Grant giving organizations can provide restricted funding for a particular project or program, or unrestricted funding to help cover the overhead costs of running the organization. This list shares strategies for successful grant writing and outlines the typical elements of a funding proposal.
The summary is a quick view for the funder to understand at a glance what you are seeking. At the beginning of a proposal, write a short summary of what you are proposing. The summary can be as short as a couple of sentences, but no longer than one page. Make sure it includes a brief description of the project, your organization’s mission and vision, what makes you valuable, the amount you’re requesting, and the time frame you intend to use the grant.
Statement of Need
This is the meat of grant proposals; it’s where you must convince the funder that what you propose to do is important and that your organization is the right one to do it. Assume that the reader does not know much about the issue or subject. Explain why the issue is important. It is also a good practice to have an overview of the population you serve: How many students? What are the demographics? What percentage of the student body qualifies for free and reduced lunch?
Goals and Objectives
What does your organization plan to do about the problem? This is the section where you outline your theory of change. How does the work you do solve the problem you are addressing? What will change as a result of this work? Spell out specific achievable objectives and results that the grant support will enable you to carry out. Make sure to include the project timeline.
Methods and Strategies
Spell out how you will achieve the goals and objectives you've set out earlier. This can be in the form of a work plan or a bulleted list of action items that you and your team will accomplish.
How will you assess your program's accomplishments? How will you make sure this project is sustainable over time? Funders want to know that their dollars actually did some good. So decide now how you will evaluate the impact of your project. Include what records you will keep or data you will collect, and how you will use that data. If the data collection costs money, be sure to include that cost in your budget.
Any grant proposal or request should include a detailed budget for the project. It is important to build in staff time for meeting, planning, and executing the project, materials or capital expenses, and any other expenses you will incur over the course of the project. Many funders use the 5-50 rule of thumb to gauge whether their funding will make a significant impact, but not leave a program disproportionately reliant on their funds. So think about targeting grants that are no less than 5% and no more than 50% of your project’s budget.
Other sources of Funding
Have you gotten committed funds from other sources? Or have you asked other sources? Most funders do not wish to be the sole or primary source of support for a project. Be sure to mention inkind contributions you expect, such as meeting space or equipment. Is this a pilot project with a limited time-line? Or will it go into the future? If so, how do you plan to fund it over time? Is it sustainable over the long haul?
In a few paragraphs explain what your organization does, and why the funder can trust it to use the requested funds responsibly and effectively. Give a short history of your organization, state its mission, the population it serves, and an overview of its track record in achieving its mission. Describe or list your programs and the background of program leadership. Be complete in this part of your proposal even if you know the funder or have gotten grants from this grantmaker before. If space allows, here’s where you might add an anecdote/story of success that shows the power of the project’s impact.
The cover letter is best written once you have all the other pieces in place. It is a good practice to make sure the letter is formatted beautifully, as this is the first impression your donors will have. The cover letter is also a good place to remind readers of previous funding, conversations, or other specifics of your professional relationship.