2011. Since becoming a grant professional, Bethany has worked with six different organizations securing more than a million dollars in federal, state, and private foundation funds. These grant monies have been awarded for disaster response and rebuilding, humanitarian aid, grief counseling, arts and culture, arts education, drama therapy, historic preservation, and higher education. In 2015, Bethany earned a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from Western Kentucky University. Bethany serves as a Grant Consultant for DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC. Bethany became a Grant Professional Certified in October of 2016


  • By LESA KAYE HOLTHAM 11 Oct 2017

    This is a great article! Most importantly, 4/7 mentioned common grant writing mistakes are budget related. It’s often lost the importance of budget development in the grant writing process.

  • By Linda 11 Oct 2017

    Examples of an “excessive” budget and “inconsistent” proposal would be helpful. I think I know what is meant by these terms, but I’ve been at it 20 years.

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