How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal

Competition is intense for private and public grants to not-for-profits, so it is as important as ever to write a winning grant proposal.  Submitting a sloppy and unprofessional grant proposal could undermine your efforts to receive adequate grant money.  If your funding model depends on receiving adequate grant money, you can’t afford to submit sloppy, unprofessional grant proposals. Here are some tips to help get the most from your efforts:

Do your research

Just as you’d research potential employers before applying for a job, you need to get to know grant-making organizations before asking for their support. Familiarize yourself with the grant-maker’s primary goals and objectives, the types of projects it has funded in the past, and its grant-making processes and procedures.  Doing the research before preparing a proposal will save yourself time and effort to determine whether or not your program is a good fit with the mission of the grant-maker.  If you are a good fit, you will be better able to tailor your proposal.

Support your request

Every grant proposal typically has several essential elements, starting with a single-page executive summary. Keep the summary succinct,and use only the number of words necessary to define your organization and its needs. You also should include a short statement of need that provides an overview of the program you’re seeking to fund and explains why you need the money for your program. Other pieces include a detailed project description and budget, an explanation of your organization’s unique ability to run this program, and a conclusion that briefly restates your case.

Support your proposal with facts and figures but don’t forget to include a human touch by telling the story behind the numbers. Back up statistics with a glimpse of the population you serve, including descriptions of typical clients or community testimonials.

Follow the rules

Review the grant-maker’s guidelines as soon as you receive them so that if you have any questions you can contact the organization in advance of the submission deadline. Then, be sure to follow application instructions to the letter. This includes submitting all required documentation on time and error-free. Double-check your proposal for common mistakes such as:

  • Excessive length,
  • Math errors,
  • Overuse of industry jargon, and
  • Missing signatures.

Take the time

To produce a winning proposal you need to give yourself a generous time budget and do not leave grant proposal writing to the last minute. Researching the grant-maker, collecting current facts and statistics about your organization, composing a compelling story about your work and proofreading your proposal all take more time than you probably would think. Be sure to allow enough time for a thorough review, edits and meeting submission deadlines.  Advance preparation can pay off in the end.



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