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3 tips to stand out in the sea of online applications

Grant writers can use these tips to make sure their applications are read and fully understood

By Diane H. Leonard, GPC

I recently asked a group of grant seeking professionals what percent of their applications in one year are via online systems. The answer was that more than 75 percent said over 50 percent of their grant work is submitted via an online application system. That is a huge shift from when I started my career in grant making back in 2002 as a program officer for the Michigan Women’s Foundation. Online application systems were just being designed and discussed among private foundations. Now, submitting an application to a government entity via anything but an online application feels like an oddity.

Whether in an online grant application process that has strict formatting requirements like, in a custom state specific online application portal, or there are different challenges to be considered about standing out in the sea of online applications each grant maker receives. Instead of knowing that you controlled the final hard copy product that a grant maker would see and hold in their hand, as grant professionals we now only know what the submission looks like in the fields of the form, or if we are lucky as the whole pdf packet. We still do not control the quality of the printer that is used by the reviewer or if they choose to print out the entire application as we submitted it versus only a few key pages.

With these challenges facing us as grant professionals and grant seeking organizations, how do we then stand out and become more than one more faceless application via an online grant application system?

Read the full list of 3 Tips to Stand Out on

About the author
Diane H. Leonard, GPC is an experienced and highly respected grant professional who has provided grant development counsel to nonprofit organizations of varying size and scope for more than a decade. Diane founded DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC based in Clayton, NY in 2006. Diane began her career in philanthropy as a Program Officer for the Michigan Women’s Foundation, a statewide public foundation. Diane is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association and is proud to have earned her Grant Professional Certification, a credentialed certification conferred by the Grant Professional Credential Institute.