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Four Keys to Success in Winning Grant Funds

July 26, 2022

Some consultants will tell you that winning grants is an art. Others call it a science. It involves a little of both, but more than anything, successfully securing grant funding is about being well-prepared and intentional.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

With federal money now available through the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Biden in November 2021, a wealth of opportunity has arrived for qualified projects across the country. The bill authorizes federal spending in several areas, including surface transportation, highway safety, aviation, broadband internet access, and more.

In addition to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, many states are starting to release grant programs as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the program will provide millions for qualified projects. Missouri and Kansas have established information portals to help navigate the complexities of the funded programs.

No matter the sector, many of these grant opportunities will be highly competitive. Doing the proper background research and legwork is essential for your organization to come out on top.

The Grant Application Process

Think of the grant application process as a target with a bullseye in the center. Some companies might take a shotgun approach – dumping as much information as possible in as many places as possible in the hopes of hitting their mark, but that isn’t the most effective.

Winning a grant is more like using a precision rifle. A successful grant campaign has clarity of purpose that’s well-aligned with the objectives of the funding program.

1. Assess – Grab a whiteboard or a piece of paper. Brainstorm and write down all the needs within your organization, particularly those related to services you could provide with external investment. Think about the pain within your community and how your organization is well-positioned to mitigate it.

2. Prioritize – Take all the ideas you wrote down and identify the ones that are most developed and most timely. Focus on these.

3. Strategic Action Plan and Financing – Develop a timeline and identify resources, both internal and external, that your organization will need to move forward. Consider the grant as your funding source of last resort. Determine how much your organization can bring to the project without outside support. Take the remainder and use that figure for your grant request. 

4. Identify Funding Opportunities and Align Objectives – If you’re able to stay awake combing through the hundreds if not thousands of funding notices available in the Federal Register, be my guest. I recommend getting involved with your state associations and subscribing to trade publications in your industry that publish available grant opportunities.

Align your project with the program objectives. Pay attention to the grant program’s statement of purpose and ask what pieces of your project line up with those outcomes. This means the difference between being an applicant and a competitive applicant.

The process doesn’t end when you win the grant. You need to be prepared to fulfill the requirements and contingencies. Thankfully, we can help.

MarksNelson is equipped with a team of experts who can help guide you through grant administration, grant compliance, project administration, and more. Reach out to us today.


Steve has been working with economic development organizations for more than 30 years. After spending his early years working directly for community organizations, he recognized the opportunity to support multiple communities by identifying the needs and solutions that spread across municipalities. At that point, he... >>> READ MORE

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