Writing A Grant Proposal:
grant proposals to get money to make your project happen is becoming more
and more common. Here are tips and resources for writing your first grant!
1. GETTING STARTED
the whole grant application carefully. Highlight all of the questions you
have to answer and materials you have to include. Underline key words or
phrases you might want to use. Before you start writing—brainstorm. What
are the strong points of your organization? Your program? What are your
best arguments and examples? These ideas give you a place to start writing.
2. THE SUMMARY
by writing a one paragraph (3 or 4 sentences) description of your request.
It should include:
your project is
much you’re asking for
summary lets you start with the big picture—the rest is filling in the
details. You may be able to use this summary in the proposal, or as the
first paragraph of your narrative.
3. WRITING THE PROPOSAL
grant applications ask for the same information, but they often have
different formats. Some will have a list of questions. Others will ask for
a “narrative”—the story of your project.
by writing a draft—don’t worry about making it look good, just get the
ideas down and polish them later. Look at the ideas you brainstormed
before, and start with the questions that you have the most answers for.
If you get stuck on one question, work on another one for a while.
most about the parts of your project that they’ll like best—use their
guidelines for clues.
you’re done with the draft, go through and polish it up. Make sure the
ideas are clear. Read it out loud to see how it flows. You may need to
rewrite a lot—that’s okay.
can use the key words and phrases you underlined in the application. But
don’t worry about getting fancy—just say what you have to say, briefly
you’re done with the writing, go back and look at the summary. Make sure
it exactly reflects your proposal—your ideas might have changed!
everything! Reading the whole thing out loud is a good way to catch
mistakes. Have someone else proofread it too.
4. ADDITIONAL MATERIALS
add all the other required materials, which may include:
budget. Be specific and
realistic on what you will need to spend. Show you’ll use their
money wisely. Don’t always ask for the maximum amount—a budget for
$19,870 looks more precise (and is less likely to get cut) than a
request for the $20,000 maximum.
- The organization budget shows how this project fits into your
whole organization, and allows the grant maker to see how much you
spend on administration compared to programs.
of support and newspaper
articles document your success and your partnerships with other organizations.
documents may be requested
for financial and organizational reasons: the 501(c)(3) letter of
tax-exemption; an audit or financial report, and a list of the board
of directors. Make a file with several copies of each, so you have
them ready whenever you write a proposal.
Make it easy for them to say YES!
Make sure the fit is good. Your project should closely match their guidelines. Otherwise, you’re
wasting their time—and your own.
Follow the instructions exactly. They have to read lots of proposals. When one is exactly right,
they’ll appreciate it—and remember it.
them that funding you is a smart
investment—you’ll use their money carefully, you’ll get a lot
done, and you’ll help them achieve their goals.
them that you will give them what
they need. That may be strong evaluations, good publicity, or
knowing that they are really making a difference.
Make connections and build
relationships with foundation
staff and board members whenever you can. People give money to people they know.
When writing is hard…
…talk it out.
it’s hard to just sit down and write a particular section of a proposal.
So instead, talk it out. Have one or two people talk through the section
while somebody else writes down their exact words. Then, see if you can
use that as a start for your written answer—make whole sentences, move
things around, make it flow together. Finally, when you’re done with the
writing, read it out loud again to see how it sounds.
Before you put it in the mail:
a cover letter that includes a summary of your request.
- Proofread everything…again.
check to make sure you answered all the questions and are sending all
the required materials.
a copy for your files.
sure you mail or deliver it in time to meet the deadline.
After you’ve sent it in:
patient. The review process can take a long time
a week after mailing, call to make sure it arrived and is complete
(this is also an opportunity to talk a bit with the grant maker.
the review period, if you have major successes, send a letter and let
them know. If you get an article in the paper, send them copy.