When you write a grant proposal, resist the temptation to talk too much about your organization. Successful grant writers explain to potential donors or grantors why their organization or activity helps the donor reach its goals. Match your activities with a potential donor’s mission to increase your chances of success.
Some donors review hundreds or thousands of grant proposals each year. To make it easier to get through these requests, foundations use a standardized form and/or process to quickly put proposals into A, B and C piles. Visit the organization’s website to learn how they want proposals submitted. No matter how worthy your organization is, you may not get your proposal read if it’s not in the correct format.
Don’t write a generic grant proposal talking about your organization with the intent of sending it to multiple donors. You can create a boilerplate proposal, but tailor it to each donor you solicit. Visit the potential grantor’s website and look for their mission statement. Look for examples of other grants they’ve given.
For example, if you are looking for funds for an after-school soccer program, don’t emphasize soccer; highlight the benefits of youths playing soccer. If your donor seeks to decrease drug use among teens, include in your proposal information from studies that show youth athletics decreases drug use among teens. Include statistics from reputable surveys.
Include a short cover letter with your proposal highlighting what you are sending. Include the name of the grant for which you are applying, the name of your program and the amount of funding you are seeking. Include a paragraph describing how your program meets or matches the needs or mission of the grantor. Keep this to half a page or less.
Start with an executive summary, which summarizes the main points of your proposal. Tell the reader what she is about to read and why. Include the purpose, methods and expected results of your request. Do not include details; they should be covered by the actual proposal. Limit an executive summary to one or two short paragraphs.
Include a contents page with page numbers for easy reference. Use headings on each page to break the document into specific ideas or areas for easier reference.
Start with a paragraph explaining how the purposes of your organization and the mission of your donor match. Using our soccer example, you would show that you are using soccer to improve the lives of teens.
Give your nonprofit status, per your IRS qualification, if you have one.
Outline your program without using specifics, such as number of staff, budgets or dates. Describe the program in broad strokes, saving the details for a following section.
Include details about the program so the donor sees you are organized. Give historical numbers to show the growth or a decline, based on what you want to emphasize. Create a simple, one-page budget showing your income and expenses.
Include other sources of funds. Donors want to see that you are stable and that others believe in you. List any other grants or sponsorships you’ve received or are currently receiving. Don’t think revealing that you have other grant money hurts you; it helps with credible donors.