Grant Writing Pitfalls to Avoid

Red Tape Buster
4 min readNov 26, 2019


The most common pitfalls in grant writing are often the easiest to avoid. When you’re pumping out grant application after grant writing application, you can fall into the trap of overlooking the small details that make a grant writing application stand out. With competition for grants at an all-time high, good grant writers know that a grant application has to hit the mark every time. To ensure that your grant applications don’t land in the reject bin every time, here are grant writing pitfalls that you must avoid:

1. Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Good grant writers always do their legwork before they begin. They start by ensuring they understand the funding body from which they are applying. This is because all funding bodies have their own set of objectives and interests. No matter how great your project idea might be, if it does not fit within the funder’s interests or objectives, then you are really trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In fact, chances are, your proposal won’t even be reviewed if it doesn’t match the funder’s guidelines. In your haste to acquire money, don’t make the mistake of applying for grants that don’t fit your vision and objectives. Instead, spend some time researching the funder and understand their mission and goals. If it doesn’t line up, don’t waste your time trying to massage your proposal to match their objectives. Funders publish their interests for a reason, and they will not change their areas of interest based on a good project idea.

2. Failing to Follow Directions

A sure-fire way to land your proposal in the waste-paper basket is to not follow basic directions. This is one of the most common mistakes, but also the easiest to avoid. Funding bodies receive thousands of applications and one way they sort out the amateurs from the professionals is to see who follows the directions. So, if they request a detailed, three-year budget, then give them one. If they give you a word limit, stick to it. If they ask you not to put staples in your document, then don’t. Ignoring simple instructions guarantees a rejection for your grant application. So, make sure to follow them down to the letter.

3. Failing to Proofread Your Work

Spending several hours doing careful proofreading might not be your idea of a good time. Spelling, punctuation and grammar don’t come naturally to everyone. But, when it comes to grant writing, it pays to pay someone to do it for you, especially if you don’t have the gift yourself. In fact, getting someone to take a second look over your work makes perfect sense. Chances are, if your grant proposal doesn’t make sense to your editor, then it won’t make sense to the funders. Get your work checked!

4. Failure to Prepare Your Budget Properly

Since a grant application is all about acquiring money, the budget section of your proposal is perhaps the most important. Yet, it’s amazing how people can skip over this section, approximating numbers with no research or quotes, forgetting that money is the entire point of your application. Proposals that arrive with math errors undermine an organisation’s credibility. Do your numbers make sense? Does your budget match the picture that the rest of your proposal is trying to paint? If the funding body is receiving hundreds of similar grants, with similar budgets, they will know if you are trying to fudge the numbers. So, don’t pad the budget with unnecessary or inflated costs. Research past grants that the funding body has made to similar organisations to yours to ensure that you are not asking for too little or too much. Why not involve your business or finance manager in the grant-writing process? Don’t put together a great proposal and then blow it with a terrible budget.

If you’re not having much luck with your grant applications, then consider getting some professional help. Red Tape Busters are specialist in grant and tender writing and can help your organisation or business win grant funding or achieve successes with tenders. Visit for more information. We are specialists in providing the following services:

· Lobbying;

· Tender Writing;

· Grant Writing;

· Resumes/Job Applications;

· Organisational/Business Development.

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Red Tape Buster

Red Tape Busters, Grant Writing Company offers tender writing, job applications writing, resume writer, government lobbying and private sector issues in Queen.