Grants are a vital source of funding when getting a business off the ground or expanding to a new level of operations. As the economy recovers from the recession of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that the recovery has not extended to everyone, leaving behind companies led by founders from underrepresented backgrounds. EnrichHER’s Founder, Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, has raised over $3 million through grants in her career and helped companies fundraise $14 million.
To help you bridge the gap and start turning rejections into success, we’d like to share three tips on writing winning grant applications.
1) Use Compelling Stories to Catch (and Keep) the Reviewer’s Attention
Grant applications often require a written component, such as a business plan, a personal statement, or a proposal. Although it is tempting to focus on explaining the nuts and bolts of your business or your financial projections, this is not the most effective route.
Human beings are wired to remember stories rather than numbers. Stories are more compelling, more memorable, and easier to understand. You should use figures to support and complement your story, but you’ll have a greater chance of success if you weave elements of your story throughout the proposal.
In a way, it’s helpful to think of your proposal as if you were writing a page turner. Your goal is to hook the reader at the beginning and keep them so invested in your story that they can’t look away until they’ve reached the end.
2) Get Feedback on Your Application Before Submitting It
It is always helpful to have another set of eyes to look over your proposal. Since you’ve spent so many hours poring over every word, your brain will automatically correct typos or grammatical errors before you have a chance to notice them.
Having someone else review your proposal can also help improve the content in other important ways. Friends or colleagues can tell you which parts stood out to them most, which areas were unclear, and what questions they had that weren’t addressed. Their comments will help you pinpoint which elements of your story are most compelling so you can lean into them at the beginning.
Seek Reviewers with a Variety of Perspectives
In addition to enlisting friends who are familiar with your business, you should recruit people who don’t understand what you do at all. Since you’re in the weeds of your business every day, things that seem clear to you may be confusing to someone on the outside. Feedback from “blind” readers will be particularly valuable if the panelists reviewing your application do not have a strong knowledge of your specific industry or business model.
Looking for personal feedback from experts who can help you refine your story? Enroll in EnrichHER’s Business Finance Accelerator to gain access to office hours and opportunities for one-on-one feedback on your grant proposals.
3) Focus on the Impact of the Grant Funds, Not Your Need For Them
Everyone needs money– that’s why they’re applying for the grant! To make yourself stand out, focus on how the grant funds will make a positive impact on you. For example:
- Will the grant let you develop an online course to continue bringing in revenue for your business while consumer spending is low?
- Will adding another part-time employee let you double sales?
- Does purchasing a larger amount of inventory lead to greater profits?
- Will the funds make the difference between keeping your doors open and shutting down? If so, how will your work impact your customers’ lives or the surrounding community?
In short, tell what you’re going to do with the funds and how these strides will impact the ultimate success of your business. When two applicants have a similar business model or serve the same market, the significance of the impact can be the factor that tips a decision in your favor.
The path to obtaining funding for your business isn’t easy. There will be failure and rejection along the way. But you have the grit, determination, and persistence to get to the one “Yes” that will make all the difference for you and your business.
Looking for $5,000+ Grants?
Need money for your business? Apply for Small Business Grant funding from EnrichHER. Our no-strings-attached grants are designed to help historically underrepresented founders take their business to the next level.
EnrichHER is a financial technology platform that matches revenue-generating companies led by women and founders of color to individual and institutional sources of funding. Since 2017, EnrichHER has deployed upwards of $4 million through its platform and matched business-owners to $13 million in working capital through its Accelerator. By providing capital, coaching, and connections, we are fueling the fastest-growing demographic of business owners. Our network has engaged with over 23,000 advocates through its digital community and in-person activations.