How to write a winning grant application

As a charity, you’ll be writing many grant applications over the years, which we hope are more successful than not. As a specialist charity insurance company, Ansvar judges a lot of grant applications through our various charitable campaigns and programmes. We wanted to help your chances by sharing what we think is a strong case for support, to increase your chances of winning.

Read their requirements

This might seem almost too simple to note, but from experience, we’ve seen that some charities haven’t taken the time to read and fully understand what’s required. Not every grant application is the same, and not every grant opportunity is suitable for you. Make sure you read their guidelines carefully, so you don’t end up wasting time writing something for a grant you’ll never win. Many applications may get automatically rejected if they are over the word count, miss a field, or are for a cause outside of the donors’ set parameters.

Applications will also vary in formality and length. Don’t send them a 3-page essay on why you should be chosen when they have only asked for 250 words! More is not always better.

Planning and research are key

The amount of planning and research you can do to support your application can vastly improve your chances of being chosen. Make sure you have the right person in the role of ‘grant application writer’ who will have the time and resource to put the care needed into each and every submission, and that their colleagues understand this person’s role and can offer the support they need, such as data and figures.

You could run service user surveys to find out exactly where your charity could improve, to provide evidence of your need for this grant. This will be really valuable information to support your application.

And make your own tick list so you can track that you’ve included all of the information the application requires.


Putting your well researched information together in a clear, concise, grammatically correct, and appropriate format takes skill. The main thing you need to do here is demonstrate the value you offer to your local, and wider community, what the grant will be used for, and how it will change things for those you support. Do your best to provide quantifiable markers of success.

Of course, you may be limited with word-count but if you can, include a short mission statement with what your charity strives to achieve and where you are now. You need to create a compelling case for the donors’ support, so they feel compelled to choose you! Creating a connection between you and the people reading your grant is really important.


Once you’ve ticked off all the information required as part of your application, it’s time to read it back, have someone else read it through and sign-off if possible, (to pick up on any mistakes), ensure you have all of the facts straight, and you’ve clearly articulated why you should be picked above everyone else.

Once you are happy with the piece, make sure you submit it within the deadline, to the correct place, and start the whole process again, searching for your next opportunity to apply elsewhere!

Written by Sarah Cox, Managing Director of charity insurance specialist Ansvar

    Share Story:

Recent Stories

How is the food and agricultural crisis affecting charity investment portfolios?
Charity Times editor, Lauren Weymouth, is joined by Jeneiv Shah, portfolio manager at Sarasin & Partners to discuss how the current pressures placed on agriculture and the wider food system is affecting charity investment portfolios.