The Reviewer’s Guide To Grant Writing

The College Park Community Foundation is entering its fourth grant cycle, thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors. After three rounds of grant-making, here’s our top tips for writing a successful grant application.

  1. Introduce Yourself. Especially in small communities like College Park, it’s tempting to assume that the reviewer is already familiar with your organization. Maybe you even know several members of the board. But this can be difficult, as most grant-making organizations strive for fairness in doling out their funds. That means reviewers who score your application may be asked to use only what’s presented in the application. So even if you think those folks already know it, sing your own praises, tout your accomplishments, and brag a little. Bonus points if you can quantify it with numbers.

  2. Make the Connection. Before you start filling out a form or writing an application, take a moment to jot down one or two sentences about what the funder is looking for. Then write another 1-2 sentences about how your organization or the project for which you are seeking funding fits into those goals. Doing that first will take less than ten minutes, and will help you frame the entire application in a way that is compelling to the reviewer.

  3. Give ‘Em What They Want. Even for small grants, it’s worth the time to go through the grant application after you’ve finished writing. CPCF has a short document that describes the eligibility and rules for our grant-making program. Most RFPs will have something similar. Take some time to walk through those guidelines and make sure you’ve hit them all in your application. Some folks find it helpful to physically check them off with a pen.

  4. Run the Numbers. CPCF isn’t the only grant-maker with a ceiling on what you can ask for. Make sure your request is under the max ceiling. If your overall project will be more than the maximum you can request, specify exactly what parts of the budget the grant will support. Some organizations require that you indicate how your organization will make up for the balance of funds needed to execute your project.

  5. Spell Check, then Check Again. Some reviewers might get cranky after reading through dozens of applications with spelling or grammatical errors. Make their lives a bit easier by making your application as easy to read as possible. If you know that you are prone to make mistakes, plan ahead for a friend or colleague to read through the document before you submit.

  6. If You Don’t Know, Ask. CPCF’s mission is focused on giving away grant funds to worthy charitable projects that make College Park a great place to live. Knowing that, if you’re unsure about whether your organization or project qualifies, if the application is not clear, or if you are not sure about anything, reach out to us to ask! We’re here to help!

CPCF’s 2016 grant application is due July 31, 2016.  For more information, visit us at, follow us on Twitter: @collegeparkfdn or email us at