A Grant Proposal is a written request to an organization or government for financial assistance for ordinarily a non-profit project but can also be for a profit project.
Once the proposal is approved and the grantee selected, the grantor becomes a partner aiming to achieve the goals laid out in the proposal. The proposal must be aligned with the grantor’s interests in most cases. A grant proposal should be an influential and very much upheld archive for change.
A grant is non-refundable financial assistance (gift, bounty, subsidy, contribution) given by an organization, government, or individual for a specific purpose. It is typically given through a selection process to an eligible recipient (grantee) who satisfies the set conditions for selection. Common grantees are children, organizations, environmentalists, human life/ animal life, social justice activists, etc.
Types of Grants
You can request diverse types of grants from organizations or governments depending on how they intend to use the funding.
Some of the commonly known types of grants are:
Operating support or unrestricted funding
Also referred to as general operating grants, they are awarded to cover operational expenses (administrative costs such as salaries, rent and utility bills, and overhead expenses) within an organization. The utilization of these grants is not restricted hence the name, and they are not devoted to a particular project or purpose. Operating grants offer maximum flexibility and are the rarest type of grants.
Capital support grants are funds given for specific capital investments. Such investments include construction of new facilities, renovation and remodeling of existing buildings, land acquisition, and purchasing costly equipment. Thus, capital support grants are sometimes referred to as brick-and-mortar grants.
Program development grants or restricted funding
Program and project grants or restricted grants are the most common type of grants. As the name suggests, program and project grants are more restrictive and can only be used for the purpose specified in the grant proposal. The purpose is usually to create, support, or develop/grow programs or projects you requested.
Myths About Non-Profit Grants
There are multiple factors that revolve around the requesting and awarding of grants processes.
The most common myths are:
Grantors operate like charity with gifts
Although grantors have significant sums of money available to award out there, it is not given to anybody who asks for it. Instead, grant applicants must work for the grants such that the most suitable candidate is awarded. To ensure this is achieved, grantors usually set demanding requirements that applicants must meet.
Grants are only awarded to big NPO’s
There are different types and sizes of grants that entities can apply for; therefore, even small entities can request grants. In addition, there are no restrictions as to who can request a grant.
It is intricate and challenging to attain
There is a lot to take into account when coming up with an excellent and persuasive grant that will ensure you get the grant, and it is not impossible or limited to particular people. Once you learn the basics and follow the guidelines given by the grantor, you can increase their chances of getting a grant.
Before commencing the writing process, there are several things you ought to investigate. Firstly, getting a clear understanding of how grants work should be a priority. You can consult with mentors, professors, previous grant recipients, trusted advisers, and the granting organization to learn more about awarding and how to apply for one successfully.
Other pre-writing considerations include:
- Entities and individuals seeking grants should come up with a project and develop objectives and actionable plans that outline what you should do and the reason behind the task.
- Determine how the grant will be used to obtain positive results from the intended use.
- Research and list organizations that fund projects for the type of project or actionable plan previously developed.
- Select the organization(s) to be requested for the grant and determine if their mission and vision align with the project’s objectives.
- Review the guidelines put in place by the awarding agency or organization.
- Look for sample grant proposals related to similar projects or submitted to the awarding agency and examine them for tips to incorporate in the grant proposals.
9-Steps to Excellent Grant Proposal Writing
The writing process can sometimes be lengthy, especially if there is no adequate planning. However, with enough preparation, writing a grant proposal should not be a complicated task.
In addition to planning, the guide below can be used to develop an excellent grant proposal:
Write a strong cover letter. When writing the cover letter, keep it short (three to four paragraphs), precise (amount needed, purpose, and reasons why you deserve the grant), and relatable to the reader. You should avoid repetition and compare yourself to other applicants.
Start the proposal with a brief executive summary that introduces the applicant and states what they are trying to accomplish. The executive summary should be kept brief while presenting a complete set of ideas of the request and the project at hand to the grantor. The summary can be of a couple of sentences and one page long being the maximum.
Introduce the applicant. This section is meant to prove that the applicant has the ability and capacity to meet all the deliverables in execution, legal, quality, and safety obligations. Therefore, you should be objective and focus on convincing the grantor why you deserve the grant. Avoid going into too much detail to stay objective. Also, try to link your mission or goals to those of the grantor as much as possible.
Write a precise problem statement. This section will always require extensive research to prove that the solution you offer makes a difference compared to other solutions aimed at the same problem. The problem statement uses comparable data that shows how one solution is translated to positive outcomes. It should also show a sense of urgency and be objective – talk about the main problem without diverting.
Outline the goals and objectives of the project. Goals are more broad statements of what you want to do, while objectives are more definite statements of intention with measurable outcomes/results and a time frame. Remember, goals and objectives are not processes but rather measurable outcomes.
Describe the project. Outline what the project entails. This section should highlight all the moving parts of the project. Including a logic model using graphical representations of the project is an efficient way of achieving this. Ensure to illustrate how the different components are interconnected; it helps the grantor understand the project better. Moreover, your timeline should be specific and detailed about who will do what and when.
Outline the monitoring process or key performance indicators. This information shows that the success of the project can be measured at specific milestones and completion. When writing the proposal, define internal and external evaluation procedures of the project explicitly to avoid ambiguity.
Indicate additional funding sources and sustainability. Outline any other sources of funding (expected or already received). Additionally, grantors consider the sustainability of a project. Grant proposals of projects that have long-term benefits are more likely to be selected. Therefore, illustrating how your project is sustainable can be a significant boost towards receiving the grant. Also, indicate if the funding required will be a one-time request or progressive.
Provide the project budget. At this point in the grant proposal, justify the amount quoted. Demonstrate the services and products that will have a monetary impact. Avoid overcharging or underquoting because this might be seen as greed and might affect the quality of deliverables. Round off numbers to create a more comprehensive budget. Accuracy should be a priority, so carry out cost research thoroughly before quoting a service or product’s price.
Components of a Grant Proposal
A well-written grant proposal should contain specific essential components. Regardless of the format, these components are typically included as they will cater to most of the requirements needed by grantors.
The basic components of a grant proposal are:
A cover letter contains personal traits and accomplishments that can persuade the awarding committee to review an applicant’s grant proposal. Cover letters can be formal or less formal, depending on the situation.
The executive summary/abstract is a concise synopsis of the overall grant proposal. It introduces the applicant, outlines the proposal, project goals, and use of the money.
Information of the applicant/organization’s qualification
The applicant’s introduction should entail pertinent information that the grantor can use to have a clear picture of who they will be awarding the grant. The information included in this section includes history, mission, infrastructure, biography of crucial staff, business track record, client recommendations, feedback from customers, experience, etc.
Also referred to as the statement of need or needs statement. The problem statement indicates a problem existing in one’s community and aims to resolve the problem. A well-crafted problem statement incorporates quantitative data.
The project description gives an overall understanding of what the project entails: staff members, services or products, location/region, deliverables, etc.
Objectives and outcomes
Every project ought to have goals/objectives and outcomes for it to qualify as a worthwhile grant proposal. Objectives can be termed as what the project is meant to achieve. Objectives and outcomes ought to be SMART – measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. In addition, the goals and outcomes should connect with the audience (community).
This section addresses “How” you intend to achieve the set objectives. The information to be provided includes new recruitments, additional facilities, support services to be acquired, and methods and strategies that will be used to ensure the applicant meets the deliverables. Also include aspects such as effective time management, discipline, and methodologies that will influence the quality of the outcomes.
The grant proposal should clearly illustrate to who the project is meant to benefit. Information such as demographic criteria can be provided to clarify the target audience further. Statistical data such as exact figures or percentage of people in a region the project will benefit from can also be used.
The evaluation plan indicates how you will track the progress of the project to ensure the set objectives are met. The grant proposal should show the timeframe of evaluation, milestones, criteria of quality measurement, requirements such as costs and skills for evaluation, and the designated person to carry out evaluations. The evaluation plan should be progressive such that it demonstrates how success will be measured from a certain point at a specific time in the future.
The project budget is a significant consideration in a grant proposal. List all the services and products that will be acquired and the cost implications of each. A reasonable budget ought to have its items well described and quantified. In addition, the grant proposal should have a budget inclusive of indirect costs as they influence the outcomes.
Sustained impact/expectations from the project
A grant proposal can also look into the long-term impacts of the project or campaign. This section can have a strong blueprint of the organization’s vision for the next 5 or 10 years. This section can also include projected costs subjected to inflation, potential future growth, ongoing training, decommission expenses, and the final stage of the project life cycle.
Grant proposals can have supporting documents attached to support your case further. Such documents include letters of support, proof of 501 (c) status, personal resumes, a list of board of directors, tax-exempt IRS letters, etc.
Grant Proposal Examples
Reviewing successful grant proposal examples can improve your writing skills when it comes to requests for grants. Winning grant proposal examples are great sources to note formats, persuasive tone, keywords, and structuring of grant proposals. Most grantors have specific requirements to align the request along with the requirements. You can learn the technique by going through a grant proposal the grantor in question has previously approved.
Grant proposal examples- by types
General Tips for Writing a Grant Proposal
Below are some tips to assist anyone in writing a winning grant proposal:
Pay heed to the agency’s interest
Most grantors will be looking for specific keywords or items during the review process. Therefore, it is vital to note this and incorporate them in the proposal, especially in today’s world where reviews can be done automatically. However, avoid using too many of the keywords (overstuffing).
Collect the entire data
Carry out extensive research on the problem and solution the project addresses and make statements or proposals based on this data. Factual representation of information is key in persuading agencies to award grants.
Customize your proposal
Make the grant proposal more reader-friendly and personalized. When writing to different agencies, ensure to customize the proposal to resemble the agencies’ interests, expectations, and guidelines – these vary between agencies. As much as you can borrow items from one proposal and use it on another, avoid reusing the same grant proposal. Customizing a proposal will often require a bit of research.
Organize ideas with a numbered list
It is recommended that when you are listing items in a grant proposal, you can number them as it improves the proposal presentation and becomes easy for the reader to skim, which might come in handy during the review process.
Do not be generic
Lack of precision (generalization) can hurt your chances of getting a grant. Remain specific to the grant and the project when writing the proposal.
Be clear and concise
Be direct to the point. Grant proposals are not novels of what is going to happen; therefore, they should include only relevant information that the grantor can use to decide on whether to award the grant or not.
Review and get a fresh perspective
Once completed, review the proposal to ensure the proposal is written in a perspective that can be understood by someone not involved in the same industry. Reducing or removing jargon and abbreviations can be helpful to the reader. Alternatively, have a third party review the proposal and ask them to give feedback.
Double-check the grant application
Look for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, calculations, and due dates before preparing the final grant proposal. Also, check the formatting and supporting documents. Finally, review the document whether it has met the grantor’s specifications.
Character limits, font size, page numbers, etc.
- A grant proposal is defined as a formal written request for funds to carry out a profit or non-profit project or campaign.
- The elements of a grant proposal are cover letter, title page, abstract/introduction, institutional background, problem statement, project goals and objectives, implementation plan, evaluation plan, other funding and sustainability, project budget, and supporting documents.
- Research is part and parcel of writing a winning grant proposal.
- Writing a grant proposal does not have to be intricate if you are willing to research and abide by the grantor’s guidelines.
- There are different types and sizes of grants: general operating, program and project grants, capacity building grants, capital grants, endowment grants, matching grants, etc.
- Applicants can request grants from more than one agency at the same time.