How to Write a Grant Proposal

How to write a grant proposal.

Writing a grant proposal looks different for each type of funder. You need to customize your approach and style to how you tell your story depending on if you are approaching a private foundation, corporate foundation, family foundation, state agency, or federal agency. As SmartEGrants has been focused on the foundations for the month of April, let’s focus on what are the basic steps to write a grant proposal for a foundation.

Writing a successful grant proposal boils down to if you are able to paint a picture, or tell the story of your proposed project/program to your potential funder in whatever space or formatting requirements they provide.

How do you do that, you ask?

Regardless of the format required by a foundation or the headings outlined for a narrative, you as the grant seeker still need to address the basic questions in each grant proposal:

Why: What community need are you working to address through your proposed project? This is best answered through your need statement. Using compelling, recent, localized, and well-cited statistics is a critical part of answering the “Why?” question.

Who: What is your target audience for the proposed project? This is best answered through your project description. Sometimes a funder will ask for target audience as a separate heading or ask a targeted question in an online form. Regardless, be sure to describe what defining characteristics are shared by your target audience and tie that information back to the statistics you provided in answering the “Why?” question in your need statement.

What: What need in the community are you proposing to addres? What program/project are you proposing to implement?

Where: Where is your targeted geographic focus? Where does your target audience reside? Where will the activities outlined in answering the “What?” question take place? Answering the “Where?” question will be addressed in both your project description as well as sub-sections about target audience and work plan/key activities.

When: When will these key activities take place? When will you measure the outputs and outcomes of the proposed project/program to measure your success and analyze the program? The “When?” question will be addressed in your project description as well as sub-sections about work plan, key activities, and evaluation. The “When?” question is an often overlooked part of writing your project/program goals and objectives in SMART format. What does SMART stand for? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Limited.

How: How will you achieve your “What?” Which activities do you propose to carry out during your project/program? Have you clearly articulated the resources necessary for you to achieve you “What?”

If you are new to grant seeking, or are trying to expand beyond government contracts and grants into the foundation grant world, we have a few great related professional development opportunities for you this week. We will be talking about how to write a grant proposal this week in #grantchat as well in our Thursday Blueprints for Grants webinar on April 23rd at 12pm (just $25 for the webinar handouts as well as both the live and recorded access to the session!).  You can register for the session here:

Register Here

Hope to see you at one or both! Not able to make either? Let us know your biggest question or concern about how to write grant proposals in the comments section of our website, via email, or via our social media networks.

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