Hacks for SSP Fundraising

Tips for Writing Grants, Requests and Requests for Proposals

Here are some of the best practice tips from harm reduction and other nonprofit leaders on how to write grant proposals and other funding requests:

  • Open the application or RFP as soon as you get it – Harm reduction leaders can tell many horror stories about getting an application and not opening it until too late in the process to acquire essential components such as letters of support or audit records. Avoid this by opening and reading the application right away.
  • Make a plan – Once you have read the application, make a plan for when you will work on it – and stick to it. Note that your plan should include who you will need to contact for specific information, letters of support, dates for various editors, and so on.
  • Research the funder – Make sure to research the funder to determine who they have supported in the past, for how much, and what their particular focus is. Let that information inform how you write your request.
  • Don’t procrastinate – Do not put off gathering your data/materials and writing until two days before your application is due – it will only make you miserable.
  • Decide on who and what you need – When you begin writing, figure out who you’re writing for and what you need from them or hope to get out of their funding for the community you serve.
  • Make a skeleton – Make an outline before you start writing.
  • Be brief – Keep brevity in mind with your writing and try to edit yourself.
  • Use bullet points where appropriate – Bullet points make your writing easy to read and help keep it succinct. They also make reviewing your application easier.
  • Make a template/use old applications – To save time, write a formal program plan and use it and/or old applications to help you flush out current applications. Be sure and update any information and statistics.
  • Illustrate your points with stories – Where possible and appropriate, use anecdotes to illustrate your point. Data can be dry and abstract while stories offer details for people to connect to.
  • Make sure to follow instructions – Don’t make the common mistake of forgetting to thoroughly double check all of the instructions.
  • Use another set of eyes – Have another staff person, board member, or colleague you trust read through, review, and edit your writing. For very small programs this is an excellent task for board members.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource

External Resources

Collected from around the web
There are a number of external resources that contributed to the development of Harm Reduction Hacks. Here are a selection relating to this section:


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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