How to Tell Your Story So Funders Listen

How do stories and grants connect?

At Ascend NBS, we believe that stories are a huge part of every grant application. A funder is more likely to say “yes” to your application if you tell your story well. Submit a boring proposal that reads like all the others and you’ll likely end up looking for money from a different funder. 

Within a grant writing context, here are three foundational principles for storytelling:

1.Know Your Audience

Knowing or anticipating who will be reading what you have written is a great start. 

One of the most critical components of telling a good story and writing a good grant is to write it with your funder in mind. Don’t write the proposal for you, write it for them. Tell your story in such a way that funders know you’ve tailored it for them. Do the work to understand their purpose for providing funding. Recognize the results they hope to foster through their fund.

2.Be the Sidekick

When writing a grant application the hero of the story should always be the clients or community you serve. 

You, or your organization, are the sidekick. You’re the one who has a plan for the hero to follow. It’s that plan that results in successful outcomes. 

As you begin to craft your grant proposals and write your program descriptions and organizational overviews, become the sidekick. Help funders understand the hero of the story and their challenges and then go on to explain how you will serve as the guide. Tell your story in such a way the funder understands the plan and how it will have an impact.

3.Speak on Transformation

The description of the transformation is key in your grant proposal. By clearly outlining how your solution will change the circumstances for your clients, the funder will gain a deeper understanding of the benefit of your project and be able to make a decision about whether they wish to invest their funds into such a venture.

If you don’t include the transformation in your story, a funder is left wondering if your plan really works or makes a difference. Paint a clear picture for them. You want to evoke emotion in the funder that causes them to get a lump in their throat, as they recognize the transformation of the hero in the story.

These tips and strategies represent just a few of the tested and proven tactics we pass on in our grant writing course, Story-Based Grant Writing presented by Grant Yourself Success®.

Already a student? Stay tuned for news about our future course, The Grant Consultant Blueprint presented by Grant Yourself Success® that teaches how to turn your grant writing skill into a 6-figure business.

Don’t want to worry about writing the grants yourself? Learn more about how Ascend NBS can help your organization prosper at