Unlocking Grant Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide for NGOs and Startup Founders

June 21, 2024
min read

Dear founders, the challenge of securing funding to start or scale your operations is a common one. You might have exhausted your bootstrapped funds and are considering a loan. But what if I told you there are grant opportunities waiting for your project or business idea? You might be skeptical because you're either unaware of these funding sources or have tried unsuccessfully in the past. Whichever your situation, this blog post is your manual to turn things around. We'll guide you from obscurity to landing your first grant funding.

From Grant Oblivion to Securing Funding

1. Grant Funding Basics: What It Is and How It Works

For those unfamiliar, let's start with the basics. According to Wikipedia, a grant is a fund given by an individual or organization—often a public body, charitable foundation, specialized grant-making institution, or business with a corporate social responsibility mission—to an individual or another entity, usually a non-profit organization, sometimes a business or a local government body, for a specific purpose linked to public benefit. Unlike loans, grants are not intended to be paid back.

Breaking down the key terms:

  • An individual or organization: Grants can be awarded to a range of recipients, including individuals, non-profits, startups, or established businesses. For example, the Roddenberry Foundation funds both individuals and organizations, so there's a grant for you.
  • Non-profit organization: Most grants go to non-profits because of their charitable nature. They focus on addressing social, environmental, or economic issues and grants help them achieve their goals. USAID grants often favor NGOs.
  • A business: There are grants for for-profit businesses too, especially those with social enterprise models. These grants support innovative projects that drive economic growth and benefit the community. The Africa Business Heroes competition is a prime example.
  • For a specific purpose: Grants are not general handouts; they're awarded for specific reasons like research, project implementation, or capacity building.
  • Not intended to be paid back: Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment. Recipients are expected to use the funds for public benefits and report on progress and outcomes.

2. Tailor Your Approach to Find the Right Grant Opportunity

Now that you know grants are available, how do you secure one? The first step is to search for the grant that fits your viable business idea or impactful project. Just like you wouldn't go to a train station to board a flight, you need to search for grants in the right places, tailored to your specific needs and qualifications. Your search should be based on who you are, what you do, and what you need funding for.

Let's break this down:

  • Viable business idea: Your business idea must be innovative, solve a real problem, and have clear market demand. Ensure your idea ticks all these boxes before seeking a grant.
  • Impactful project: For NGOs, your project must create significant positive change in a community, industry, or the environment. It must be scalable and sustainable.
  • What you do: Your project's activities or your business's services/products must align with the funder's priorities. Be specific about what you will accomplish with the funding.
  • Who you are: Your credentials or your organization's track record is crucial. Highlight your expertise, experience, and past successes to stand out.
  • What you need funding for: Clearly define the specific purpose of your funding request, ensuring it aligns with what the funder supports.

Note that grants have cycles with opening periods and deadlines. Missing a grant cycle can be disastrous. Stay updated on all grant opportunities in Nigeria and Africa by using reliable resources.

3. Your Proposal is Your Key to Securing Funding

A compelling proposal is crucial for securing grant funding. It's the lifeline your application needs to survive the rigorous review process. A well-crafted proposal is not just well-written but also clear and persuasive. It should effectively communicate your project's goals, impact, and budget, showcasing how your project aligns with the funder's priorities.

Key points for a compelling proposal:

  • Well-Written: Ensure your proposal is free of jargon, clear, and concise. Use simple language to communicate complex ideas.
  • Clear Objectives: Clearly outline your project's goals and objectives. Funders need to understand what you aim to achieve.
  • Detailed Budget: Provide a comprehensive budget that explains how the funds will be used. Be transparent and realistic.
  • Alignment with Funder's Goals: Highlight how your project aligns with the funder's mission and objectives. Show that you understand their priorities and how your project fits in.

4. Consult Professional Grant Writers

Even with a strong proposal, securing grant funding can be highly competitive. Success rates for grant applications vary widely, from as low as 1 in 2,000 to as high as 20 in 2,000, depending on the grant and the competition. However, you can significantly increase your chances by consulting professional grant writers. These experts bring a wealth of experience and can provide the edge you need to stand out in a crowded field.

Why Hire a Professional Grant Writer?

Just as an experienced architect can design a lasting structure from a sketch, a professional grant writer can transform your proposal into a winning application. Here’s how they can help:

  • Expertise: Professional grant writers understand what funders look for. They have the skills to craft a proposal that aligns perfectly with the funder's requirements and priorities.
  • Attention to Detail: Grant writers are meticulous. They ensure that every aspect of your proposal is well-documented, clearly articulated, and free of errors.
  • Strategic Insights: These professionals can offer strategic advice on how to position your project or business to appeal to funders. They know what works and what doesn't based on past successes.
  • Time Efficiency: Writing a compelling grant proposal is time-consuming. A professional writer can handle this process, allowing you to focus on your core business activities.

The Impact of Professional Grant Writing

Hiring a professional grant writer can make a significant difference in your success rate. Here are some key impacts:

  • Increased Chances of Success: Professional grant writers can boost your winning chances substantially. Their expertise in creating compelling narratives and detailed budgets helps your proposal stand out.
  • Reduction of Common Mistakes: Many grant applications fail due to common mistakes such as lack of clarity, insufficient detail, or not meeting funder criteria. Professionals know how to avoid these pitfalls.
  • Enhanced Proposal Quality: A well-written proposal not only increases your chances of securing funding but also establishes your credibility and professionalism with funders.


Securing grant funding is within your reach! 

By following the steps outlined in this guide—understanding what grant funding is, finding the right opportunity, crafting a compelling proposal, and seeking professional help—you can significantly increase your chances of success. Start your journey to securing your first grant funding today by considering the invaluable assistance of a professional grant writer. Their expertise and strategic insights could be the key to unlocking the funding you need to bring your project or business to the next level. 

Do you need an expert to help with your next Grant?
Yes please!