Tips for Writing Grant Proposals

By Stephanie Chase , last updated June 26, 2011

Securing a grant can be vital to finance your individual and organizational needs, but the current competitive atmosphere surrounding funding requires a shining grant proposal that sets your application apart and above the rest. When preparing your proposal, keep the following tips in mind.

Consider The Grantmaker

Before you begin to compare the grant proposal, consider your reader. Research the grantmakers, whether it be a federal organization or a private foundation, and the grantmakers objectives. With a better idea of the types of projects a specific foundation is looking to fund, you can tailor your language to what they are looking for. Highlight the key parts of your project that relate to their goals and mission. Make sure you understand the grantmakers guidelines so you do not waste your time preparing a proposal for a grant that you will later come to find you are not eligible to receive.

Keep It Concise

While you are considering your reader, consider the actual human being who is going to have to read through a giant stack of grant proposals. Do not make them wade through pages of long-winded prose to find the primary points of your proposal. Instead, keep it concise. Be clear. Be to the point. Have your objectives and goals so clearly highlighted that they jump off the page. Save the reader the headache of having to infer what you mean by telling them what you mean simply and directly.

Prove Your Point

If you are seeking grant money, there is a very important reason why you both need and deserve it: prove it. Your proposal must present a compelling argument for why the funding will serve a significant need and help remedy a pressing problem. DO not downplay the important of this need or issue. Use factual support and relevant evidence to demonstrate how your project will fill a serious gap.

Mind Deadlines and Guidelines

Grant money is precious, so the competition over awards is fierce. With that in mind, grantmaking foundations can throw away your proposal, no matter how thoughtfully prepared, if you do not meet their deadlines or guidelines because they have a large number of other proposals to consider. Do not let the importance of your project be overlooked for such a minimal reason. Submit your proposal and all other requested materials on or before the submission deadline, and be sure to follow all of the formatting guidelines set forth by the funding agency.

Cover The Bases

Be sure your grant proposal covers the following key areas. Your project’s purpose: describe exactly what it is that you intend to do and what need you are filling. Feasibility: show that you have research on whether or not your project’s goals are possible to achieve, that you have garnered the appropriate community support, and that you can complete it within the budget you have prepared. Finally, accountability and competence: prove that you and your organization will be responsible and fiscally-responsible with the grantmaker’s money, and describe your plans for being financially transparent regarding expenses covered by the grant.

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