Updated: Oct 23, 2020
For anyone who writes grants, we are commonly getting directed back to the guidelines. There have been times where I skimmed through just to write application quickly, but I always look back and see this as a mistake. People working for non-profit organizations are commonly stretched between multiple projects at once, leaving only a small amount of time to write an application. But reading the guidelines in detail could be the difference between being successful and not.
When I read through grant guidelines, I do my best to read everything and really focus on what the funder's goals are. The objectives they want to achieve are the most important factor when I am writing a grant. Being able to tailor my responses to make sure I am ticking the funders boxes, is what I deem to be most important. They read hundreds of applications all with a genuine need for funding, each cause is just as important as the next. If you can show the funder that you will help them reach their goals, it will be seen as more favourable then the next.
Another benefit to the guidelines is the language. I find it really helpful to see what terms and words are emphasized throughout their documents and on the website. I will then make an effort to include these words throughout my application. I think they use certain words or phrases for a reason and by using them throughout your application, you will clearly show that you are meeting their objectives.
When I write grant applications, I commonly have the guidelines document open and refer to it often. Even if I have read it two or three times, I might still miss a really important piece of information. Sometimes they will ask something specific to include in the application or in your submission. If you miss this, your application could be pushed aside because you didn't follow instructions. One example is if they request a specific label in the subject line of the email, you need to follow it. This information can be easily missed or forgotten, which is why I do my best to keep on top of everything that is requested in the guidelines.
I find the information above works for me, someone else might tell you something different or tell you the opposite. But I believe the guidelines are a major part of writing any grant application and could be the difference between getting the funding and being tossed aside.