Tips for Grads: Effective Grant Writing

Guest column by Laura Jessee Livingston, PhD student

Are you looking for research or project funding? Grant writing is an important skill for professional and academic development. UW–Madison has many great resources for grant writing!

To write a successful grant application:

  • Begin by outlining your specific financial needs
  • Use UW’s Grant Information Collection, GrantSpace, FoundationCenter, or other funding websites to search for foundational and federal funding opportunities
  • Do your homework! Match your profile and financial needs to the interests and organizational profile of your funder
    • Call your funder’s office or send a letter of inquiry – pre-proposal contact triples an applicant’s chances for funding!
    • Identify previous grant recipients with similar projects and potentially contact them to ask further questions.
    • When contacting grant offices and previous grantees, be prepared and keep the discussion brief and focused.
  • Pull words or phrases directly from the potential funder’s website to use in your proposal
  • Read the call for applications or proposals thoroughly and follow guidelines carefully
  • Write passionately and imaginatively about your topic – convince others to be excited about your vision
  • Get feedback and revise, revise, revise! Have people from other disciplines read your application for clarity. The UW–Madison Writing Center is a great resource for polishing proposals
  • Submit applications early and to many sources (using different proposals!)
  • Pay attention to deadlines! Applying for grants takes time

Adapted from Tips for the Application Process by UW–Madison Libraries

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.