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How to Write a successful grant proposal

Grant proposals are fundamental to non-profit entities and anyone else who needs funding for projects. While many organizations have grants, such as various foundations and government offices, it can be quite difficult to get a grant without a proper grant proposal. These proposals are typically broken down into nine separate parts. While these nine parts are standard, you should always check the foundation’s guidelines. They may want something different, or they may require additional information.

Before You Begin

Before writing your grant proposal, make sure that the foundation supports your project. If the foundation only gives grants to projects that promote peace, then don’t send a proposal for a project about new manufacturing processes. You should only send a proposal if the foundation supports your projects. You should also have all of the costs and other numbers and figures ready before creating your proposal.

Grant Proposal Sections & Overview

Cover Letter

The cover letter is often the very first part of your proposal, but many people write it last because it highlights everything in the proposal. This letter talks directly to the grant foundation, and it serves as a first impression. You’ll briefly talk about who you are and what you need. The cover letter should only be about one or two pages.

Executive Summary

This is similar to the cover letter because it details parts of your project and proposal, and it should only be a short section. Some proposals have an executive summary that’s a few sentences long, but it can be as long as a page. It should touch the main points of your proposal, and it should entice the reader to keep reading.


Perhaps the longest part of the proposal is the needs statement. You have to show the reader why your project is necessary. Explain the entire situation and assume that the reader doesn’t know anything about it. Don’t just say that your project will help people. Explain the current issue, and then tell the reader how your project will solve this issue. You should also talk about what research you did to find your solution. This part should be like a story that tells the reader why your project is important, and it should also contain facts and data to support your claims.

Goals & Objectives

The fourth part is the goals and objectives. You will explain to the grantor exactly what your organization will do about the specified problem. Never include frivolous goals and objectives like, “find a solution” or “work towards goal.” Explain your goals in very specific terms. It’s also a good idea to include realistic results of your project. The goals can be broad, but they must all be specific. Some writers use this section to talk about the organization's step-by-step process to complete the project, which can be useful. If the goals are too broad or unorganized, then the grantor might feel uncomfortable about giving you money.

This is similar to the goals and objectives part, but it’s much longer and even more specific. You now have to show the reader exactly how you will achieve those goals and objectives. It’s a good idea to logically show how each step will be accomplished. Adding a timetable and saying how long each step will take is also a good idea because it will show the grantor how long your project will last. This shows that you did all of the initial planning. If you have a large organization with many people, then you’ll also want to include the names of managers and project heads so that the grantor knows who is responsible for each part of the project.


In the evaluation section, you will tell the reader how your project will be evaluated. Is success determined by reducing something, such as carbon dioxide amounts or waste, or is it determined by getting people involved in an issue? The grantor wants to ensure that his or her money goes towards something good, and this section provides an objective way of determining success. You should also discuss what data that you will collect to determine the success of your project. Many projects require an outside evaluator, which will cost more money. Be sure to add this cost into your grant proposal.

Funding & Sustainability

If this is your first grant proposal, then you might feel weird about the seventh section. This section highlights your other funding and the sustainability of your project. You may feel awkward saying that you asked for money from other grantors, or that you currently have money from banks or other organizations. The truth is that most grantors prefer this. They don’t want to be the sole investor. Write down any money that you have and any extra money that you expect to have from loans or other investors.

Along with that, you should also discuss the sustainability of your project. Will the project be finished after all of the goals and objectives have been met, or is this only the beginning of a much longer project? Not only that, but if it does go into the future, then how sustainable is it and how will you find extra funding? Use this section to answer these questions.


The second to last section is dedicated to your organization. Tell the grantor exactly what your organization is and what it does to help the community. You should also describe how responsible you are, give a brief history of the organization and state its mission. This shows the grantor that you have been around for a long time, which will increase the grantor’s confidence in your organization.


The very last section is the budget. This section should be succinct, but it should also detail every cost of your project. Include direct expenses, personnel and wage needs, administration overheads and everything else. The budget should be down to the penny, so don’t feel bad about including every cost.