Elements of A Grant Proposal
While specific requirements depend on the funding source, most
grant proposals require the following elements:

  1. Title Page and Cover Letter
  2. Introduction/Abstract/Summary
    A brief overview of the proposal with information about the
    institution, its ability to complete the project, need, methods to
    be used and how those served will benefit. This is the first thing
    the reader sees, but it is written last.
  3. Institutional Background
    Describes the institution in terms of its location, demographics,
    mission, relationship to the service area and past successes in
    the project area. Establishes credibility.
  4. Problem Statement/Needs Assessment
    Documents the problem or need with hard data, linking it to the
    funding source’s goals and priorities. What is the situation that is
    causing concern? Why is it happening?
  5. Program Goals and Objectives (Outcomes)
    Identifies anticipated outcomes and benefits in measurable
    terms. How is the situation expected to change as a result of the
    grant program?
  6. Methods/Implementation Plan
    Describes the activities that directly support the achievement of
    the objectives. A timeline may be included in this section as well
    as a description on staffing needs.
  7. Evaluation Plan
    Presents a plan for determining the success of the project at
    interim points and at the end of the project.
  8. Future Funding/Sustainability
    Describes how expenses not supported by the grant will be
    covered and how the project effort will continue after the grant
  9. Budget
    Identifies the costs to be met by the funding source and the
    methods used to determine costs.
  10. Other Components
    May include items such as:
    • Letters of support
    • Personnel resumes
    • Proof of 501(c)3 status

What’s In A Strong, Door-Opening LOI

Some funders require a Letter of Intent (LOI) before you are invited to submit a grant proposal.

A strong LOI has the following pieces:

  • Is one or two pages maximum.
  • Includes an early ask; the intent and amount of money requested in the first paragraph.
  • Describes the need of the population served.
  • Clearly outlines how the money will be used.
  • States how the problems and need will be solved.
  • Ends with an invitation for the funder to call or visit; offers a site visit.

Think Like A Grant Reviewer

As you write or review your organization’s grant proposal, think like a reviewer. Give them specifically what they asked for in the announcement.

  • How good is the idea/project/program? Would I fund this application?
  • Is the application well-written? grammatically correct? Be clear and concise when writing your proposal. Explain why your project is important.
  • Does the budget and narrative tell the same story?
  • Is the project/program sustainable? Does the organization have a plan to sustain the project/program?
  • Is my organization capable of executing this project/program? Did I communicate how we capable are in the application? why my organization is best suited to address the need? how key staff are well-qualified for their roles.
  • Did I answer all the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why)? in what way? by what means? Make sure the reader does not have to search or work for answers.

Don’t be discouraged if you still get a rejection. Funders have a certain amount of funds they can award. Some may have certain restrictions or preferences which determine who gets funded.

Contact the funder to receive feedback, continue building a relationship with them, and prepare for the next grant opportunity or cycle.

Craft An Engaging, Compelling Appeal

First, understand the reasons for why your members and volunteers stay engaged. Then, incorporate ways to get constant feedback from them. Use their feedback and these important elements to craft a compelling and urgent ask for giving:

1. Relevance. Connect the organization’s current project(s) to readers’ interests.

2. Urgency/Need. What critical, timely need in the community is being addressed?

3. Connection. Use a personal story to make the reader feel the importance of your work.

4. Timeliness. Explain why the donor’s support is needed right now.

5. The Ask. Clearly state how their donation will be used. Be explicit. Be specific.

6. Organization. Organize your letter well, proofread, and spell check.