Grant writing can be creative and fun, but it can also be tedious if you are caught in repetitive tasks. Imagine what it would be like if you could outsource these mundane tasks to affordable, automated grant writing software!
In this article, we’ll identify the best grant writing software and discuss how to choose the right one for you in your role as a nonprofit representative or consultant (or both!). We will walk through how these tools can help streamline your workflow to free up your time. So let’s get started!
How We Selected These Grant Writing Software Options
What is grant writing software? We define it as a computer program, or set of programs, that will directly empower the grant writing process. This could include fine-tuning grammar, assisting with managing the grant lifecycle, improving communications, building out project management, and more.
An important note is that this post looks at grant writing software and grant management software designed for prospective grantees writing applications. These are not the grant management software designed for grantors to administer grants, or “grantmaking” software.
How did we decide what makes each one of these grant writing software options the “best”? Criteria included price, integrations, features, scalability, and accessibility.
Price: We like the plans that give you a free option to experiment and explore.
Integrations: How the software can fit into the grant writing you are already doing.
Features: The capabilities that the software has to empower your grant writing work.
Scalability: What options there are to “upgrade” to higher tiers based on your needs.
Accessibility: How quickly you can start using the product, and how user-friendly it is.
Before you start exploring your options, make a list of your grant writing goals, and what portions of your grant processes could use the most support. Then review the resources below to determine which tools will be the best fit for your specific needs.
The Best Beginner-Friendly Grant Writing Software
The first place to start off when it comes to grant writing software for beginners is with the software tools that are available to you for free trial periods (or are completely free!) for you to experiment with, software solutions that provide technical assistance and training, and software that streamlines your grants research process as you are creating your overall grants protocol.
A powerful word processing software is essential for the extensive writing that is the core of grant proposal creation.
Google Workspace is an incredibly versatile writing and communications tool that allows you to write, communicate with your team, coordinate projects, and manage data all in one place. Google Cloud also provides a place to host those projects and data. If you are looking for an affordable way to cover each of the aspects of the grant writing process for your team, this is an excellent choice.
Price: Google Workspace is 100% free for individuals with all of its suite features and is also free for Cloud storage up to 15 GB. Increased storage and features for businesses are covered in tiered pricing.
Integrations: Google Workspace is very integration friendly, both with communications between its own internal features and with outside apps.
Gmail (email platform)
Drive (cloud storage)
Meet (video calls)
Calendar (shared scheduling)
Chat (direct messaging)
Jamboard (brainstorming whiteboard)
Docs (word processor)
Slides (presentation tool)
Keep (note-taking service)
Sites (web-creation tool)
Forms (surveying tool)
Scalability: Tiered pricing and features are available based on your storage needs, business needs, and any regulations you need to follow such as HIPAA compliance.
Accessibility: It’s very easy to start with Google Workspace, you just need to register for a Gmail account, a process that only takes a few minutes.
Grammarly is a powerful tool that provides automatic suggestions for grammar, spelling, style, and tone. This is a great tool to make sure that your grant writing is clear, readable, and error-free.
Price: Free plan is available indefinitely for up to 2 users, with options to grow. ($25/month for each user if you pay monthly, and $15-$12.50/month if you pay annually based on the amount of licenses that you purchase for your team).
Integrations: Grammarly has a vast number of integrations that allow you to use it across your communications platforms (see the screenshot below).
Features: The free plan is great for providing simple, automatic grammar edits, and there is also tiered pricing for additional features.
Scalability: Tiered pricing allows you to access more detailed features as needed, such as a style guide to shape your brand “voice” while writing.
Accessibility: This option has a quick download and is an easy add-on to many of the online tools you use day-to-day, such as Google Chrome and other browsers.
A grant search engine is a software program that helps people research information about grants online using keywords and phrases. This article by Instrumentl does a deep dive into the most popular choices for grant databases, weighing the pros and cons of each.
Prices: Most of these search engines offer a free version or free trial period as you get started, with the option to switch to a paid plan (the article explains the tiers in more depth).
Integrations: Integrations vary across platforms.
Example: Instrumentl provides a platform that connects grants prospecting, tracking and management in one place.
Features: Each search engine has pros and cons depending on your organizational needs.
Example: Grants.gov is always free to use, but is limited to showcasing only federal grants, not institutional giving.
Scalability: Tiered pricing and features are available based on the size of your organization, with room to grow at the higher price point subscriptions.
Accessibility: Of all of these options, Instrumentl is the most accessible one for beginners if you are looking for a comprehensive grants lifecycle tool. Instrumentl automatically matches you to funding opportunities and provides you with an individualized training session on how to utilize its features when you register for your two week trial.
Is there AI for Grant Writing?
One of the latest trends taking over the internet is the use of artificial intelligence, or AI for grant writing.
Tools like ChatGPT allow you to enter grant writing prompts that you can target for your specific needs. Within seconds, it can generate whatever you ask it to, including a grant proposal.
This may seem like it’s too good to be true, and most are still navigating what that means in the grant writing space. There are several companies that are working to create specific AI grant writing software, including Grantable, NonprofitOS, and Fundwriter.ai. These are targeted tools to help nonprofits write grants using AI.
However, because it’s so new, there are a lot of unanswered questions about AI and grant writing.
Can I Use AI to Write a Grant Proposal? The Ethics
The ethics of using AI in work, including grant writing, are currently still being debated. In many cases, you are getting paid to do a job, but you are asking a computer to do the work for you and passing it off as your own unique content.
Many people worry this is the latest automation effort that will take jobs away from humans. Also, bias can play a huge role when it comes to AI. The initial programming can include the programmer’s bias from the start. As people use AI more and more, new biases or false information can be introduced. Because AI uses the inputs to learn, it’s easy for misinformation to spread and take on a life of its own.
Chances are, if you’re exploring AI for grant writing, so are your competitors. You could be getting the same grant proposal outputs, which means you won’t stand out. Even worse, it could be used to inform their proposals to make them better if you use it first.
Regardless of whether using AI for grant writing is ethical, it’s important to remember it can only take you so far. You still need to add the human element to your applications. The best grant proposals need a human touch. They require someone close to the organization to tell the social and emotional story, which is something a computer can’t really master—no matter how good the prompt you’re giving it.
At this time, you want to be cautious when you’re using AI to write a grant proposal. It may drive efficiencies, but it could introduce other problems.
Are AI Writing Tools Effective for Grant Writing?
Just like any tool, there are pros and cons to using AI to help you through the grant writing process.
Some of the benefits of using AI tools for grant writing include:
Providing a rough draft in seconds
Because you know your organization better than anyone, AI writing tools will only provide a start for your proposal. You’ll still need to go in and customize it. In some cases, it might be easier to just do it yourself from the start rather than waste time revising.
There are other disadvantages of using AI tools for grant writing, and they include:
Standard writing outputs that won’t stand out
Lack of emotional appeal
Proprietary information becoming public knowledge
Part of what makes your organization so special is your story—it’s the heart of who you are. When you use AI for grant writing, your proposals will likely lack that heart. They don’t know what they don’t know, after all!
Remember, if you’re using this tool, your competitors may be too. You don’t want a grant proposal that looks and reads like everyone else’s—you want to stand out!
AI is an effective tool, but it shouldn’t be used to take the place of skilled grant writers.
Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from 12,000+ active opportunities.
The Best Grant Writing Software for Grant Writing Consultants and Agencies
Grant consultants and consulting agencies have unique sets of needs when it comes to grant writing software, as they have a different set of day-to-day grant writing operations than the nonprofits they work with.
Slack organizes projects into organized spaces called channels, with a different one for each thing you’re working on. Your team’s messages and files related to a grant writing topic can be kept in one place, streamlining productivity and empowering communication.
Price: Starts off with a robust free plan your team can use indefinitely, with options to grow alongside your changing needs.
Integrations: Very customizable, and can integrate with popular platforms like Google Drive, Microsoft 365, and Salesforce.
Features: Channels help you keep track of grant opportunities and their associated files. The workflow builder for automating routine activities can be a real time saver while you are managing multiple projects.
Scalability: Tiered pricing is available, including for regulatory security for things like HIPAA compliance.
Accessibility: Great for consultants that are helping agencies build from the ground up and those that are growing their teams.
Google Scholar is a search engine that specifically focuses on scholarly literature. You can search across academic disciplines and resources to compile research for each of the grant writing projects you are working on.
Price: Always free to use, although the articles themselves can be behind a paywall.
Integrations: Integrations aren’t really necessary for this resource, as it's a stand-alone research tool.
Features: You can refine searches by time, date and relevance, and create libraries for yourself to collect the resources you need.
Scalability: This tool doesn’t really lend itself to scaling up, it’s a pretty straightforward search engine that allows you to navigate through academic sources.
Accessibility: Google Scholar connects automatically to your Google account, so you can use it right away. This is a great resource to take advantage of if you are using Google Workspace.
The Hemingway App is used to establish and finetune writing style, with a special focus on brevity to make your point quickly. This is great for grant consultants and teams who are writing grants frequently and daily, with many sets of proposal length guidelines to juggle.
Price: The online version of Hemingway Editor is free. The desktop version, Hemingway App, is available for a one-time payment of $19.99.
Integrations: It's a stand-alone online app or desktop program, so if you use the free version this would be something you copy and paste your text from into your preferred word processor. If you download the desktop version, you can export your work in a few different ways such as Medium or WordPress.
Features: The Hemingway App has two modes: writing and editing. In writing, you can type text without editing features. In editing mode, there are color-coded directions on how to streamline your writing style, thesaurus suggestions, notes on passive voice, and suggestions on how to shorten sentences to make them more powerful.
Scalability: You can use the free online tool, or the paid desktop app which allows you to edit offline and has download features.
Accessibility: The online version of the Hemingway App is especially easy to start using, as you can write and edit directly from the homepage without creating an account.
The Best Grant Writing Software for Development Directors and Nonprofit Leaders
In your role as a development director or nonprofit leader of a medium-to-large nonprofit, grant writing software and grant management software will be tools that you use regularly in your organization’s grant writing process.
NonprofitPlus is an accounting and project management suite designed for nonprofits. Great for tracking the fiscal aspects of grant project administration.
Price: Starts at $675.00/month.
Integrations: Currently limited to SalesForce and Zapier manual integrations.
Features: Specifically focuses on natively managing, tracking, processing, and reporting on grants (has a specific module tailored for grants). NonprofitPlus will help automate and streamline the financial aspect of your grant writing, such as describing sustainability plans.
Scalability: Really targeted to just the members of your team who are focused on the financial accounting and reporting areas of your nonprofit. A good tool to use for your Board of Directors development committee to keep track of grant reports.
Accessibility: More involved to register and onboard than some of the other software we have explored, but is a very targeted and powerful way to manage your grants.
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-style project management solution with a lot of user-friendly, intuitive options. Smartsheet has a lot of potential to use across multiple departments to manage data, finances, and grants information.
Price: Offers a range of free templates and a free trial period, and a tiered pricing model to access additional features. Tiered pricing is available at $7 per user/month and $25 per user/month.
Integrations: Works well with Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Apple ID.
Features: One of the great features is free grant proposal templates to get you started in structuring your grant proposals.
Scalability: Higher tiered pricing allows for access to additional features like automatic proofreading and branding capabilities.
Accessibility: Easy registration through Google and Microsoft 365, as long as you use a work email address.
The Best Grant Writing Software for Nonprofits
To finish our comprehensive list of grant writing software, we will explore the best overall software solutions for small-to-enterprise nonprofits. These are the best options for automating and empowering your grants work to free yourself up for the work that really needs you.
Instrumentl is specifically designed as a nonprofit grant research, grant management, tracking, and grant writing hub. The software uses a matching algorithm to match your projects with tailored grant opportunities, provides regular training opportunities, and has excellent overall grant lifecycle features.
Price: Instrumentl has a 14-day free trial, and then nonprofit pricing starts at a couple hundred dollars a month. You can learn more here.
Integrations: Instrumentl has native integrations to other platforms like Salesforce. You can also export PDFs and CSVs of views from your Tracker and import those accordingly to other platforms.
Features: Instrumentl connects grants prospecting, tracking, and management into one easy to use platform. It allows you to create beautiful reports and export data easily. Instrumentl also provides regular updates as new grant opportunities become available, making it a sustainable long term solution.
Scalability: The monthly plans allow you seats for three members, with enterprise solutions available for larger nonprofits.
Accessibility: An easy registration process with an individual training session included in the 14-day free trial.
EveryAction is a grants management system that is specifically designed for nonprofits. The software links together a nonprofit CRM, donor management, and fundraising software. This might be a tool that you select to complement a grants-focused tool like Instrumentl to follow up on prospecting with long-term reporting.
Price: A free demonstration, and $109.00/month.
Integrations: A great solution to track individual and institutional giving in one place. Integrations include: WealthEngine, Google Analytics, Drupal, Google Tag Manager, Mobilize, Zoom, Apple Pay, Stripe, Paragon, PayPal Payments Pro, CallFire, Twilio, Pantheon, Google Drive, Salesforce, ROI Solutions, Facebook Ads, Twitter, Target Smart, Catalist.
Features: Includes access to customer service and training opportunities. Compared to competing CRMs, EveryAction dedicates a portion of its features to the grant writing and grants management process.
Scalability: Good for a team in a state of growth that is looking for long-term solutions to its overall nonprofit CRM/database needs.
Accessibility: EveryAction has an impressive array of features to make it a “one stop shop”, but can be challenging to onboard because of the complexity of offered services. If you choose this software, plan for a few months to be spent training your team on how to use it.
Canva is a popular graphic design tool that has gained fame with nonprofits because it provides access to professional resources on the platform for free. This is an excellent tool for creating deliverables for your grant writing and storing them in organized folders right on the platform.
Price: Canva has a free option available for individuals, and the professional version is free for nonprofits, after completing a simple application.
Integrations: You can link your social media accounts to Canva and post directly from the integrated calendar. There is also an ability to share directly to other platforms and to invite collaborators to work on designs in real time.
Features: Canva has become an industry standard for digital media design for nonprofits. It has thousands of graphics, clip art, and editing features to use with their many tailored templates. It allows you to upload all of your brand guidelines for easy, coordinated campaigns.
Scalability: You can have up to 10 people on your team for your free nonprofit Pro account.
Accessibility: Very quick registration to sign up for a free account, and then another quick application process to get a free nonprofit Pro account.
Where Is the Best Place to Search for Grants?
Grantseeking can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to look.
You can find grants with a simple Google search; however, that takes a lot of time and effort. You can very easily waste your time tracking down leads that go nowhere, wasting your time and taking you away from more important work.
Comprehensive and curated grant databases like Instrumentl are the best option because they can help you identify relevant grants that work for you and your organization. You can personalize your search by funding area, funding amount, location, and more. Instrumentl even provides a 990 Finder that you can use to streamline your search.
At the end of the day, funders want to ensure that their dollars are making a difference. Your proposal is your chance to show them how their funding will enable you to make an impact in your community.
These are just a few tips for how to win a grant application, but you can get more in-depth resources and insights in this guide to great grant proposals.
How Hard Is Grant Writing?
Grant writing is more of an art than a science. It may look like it’s just as simple as filling out an application; however, there’s a lot more to it than that.
The best thing you can do when you are learning grant writing is to over-prepare. Learn everything you can about your organization. When you are familiar with your nonprofit through and through, you will be able to tell your story like no one else can, identifying what you have in common with potential funders and why they should choose to fund you.
As you look to start writing a proposal, give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to rush the process because you’ll end up with an incomplete application that’s filled with mistakes and typos.
Grant writing may be hard, but you’ve got this. You can also check out Instrumentl’s blog that’s filled with resources for new grants writers, grant writing experts, and everyone in between!
Wrapping Things Up: The Best Grant Writing Software
Grant writing software can be braided into your grant writing process in a number of ways depending on your needs and the needs of the organization(s) you are working with.
This article listed a few of our favorite softwares that we think would work well for you, so now all that is left is to decide on your favorites and get started!
Join us to see Instrumentl and other grant writing software in practice on our events page, updated regularly with webinars and workshops to learn more about what new and exciting technology is available to empower your grant writing.
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