Your grant narrative helps reviewers and funders understand who you are and how you will be successful at meeting the goals they set in the funding announcement. Your narrative helps convey your ability to complete the project or reach the outcomes. The narrative section is where you join ideas together like the needs you documented, the gaps in services you identified, and the solutions you are creating to get better outcomes.

In the world of grant writing, crafting a compelling narrative is key to capturing the attention of funders and securing the funding your project deserves. A strong narrative has the power to engage readers, convey the significance of your project, and inspire funders to invest in your cause. In this blog post, we will explore essential tips and strategies for crafting a compelling narrative that will elevate your grant writing to new heights.

How to Write A Grant Narrative

Crafting a high-scoring grant application requires careful attention to several key elements that showcase your organization’s strengths and align with the funder’s priorities. A strong application not only increases your chances of success but also demonstrates your organization’s competence and capacity to deliver on its promises. 

For a reviewer, a high-scoring grant application is one that: 

  • Has no or few fatal flaws 
  • Meets the requirements
  • Provides proof of eligibility
  • Has a strong implementation plan
  • Addresses the criteria directly 

From a reviewer’s perspective, reading a bad narrative takes more time and energy because you have to hunt for answers that should be readily available. If you follow the tips in this blog post you will make your reviewers happy by developing a narrative that they’ll love.

10 Tips for a Stronger Grant Narrative

To set your application apart and make it stand out in a competitive grant competition use these techniques when you develop your grant narrative:

  1. Understand Your Audience: Take time to study your audience, the grant reviewers. Reviewers expect your application to strategically address all evaluation criteria outlined by the funder. Each section of your proposal should be designed to score maximum points with reviewers, ensuring that every aspect is well-thought-out and presented clearly.
  2. Clearly Define the Problem or Need: Articulate the problem or need your project aims to address in a concise and compelling manner. Clearly highlight the significance and urgency of the issue, painting a vivid picture of the current needs and gaps. 
  3. Tell a Story: Storytelling is a powerful tool in grant writing. Take the reviewers on a journey by sharing real-life stories, personal experiences, or case studies that demonstrate the impact of your work. Connect emotionally with the readers, allowing them to empathize with the individuals or communities your project seeks to serve. Make your narrative relatable and memorable. This technique is highly dependent on your audience as some grants (such as federal grants) may not allow space for long vignettes or stories.
  4. Showcase Your Organization’s Expertise and Track Record: Highlight your organization’s accomplishments, expertise, and track record of success. Discuss past projects, partnerships, and the positive outcomes achieved. Provide evidence of your organization’s ability to effectively implement and manage projects, instilling confidence in the reviewers about your project’s feasibility and potential for success. Your ability to complete the work required by the grant is critical to get funded.
  5. Clearly Outline Your Goals and Objectives: Clearly define your project’s goals and objectives in a concise and measurable manner. Describe the specific outcomes and impact you aim to achieve through your project. Many grants require you to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals format to demonstrate the feasibility of your project plan.
  6. Build Strong Partnerships: Highlight any collaborations or partnerships that strengthen your project’s credibility and potential for success. Discuss how you plan to engage stakeholders, leverage community resources, or collaborate with other organizations to achieve your goals. 
  7. Avoid Technical Flaws: Thoroughly review and edit your application to ensure there are no technical errors, inconsistencies, or omissions. A well-structured, error-free proposal enhances your credibility and professionalism. Technical flaws are anything a reviewer might see as a mistake that could lead to poor implementation or a part of your proposal that is not well-developed. Since reviewers are likely experts in your field, it is important that you have your experts review your application before submission as well.
  8. Emphasize Sustainability and Long-Term Impact: Funders are interested in projects that have a lasting impact beyond the grant period. Clearly articulate how your project will be sustainable in the long run and how it will continue to benefit the community even after the grant funding ends. The 8 Dimensions of Sustainability model can help you describe your sustainability plan and articulate the steps you will take to ensure lasting success.
  9. Use Clear and Convincing Language: Craft your narrative using clear, concise, and persuasive language. Avoid jargon and technical terms that may confuse the reader. Edit and proofread your narrative meticulously to ensure clarity and coherence.
  10. Organize Your Information with Headers: Using formatting to draw attention to statements and transition between ideas will help reviewers scan your narrative. The easier it is for them to see you have addressed the criteria the easier it is to award you points for doing so. Use clear headers, bold, charts, and italics to format information that is important. Be sure to follow the guidelines for formatting given in the funding announcement. 
Woman in orange writing in a notebook with teal background and black letters reading" The Ultimate Guide to Write a Standout Grant Narrative. This blog post is for anyone who wants to learn grant writing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grant Writing

Beyond these tips, you might have a few questions about writing a winning grant application and how to structure your narrative. Let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about grant writing.

How do you write a compelling grant? 

Crafting a compelling grant begins with a deep understanding of your project’s mission, goals, and target audience. Your grant narrative should give your audience all the information they need to want to give you money.

Start by clearly defining the problem your project aims to address and the solutions you propose. Use data, statistics, and first-hand information from the population you serve to back your claims and demonstrate the significance of your work. Showcase your organization’s expertise and track record of successful initiatives to build trust and credibility with funders. Funders want to know that you’re ready, able, and willing to do the work required to get grant funding.

Consider the funder’s priorities and align your narrative with their objectives. Research the funder’s previous grant awards to gain insights into their preferences and areas of focus. 

Tailoring your narrative to fit the funder’s interests increases the relevance and appeal of your proposal. Never submit the exact same application for multiple grant competitions. Rather, have a ready-to-use grant template like our Notion Grant Writing Template that you can tailor for every specific grant competition you apply to. 

How long should a narrative be for a grant? 

Grant narratives typically range from 3 to 10 pages, but it’s essential to prioritize quality over quantity.

The length of a grant narrative can vary depending on the funder’s guidelines and the complexity of your project. However, as a general rule, aim for a concise and focused narrative that covers all essential aspects without overwhelming the reader. 

Convey your ideas effectively using plain language writing techniques or clear and concise language. Avoid jargon and technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. Instead, focus on presenting a coherent and engaging narrative that demonstrates the potential impact of your project.

What is a narrative in a grant application?

In a grant application, the narrative is the section that provides a detailed description of your project, its objectives, methods, and expected outcomes. This section is your opportunity to tell the story of your project, compellingly conveying its significance and potential impact.

The point of your grant narrative is to communicate what you plan to accomplish, how you will implement your project, and convey your experience with projects of similar scope. Remember, grant reviewers give more points for strong narratives that reply to all the criteria, including the requirements, and demonstrate you are capable of getting to outcomes.

What is the biggest challenge in grant writing? 

One of the most significant challenges is striking the right balance between showcasing the significance of your project and adhering to the word or page limits set by funders. Condensing a complex project into a concise narrative without compromising its integrity requires careful planning and precise writing.

When crafting your grant narrative, think about the things that must be in your application or program to successfully reach your outcomes. Those items should be the first areas you focus on when crafting the sections of your grant application and grant narrative.

Once you have drafted a section, thoroughly edit your narrative to omit miscellaneous information and words. Do not leave editing to the last minute, it is important to edit as you go so your final product is as close to final as possible.

What are typical grant narrative sections?

A well-crafted narrative should address the following key components:

  • Project Overview: Introduce your project and its goals. Clearly state the problem your project addresses and the beneficiaries it aims to serve.
  • Objectives and Activities: Outline the specific objectives of your project and the activities you plan to implement to achieve them. Be specific and detail-oriented, providing a clear roadmap of how you will execute your project.
  • Methodology and Approach: Describe your project’s methodology and approach. Explain the rationale behind your chosen methods and how they align with best practices and evidence-based strategies.
  • Anticipated Outcomes: Clearly articulate the expected outcomes of your project. Use data and evidence to support your projections and show the potential impact of your work.
  • Evaluation and Sustainability: Demonstrate how you will evaluate the success of your project and measure its impact. Discuss your plan for sustainability beyond the grant period, showcasing your organization’s capacity to maintain the project’s effectiveness.
  • Budget: Show how your funding will be used by giving a clear picture of what you will use the money for. Ensure that only allowable expenses are included in your budget.

How can my grant proposal stand out from the competition?

Each funder brings their distinct set of expectations and preferences to the table, making ongoing research and adaptability crucial in ensuring your proposal resonates deeply with their mission. To create a grant proposal that truly shines amidst a landscape of competitive submissions, dedicate your efforts to crafting a narrative that exudes clarity, authenticity, and resonance. 

Showcase not only your project’s potential impact but also your dedication to sustainable success. Infuse your narrative with compelling storytelling that ignites the reader’s interest and empathy. By sharing your passion, expertise, and commitment, you can elevate your proposal from a mere submission to a captivating journey that captivates and compels funders to invest in your vision.

Grant reviewers enjoy seeing an organization shine at the work it excels at. The more your narrative can show the fit between what your population of focus needs, what you provide, and the outcomes the funder desires the higher your grant application will rise in the competition.

Learn Grant Writing Now

Crafting a compelling narrative is a crucial step in creating successful grant proposals. By understanding your audience, telling engaging stories, showcasing expertise, and emphasizing sustainability, you can capture the attention of funders and increase your chances of securing the funding your project deserves. 

The only way to learn is to practice and refine your skills. That’s why you can now enroll at any time in Idea 2 Action: Art of Sustainable Grant Writing

This course enhances your grant writing skills and teaches you advanced techniques to create impactful narratives and high-scoring grant applications. Start crafting narratives that leave a lasting impression and propel your project or program toward success.

The best grant writing course for novice nonprofit professionals- Idea 2 Impact: Art of Sustainable Grant Writing. Image with office items and coffee with teal below with black letters. More info at

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