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Tips for Writing a Small Business Grant That Gets Chosen

Leanne Strickler
Published August 21, 2023

You have a vision for your small business growth but you need funding to make it happen. Winning a grant could help your dreams become a reality, but can you craft an award-winning pitch?

Writing a winning grant proposal is challenging, but with some tips and tricks, you can create an application that gets chosen. The key is showing how your idea will benefit your community, communicating clearly, and following the rules to a T. If you want to beat the competition and win a grant for your small business, read on. We’ll walk through how to craft a pitch that sparks interest and makes your vision impossible to ignore. By the end, you’ll be ready to start drafting a proposal destined for success.

Understanding the Elements of a Winning Small Business Grant Proposal

To craft a winning small business grant proposal, you must understand what elements will help your submission stand out.

First, choose a compelling project title and summary that grabs the reviewer’s attention. Keep these to 1-2 sentences that convey your main objective and expected impact.

Next, establish credibility. Share details about your company’s background and mission. Discuss your experience, qualifications, and other funding sources. Explain your annual budget to demonstrate financial responsibility.

Then, make a strong case for why the funding is necessary. Discuss the specific needs and issues your project aims to address. Explain who will benefit and how. Provide statistics and examples to strengthen your needs statement.

The project narrative is the heart of your proposal. Lay out your plan of action in 2-3 paragraphs. Discuss goals, objectives, timelines, budgets, and primary activities or milestones. Explain your approach and methodology for achieving outcomes. Share details that prove your project is well-developed and ready to execute.

Discuss the personnel involved and their relevant experience. Explain how you will evaluate progress and measure success. Share any data, metrics, or anecdotes that support the potential impact.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to crafting a compelling proposal. Do your research, know your audience, and take the time to create a well-organized submission that brings your project vision to life. With a winning pitch that speaks to the reviewer’s interests and priorities, you’ll have the funding to turn your small business dreams into reality.

Researching the Grant Requirements Thoroughly

When applying for a small business grant, doing your homework is crucial. Before you start writing, understand what grantmakers are specifically looking for in proposals.

Review the Grant Guidelines Thoroughly

Read through all the details on the grantmaker’s website to determine if your business and project idea is not only eligible but also a good fit for the requirements. Pay attention to eligibility criteria like business location, years in operation, and industry. Make sure you meet all the qualifications before moving forward.

Seeing what kinds of proposals and projects they’ve funded in the past can give you insight into what they’re looking to support. You may find new ideas or discover new possibilities for your business.

Check if they require a letter of intent or concept paper before submitting a full proposal. If so, review the requirements for that as well. Following all instructions demonstrates your ability to carry out the work.

Outline the Proposal Requirements

Once you’ve determined your project matches the grant, review the proposal guidelines line by line. Outline each required section and the information needed. Common sections include:

The above steps will help you create a compelling proposal that addresses all the grantmaker’s requirements. 

Crafting a Compelling Need Statement

To convince the grant review committee that your business deserves funding, you’ll have to make a compelling case for why their support is so critical. This is called the need statement. In the need statement, clearly define the problem your business aims to solve, supported by valid data and evidence.

Keep your need statement concise but impactful. Focus on the key issues, and use statistics and stories to bring them to life. For example:

A compelling need statement should be coherent and supported, not just a list of problems. Explain how those issues specifically impact your business and community. Use a case study or client story to strengthen statistics and help reviewers understand why your work is critical.

For example:

A clear, evidence-based need statement sets the foundation for your grant proposal. Done well, it highlights the urgency around the issues you aim to address and shows the meaningful impact of your work. Keep your readers engaged by combining compelling data with human stories, and you’ll have crafted a need statement that inspires action.

Building Your Capabilities and Credentials

To increase your chances of securing a small business grant, show funders you have the capabilities and credentials to turn your idea into reality.

Build Your Experience and Skills

Do some skill-building to strengthen your business acumen and industry knowledge. Take free or low-cost financial management, strategic planning, and marketing courses. Build a professional network by joining relevant industry associations and networking groups. Get hands-on experience through internships, part-time work, or volunteering in a similar business.

Earn Relevant Credentials and Certifications

Look for credentials that certify your expertise for the specific grant program. Many are offered online at little or no cost. For example, if you’re applying for a tech grant, consider certifications in web design, SEO, or social media marketing. For a healthcare-specific grant, get certified in health IT, healthcare compliance, or patient advocacy.

Credentials and certifications serve as “proof points” for funders that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to execute your business plan successfully. They also allow you to build specialized expertise that will set you apart from other applicants.

Emphasize Soft Skills

Soft skills like communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving are important. Don’t leave these out of your application. These skills are crucial for running a small business, so call them out in your grant application. For example, mention that you have strong organizational abilities that aid in running your business, or that you’re adept at building professional relationships that lead to new opportunities.

Soft skills are often hard to teach, so having them already positions you for success. Provide examples of how you’ve applied your soft skills in work or life experiences. Your capability and determination—combined with relevant credentials and experience in your industry—will show funders you have the right mix of skills and passion to achieve your vision.

Perfecting Your Pitch: Writing Style Tips for Grant Proposals

When crafting your grant proposal, your writing style and pitch can make or break your chance for funding. Here are some tips to help you perfect your pitch:

Be Positive and Persuasive

Frame your proposal in an optimistic, encouraging way. Use language like “will” and “can” rather than “may” or “might.” Discuss the benefits and impact of funding, not just the details of how funds will be used. Help the funders visualize the positive change that will result from their support.

Be Honest Yet Strategic

Provide transparent information about challenges or obstacles, but do so optimistically and constructively. Discuss how you aim to address roadblocks and turn them into opportunities. Be realistic in your goals and specific in your plans. Vague or unrealistic proposals will be less convincing.

Focus and Flow

Use clear, straightforward language and formatting to keep the reader engaged. Short sentences and small paragraphs make information easy to absorb. Headings, bullet points, and bold text also help guide the reader through key points. Repeat important terms and tie sections back to your central theme or purpose to create flow in the narrative.

Show Your Passion

Help the funders understand why this project or initiative is meaningful to you and your community. Discuss the motivation behind your work and your commitment to success and sustainability. Share relevant experiences that demonstrate your capability, skills, and determination. Your enthusiasm and dedication will come through to the reader.

Review and Revise

Have others review and provide feedback on your draft. Look for any areas that could be clearer or stronger and make revisions. Double-check for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Read through the final draft aloud to identify any awkward phrasing. With feedback and review, you can craft a pitch-perfect for persuading funders to choose your grant proposal.


So there you have it, the keys to crafting a winning small business grant pitch. Remember, do your research, tell your story, show the impact, build excitement, and ask confidently. If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to securing funding for your business. Now get out there, dream big, and make that pitch!