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Grant Writing for Nonprofits and Freelance Writers

Learn how to "grantsmith" winning proposals, think like a funder, draft a solid boilerplate, and build relationships.
4.3 (26 ratings)
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812 students enrolled
Created by Tim Whitney
Last updated 1/2015
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  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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This course is designed for nonprofits that want to not only get better at writing successful proposals, but also get better at the process of researching and applying for foundation and government grants. The course is also for grant writers or freelance writers who want to offer their clients a more comprehensive approach to grant writing.

When you’re done with the course, you’ll have assembled one of the most powerful tools a nonprofit can have – a proposal boilerplate.

The boilerplate contains about 75% of the language you’ll need as you’re drafting proposals. Working on the boilerplate outside the pressure of a proposal deadline will result in language that is better-written, as well as more thoughtful and strategic. It will also set you up to be uber-efficient as you’re writing proposals in the future.

Throughout this course we'll be using real examples and real language, and each lesson includes a transcript, so you can kickstart your own boilerplate.

You’ll also be given strategies and tips for finding foundation and government grants, including:

  • Identifying five relevant local foundations
  • Gathering information about grants at the local, state, and federal level for you to start pursuing

Finally, we’ll be walking through key strategies for completing solid applications, including:

  • Letters of intent
  • The budget
  • Meeting a funder’s expectations

Each video session includes two downloads: a PDF of the slides in handout format, and a Word document transcript.

Who is the target audience?
  • Nonprofits, particularly small and new nonprofits, or those struggling to develop funder relationships
  • Freelance writers looking to add grant writing to their skillset
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What Will I Learn?
Identify relevant government and private foundation funders
Draft solid and efficient proposal boilerplate language that can be used for years
Strategically align funder priorities, organizational mission, program design, program budgets
Use provided sample language as a guide in your own proposal writing
View Curriculum
  • Writing software and Adobe Acrobat Reader (to view PDFs)
  • The homework encourages students to focus on their nonprofit and its programs, so freelance writers should have a nonprofit / program in mind
  • Student should have working knowledge of their organization's goals, programs, and priorities
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 17 Lectures Collapse All 17 Lectures 01:34:30
1 Lecture 03:08

In this session, you'll get an overview of the goals of the course and how it's organized.

Preview 03:08
Think Like a Funder
1 Lecture 04:31

In this session, you'll learn how to think like a funder and how to plan strategically for grant proposals.

Preview 04:31
The Boilerplate
9 Lectures 49:17

In this session, you'll learn about the value of creating a proposal boilerplate and the overall structure of a boilerplate document.

Introduction to the Boilerplate

In this session, we'll work on your Mission and History statement to create a solid foundation to any proposal.

Mission & Vision

In this session, you'll write language to let funders know your overall philosophy and the specific approach you take in response to that philosophy.

Philosophy & Approach

In this session, you'll assemble key statistics and conclusions that support your program and approach.

Preview 04:55

In this session, you'll be creating long and short descriptions of each of your program using a consistent, logical structure.

Program Descriptions

In this session, you'll be exploring and writing about the mechanisms you use to maintain accountability for quality service delivery.


In this session, you'll be exploring and writing about your plans to keep your programs sustainable beyond funding.


In this session, you'll be writing about the different types of partnerships you engage in to keep your programs strong.

Partnerships & Volunteers

In this session, you'll be wrapping up your boilerplate by writing sections about your governance and leadership, than making sure you have the right supporting documents.

Governance, Leadership & Misc. Documents
Finding Foundation & Government Funders
2 Lectures 12:01

In this session, you'll learn how to research and find appropriate foundations to support your work.

Finding Foundation Grants

In this session, you'll learn how to research and find appropriate government grants to support your work.

Finding Government Grants
Successful Applications Start-to-Finish
4 Lectures 25:33

In this session, you'll learn the value of relationships and craft a sample letter of intent.

Developing Relationships & Letters of Intent

In this session, you'll learn some key strategies for assembling a solid and complete proposal.

Completing the Application

In this session, you'll learn a basic structure for a program budget and how to calculate different line items.

The Budget

In this session, you'll learn a few tips for ongoing success, whether you get the grant or not.

After You Submit
About the Instructor
4.3 Average rating
26 Reviews
812 Students
1 Course
Nonprofit & Public Policy Strategist / Design Practitioner

Tim has a dual background in marketing and policy development. His passion is helping nonprofits align all of the necessary communication tools and strategies to be effective at accomplishing their goals. These tools range from branding and communication strategy to print campaigns, web development, web applications, copywriting, legislation, policy and program development. Tim has helped organizations like the Willow Creek Association, Awana Clubs International, TASC, DuPage PADS, Bright Hope International and nonprofits of various shapes and sizes in the Chicagoland area. Most recently, Tim helped the Illinois Division of Mental Health receive a $4 million federal grant for services for at-risk youth.

Tim has also worked at the intersection of social service, drug treatment and criminal justice policy in Illinois for 17 years. As Special Counsel for Policy for a statewide nonprofit, he was responsible for research, analysis and policy support for a number of agency activities, primarily legislative analysis, and policy and program design in the areas of criminal justice and diversion / alternatives to incarceration. He also co-authored a number of papers on treatment, diversion and disproportionate minority confinement.

Tim prioritizes helping organizations that do redemptive work – organizations that attempt to bring healing to brokenness, and restoration of hope. He's also a lawyer, but don't worry...he's one of the good guys.

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