Demonstrate How You Will Measure Results
This goes hand in hand with developing your methodology but demonstrating previous performance on grant projects as well as how you plan to measure success on an award application will go a long way. Data visualization dashboards can come in handy for synthesizing this data and presenting it to awarding agencies.
Youll want to show measurable indicators like:
- Number of active grants
- Performance health
- Overall health
Many grants management solutions also help you score grant performance, so you can demonstrate previous success with grants to strengthen your application.
Writing a grant proposal can be especially daunting if you dont know where to start. For a successful government grant proposal, research, preparation and doing your due diligence in determining methodology as well as focusing on outcomes will make your application more competitive.
What To Consider Before Writing Your Grant Proposal
Before jumping into how to write a grant letter, you need to consider some key factors. Addressing these ahead of time, even before you begin your search, will help make the grant writing process much more effective.
Grants.gov lists thousands of grants available to business owners. Source: grants.gov.
Cover Letter & Phs Assignment Request Form
Although optional in most cases, the Cover Letter attachment on the SF424 form and the PHS Assignment Request Form can be used to convey information to the Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review.
- Use the Cover Letter attachment to provide narrative information to DRR staff. The application form instructions on the How to Apply – Application Guide page include a list of situations in which a cover letter is required, including
- Late applications
- Required agency approvals, if needed of $500k or more)
- Explanation of subaward budgets not active in all budget periods
- Intent to submit a video
- Anticipation of large-scale genomic data
- Proposed use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions
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Dont: Overlook Basic Application Instructions
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not adhering to a funders specified proposal requirements. Well before the deadline, review the foundations current application format, submission process, required attachments, and other instructions. This way, you wont overlook important requirements.
Never cut corners! This will come across in your writing, indicating to the reader that you didnt put enough thought and care into it. Ultimately, veering from the directions could land your proposal right in the reject pile without any further thought.
Snoozers And Losers: Why Grant Reviewers Need A Lot Of Coffee
- Not following directions. Pay attention to funder criteria regarding margins, text spacing, and single- versus double-sided pages, bound versus stapled, etc.
- Spelling and grammatical errors. Spell check is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for checking your work yourself, and having someone else read through it to make sure that not only are all words correctly spelled and correctly used, , but that your writing is concise, with clear transitions and good organization. Once again, if theres no one in your organization who can write or edit well enough to make sure that the proposal is grammatical and well-organized, find someone who can to help you. Its important enough to take some pains to get it right.
- No previous experience with work in the area of the identified need / problem
- Lack of community involvement in the planning process
- Overall lack of focus – maybe the proposed intervention is too broad for the issue at hand
- Inappropriate strategy given the problem or target population
- Unrealistic timeline for accomplishing proposed activities
- Weak evaluation plan
- Unrealistic budget, or one that does not clearly justify how the requested funding will be spent
- Lack of potential for the program to become self-sustainable
- Poor organization throughout the proposal. Make sure that all sections are cohesive and complementary.
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Arts Funding Grant Proposals
Seeking funding for an arts program or project? Review these examples for ideas on how to approach your documentation.
- Imagine Fund: Explore excerpts from several particularly strong proposals submitted to the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund program, which provides support for a variety of arts-related endeavors.
- Individual Artist Grants: If you’re seeking individual artist funding through your local arts council or similar organization, check out this sample proposal provided by the Region 2 Arts Council.
Develop A General Proposal And Budget
Because most proposal writers seek funding from several different agencies or granting programs, it is a good idea to begin by developing a general grant proposal and budget. This general proposal is sometimes called a white paper. Your general proposal should explain your project to a general academic audience. Before you submit proposals to different grant programs, you will tailor a specific proposal to their guidelines and priorities.
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Common Elements Of A Grant Proposal
Every proposal, whether its a business proposal or a thesis proposal, is broken down and organized into different sections to emphasize each aspect of the document. Though these sections may have different titles depending on what has been specified by the granting agency, they usually serve the same purposes.
Here are some of the most common elements found in a grant proposal:
Cover Letter: Addressing The Funder
It’s generally accepted that the cover letter is the last thing you should write, although the grantee will usually read it first.
In the cover letter, you should address the grantee directly and give them a good idea of what you’re going for with your application. It should be a quick and effective read to make them want to get to the rest of your proposal and find out more. It’s also good practice to start with the amount of money you’ll needbe confident and direct.
Here is a cover letter template you can use.
Dear Mr./Mrs. ,
The kindly requests for a in . We look forward to partnering with you in what we believe will be an impactful project for our entire community and an important step in your mission to .
The main objective of our proposed project is to over the course of . We plan to achieve this by . We would like to see measurable progress in and we’ll specifically be looking at as our key success indicators.
With your funding, we will be able to:
We appreciate the taking an interest in helping our local community and for considering investing in our program. Please give me a call at if you have any questions or require additional information.
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Individual And Family Support Grant Applications
If you’re seeking grant funding to provide service to under-served or disadvantaged populations within your community, this sample grant proposal can help you figure out what to include in your proposal.
- Kennett Area Senior Center: This application was submitted to the community foundation in the county where the Kennett Area Senior Center operates to request funding to provide needed services and assistance to local senior citizens.
Future Funding Plans / Plans For Sustainability
Federal or state agencies often want to see a long-term plan for the self-sustainability of a project. The reasons for this vary. Maybe funding at the federal or state level will only be available for a couple of years. Maybe funding for a special interest will only be available until elections bring in new legislators with different fiscal and policy priorities. Some programs require a match of funding from the beginning. For example, for every four dollars awarded, a grantee may be required to contribute matching funds of two dollars. Funders will want to know how grantees’ matching funds will be provided and sustained.
Some initiatives will need to be in place for years to come if they are to have a long-term impact on outcomes such as health status indicators.
For example, you cannot expect to get 25% of smokers to quit smoking within a two-year grant cycle, but perhaps after a decade of persistent programming, smoking rates will drop substantially. Therefore, if a foundation or other agency can only afford to fund this particular issue for two years, it may want to know how you plan to continue tobacco use prevention efforts in your community over the long term.
While you cannot guarantee that your proposed program will be self-sustainable, it is important to make your best case for sustainability and describe a plan.
Some things to consider:
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Additional Nonprofit Grant Writing Resources
While these tips can strengthen your organizations grant-winning odds, even outstanding proposals sometimes get declined. As a final word of advice, instead of getting deterred when your nonprofit receives a rejection notice, turn it into a growth opportunity. Ask the foundation for feedback and listen to their advice for improvement.
Now that you know the best nonprofit grant writing tips, apply them to your grant seeking strategy. Soon enough, youll be on track to winning more grants!
To continue your nonprofit grant writing research, explore our comprehensive resources for all your grant needs:
- Factors to Consider When Deciding to Go for a Grant Opportunity. Use our downloadable checklist to determine whether or not you should pursue a potential grant.
- Latest Resources from the Grants Plus Blog. Head on over to our blog to learn about the most up-to-date best practices for nonprofit grant seeking.
Theres a lot that goes into grant seeking. Whether you need assistance with pinpointing funders, crafting your proposals, or any other part of the process, Grants Plus is here to help!
Star Proposals: What Features Shine In The Eyes Of The Reviewers
- Following all directions
- Well-organized proposal sections that are integrated and easy to comprehend
- Well researched and documented statement of the problem
- Statement of the problem or need in a way that explicitly addresses the funder’s priorities
- Creative or innovative strategies for addressing the need / problem
- Feasible goals and objectives
- Measurable objectives
- A sound evaluation plan. Have you shown that you have the capacity to access primary data or secondary data ? Have you clearly indicated whether or not you will be evaluating implementation versus short- versus long-term outcomes, or all three? Have you allocated a proportion of the budget line items for evaluation?
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Do The Proper Research
Writing a grant proposal starts with finding the right funders to partner with and support your organizations work.
Do your homework. Dig deep into learning about your Grant Makers specific priorities. Nothing is more essential when applying for a grant than having the right information. To maximize your chance of winning the award, match your proposal to a problem or improve a situation that the Grant Maker feels is essential.
Jim Durkan, president of the Community Memorial Foundation, in Hinsdale, IL says,
They dont spend the time upfront to research and see if theres a match, he says. I always say that the time they spend researching will be returned tenfold.
: Grant Makers Reveal the Most Common Reasons Grant Proposals Get Rejected
Research every detail of your project to ensure it is feasible before applying for a grant.
How Do I Know If I Should Apply For A Grant And Where Can I Find Them
Grants are most certainly not the answer to securing funds quickly or in a pinch.
However, they are a great solution for nonprofits looking to raise the funds necessary to carry out carefully planned programs.
Read more about where to find grants for your nonprofit here.
Check out winning grant proposals at Grantspace.
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Examples Of Effective Grant Proposals
It is never too early to begin the grant proposal process once you have a project or program in mind. As you research the grant writing process, it is helpful to examine examples of successful grant proposals to get ideas and inspiration. Fortunately, there are many places where you can review examples of different types of grant proposals online.
Give An Overview Of Your Organization With An Executive Summary
When you write your proposal, you need to demonstrate how your team will work together towards the mission. You can indicate the skills and experience of each individual and identify how each team member will contribute to the project. An organizational chart will build credibility in the eyes of the Grant Maker. It can explain who you are as an organization and how you can improve or even solve the problem raised in the proposal.
Also, an executive summary will outline why the Grant Maker should choose your proposal over all the others. It should be specific and focus on results. The abstract helps the reviewers decide if they should read the rest of the proposal. A well-planned summary serves as a valuable tool and summarizes the main points of all the other sections.
Project Manager offers an executive summary template to help sum significant points. Executive summaries are critical for getting projects approved and funded.
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Examples Of Successful Grant Proposal For Education
If you’re seeking funding to support an educational initiative, these proposals are good ones to review.
- Kurzweil Educational Systems: The sample of a successful grant proposal at this site walks you through the complete process beginning with the cover letter and winding up with a sample letter format with all the details in between.
- Salem Education Foundation: Review a sample grant application submitted for consideration by a school seeking to receive funding to provide enrichment learning opportunities beyond classroom instruction for history students.
- National Language Resource Center: This George Washington University/Center of Applied Linguistics grant proposal sought funding to establish a National Language Resource Center to provide support for the needs of foreign language instructors in K-12 and post-secondary educational institutions.
Do: Get A Green Light To Apply
Before spending the time writing your proposal, research the foundations current funding priorities and restrictions. For instance, they may have a specific list of the types of funding requests that are likely to be denied. Grantmakers areas of focus constantly change, so make sure youre up-to-date on what theyre aiming to fund. It may turn out that theyre not quite a match to your organization. Figuring this out early on means you wont waste time writing a tailored proposal just for it to be rejected.
To really improve your chances of funding, call or email the funder to introduce your organization and discuss the project or initiative. Prepare in advance what you plan to say to make the most of this crucial initial phone call. This helps to ensure your proposal is a good fit on both ends before time is spent crafting a proposal. Plus, this may help you determine exactly which angle to take with your grant writing. Dont guess at the best fit or proposal strategyget the green light to apply!
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S Strategies Or Program Design
Walk the grantor through exactly HOW you will achieve the goals and objectives you’ve set out earlier. You may be required to provide a logic model in this section which explains graphically just how the parts of your proposal work together to achieve what you hope to accomplish. Be as detailed as you can with a timeline and specifics about who will do what and when.
Statement Of Need: What Is The Problem
Your statement of need is the meat of your proposal.
Any effective grant proposal needs to answer these two important questions:
- What is the need that you’re trying to address?
- Why is your organization the right candidate to fulfill that need?
You answer these questions by combining quantitative and qualitative data .
Below is what a good needs statement would look like. However, be advised that this is the most important part of your grant proposal and it absolutely needs a lot of data and case-specific information.
In other words, the template below should serve as inspiration, rather than a model that you can instantly copy-paste. Each research project, community care center, school program, and communal institution will have vastly different project descriptions and needs statements.
The city of has been steadily declining in for the past . According to a study by , . Since the last census, .
There is a growing need for executed by professionals and distributed across the community with a strong infrastructure.
To address these issues, we propose a that would aim to in .
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Who Is Your Audience
Think about all the people who will read this proposal. One of your main goals as a proponent is to give your audience a reason to be interested in what youre proposing. To do so, you must gain a proper understanding of the agencys personal mission, professional goals, and values.
Seeing your audience from a more practical perspective offers you a meaningful insight as to how you could present your general plan, what language or vocabulary to use, how much background or history to provide, and the kind of information that readers will consider to be the most persuasive.
Keep in mind that readers may look for different things in your simple proposal, depending on what they find to be the most valuable. Some readers see value in numbers and quantitative data, while others might want testimonials, recommendations, or a historical precedent instead. Its best to conduct your own research on the matter for a more trusted approach.