How to Write a Grant

By Susan Landis-Steward , last updated January 10, 2012

If you are a small business owner or a non-profit organization and are seeking funding, you might consider writing a grant. Grants can be a good source of start-up money because they don't need to be repaid. However, writing a grant proposal is not easy and you need to be sure you follow all directions for the particular grant proposal precisely. Failure to include all required information and documentation would disqualify you from contention, often without your proposal even being read.

The Request for Proposal will give specific guidelines on how your grant should be prepared, what order documents should be in, and what items you must include. Follow these to the letter. Also do some homework; find out what grants have been awarded by the grantor, and if possible, arrange to view the proposals. Also find out what kinds of things the grantor funds. Applying for a business grant that only gives to minority women if you are a male-owned business is pointless.

Most grants require an accurate and detailed summary of your organization or business and what it is you do or intend to do. This is your chance to show how your business will stand out from other businesses. You will also need a section of your grant that tells about yourself and any other principals in your organization. Include detailed information about your business experience, especially as it pertains to the business you are proposing. Make sure the grantor understands that you have the skills to do the job. Also identify people who will handle your accounting or legal needs.

Develop a pithy mission statement that clearly outlines what your business vision is. Try to do this as concisely as possible. Two or three sentences are better than pages of explanation. Your mission statement is your business in a nutshell.

Expand your mission statement with a document outlining your business objectives and how you plan to meet these objectives. Include facts, figures, and dates by which you plan to have completed your goal, and who will be responsible for achieving this. Also indicate how you will know you have met your goal. The more details you can include, without being overly verbose, the better. Include a copy of your business plan and a detailed budget for all proposed costs.

The summary of your proposal is the most important part as this is where you bring it all together and clearly show how your business will work from start to end. The summary should be the first page in your grant unless the Request for Proposal states otherwise. Even so, wait until the entire grant is written before writing the summary, as you will be better prepared to summarize after the exercise of doing the rest of the grant. Remember that your summary will be the first thing the grant committee will read; consider it the first impression and make sure they want to read the rest of the grant.

Also make sure that your entire grant is well written, with perfect spelling and grammar. Your attention to detail, or lack thereof, can affect whether or not the committee will judge your proposal to be worth funding or not.

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