How to Write a Grant Proposal

Most grant proposals don’t have to be the size of a telephone book. In fact, the average length is ten pages. But they must contain the “right stuff”, and they have to be compelling!

The best grant proposals begin with a great Cover Letter. The Cover Letter should be straightforward, to the point, and exciting. Tell the funder about your project, in a paragraph or two. Power up your reader’s enthusiasm. Make him want to open the proposal and read on.

Behind the Cover Letter is the Cover Sheet, a concise statement of the basic points of the proposal. The Cover Sheet states the name, address and phone number of the person or organization making the request, the organizational structure, and the name of the contact person. It also includes the amount of the request and a description of the project.

The Narrative section of the proposal includes the Needs Assessment, Goals and Objectives, Program Description, Evaluation Process and a discussion of Future Funding.

The Needs Assessment section is a statement of the problem you hope to solve with your project. In this section, you describe the problem and you utilize as many facts and figures as possible. For example, if you are seeking funding for elderly housing, you will state the need for the housing, and illustrate that need with demographic information.

The Goals and Objectives are next listed, so that the funder can understand exactly what you intend to accomplish with the grant you are requesting. This listing will also be used to design your Evaluation Process.

In the Program Description, you present a clear description of exactly what you will do with the grant money if a grant is awarded. In this section, walk the funder through the program, step by step, exactly as you envision it.

Almost all funders will request some form of evaluation, so you must design and describe an Evaluation Process. The easiest way to do this is to revisit the Goals and Objectives, and show how you will prove that each has been accomplished. For example, if one goal is to form a committee to hire an architect, the evaluation criteria will be a statement that the committee was formed on such a date.

In the Future Funding section, you describe for the funder how you intend to keep the project running after their grant funds are spent. This section demonstrates that you have done valuable internal planning.

Have fun with the Budget. This is where you’ll get down to brass tacks on money. Include a salary for yourself that conforms to the marketplace. Ask for enough in every category to get the job done – don’t underestimate the costs involved, but don’t waste the funder’s money, either.

Many grants are made for three-year projects; in the event of a multi-year project, submit a budget for each year. If you are requesting only a portion of the needed funds from a specific funder, your budget should cite other sources of funding.

In the Qualifications section, list the names and qualifications of each person who will have a significant role in the project. Submit a resume for each person within the Appendices. If your organization has experience that makes it well qualified to do the project you have designed, then list and explain that experience.

Write a Closing that briefly restates and sums up your request.

The final section is the Appendices, which will include your tax determination letter (if your organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), certification of incorporation and by-laws, a list of your Board of Directors (if you have one), your most recent annual report and financial statements, a copy of your general operating budget, and a list of your clients. Especially important are letters of support. Collect as many letters of support as possible, from clients, government officials, and other community groups.

If you would like to learn how to write grants for a community project, or to start a new career as a Certified Grant Writer, check out our Grants Training Classes at:

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