How To: Write a Grant

Grant writing can be a very subjective process. Many funders are very specific in what they are looking for in proposals. While there is no one way to write a grant, there are a few basic components that most foundations / corporations require. My list may or may not include aspects, to make sure – READ THE DIRECTIONS FIRST.


1. Introduction + Organizational Information

Who are you? What do you do? Why are you so awesome that an organization or company should give you funding? This is where some non-profits are tempted to change their mission statements to fit the grant they  are applying for. DON’T. As tempting as it might be, it just isn’t sustainable in the long run, and it is hard to explain to your constituents why you decided to change you mission. There are ways to frame your mission in a light that lends itself to the funding without changing your entire direction.


2. Need Statement (Summary)

This is probably the most important section. It’s necessary for a non-profit to write out exactly how the funds are going to be used. Use percentages to show much of the money would be used for administration, project implementation, etc. This is also where you need to stress why you really need this money. If you have data, show how the implementation of your project or program will, for example, reduce hunger, promote civility, or help clean up the environment.


3. Goals and Objectives + Program Design

This is where you need to break down the program implementation plan. The more detailed your program design is, the easier it will be to identify goals and objectives. Bullet points and logic models will show short and long-term goals. It is important to be as specific as possible – phrasing is crucial. If the funders focuses on youth empowerment, show how the objectives of your program will lead to  increasing youth empowerment.


4. Evaluation

No funder wants to throw money down the drain; they want to know tat the program they are giving money to is using it at optimum capacity. List how you collect data on your program: surveys, people served, etc. If you have the materials that you are using to evaluate, you should attach them as an appendix.


5. Sustainability

If the funding lasts for two years, a foundation or corporation doesn’t want to see the program fail in the third year. Will you try to obtain other grants? Larger individual donations? The funders want to see how their investment will succeed beyond their funding.


6. Budget + Financials

Break down the project costs line by line. Every expense needs to be accounted for. Sometimes funders will ask for a full organizational budget, or sometimes a proposed budget using the proposed funding. They also might ask you to included your IRS tax exemption letter in your appendix. Don’t include unasked for financial documents. Many of these foundations are receiving a plethora of applications, and extra information will be seen as a negative.


7.   Sending it off!

Whether you are sending your proposal through the mail or electronically, you want it to look put together and professional. A short note in the body of the email or in the envelope will help introduce you in a professional manner before anyone reads your proposal. If sent by email, make sure all attachments are clearly identified and organized. If you are mailing it in, a binder with tabs looks professional and organized. If your appendix has many sections, include a table of contents at the beginning of the proposal.


Good luck and happy writing!

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