Grant Writing Basics


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Every funding source will have its own requirements for a proposal, so learn what they are and follow them. The following is a sample of the major components that are typically requested in a proposal, along with some tips for writing each section.



Cover Letter
Accompanies the proposal, briefly describes its significance and clearly states the dollar amount for which you are asking.


  • Who signs it is critical.
  • Usually the best person to sign it is your organization’s leader (e.g., the AF chapter president and/or board president).
  • If, however, you or another key individual has a relationship with the foundation, you should cosign the letter.

Cover Page
Presents the most critical information in a concise manner and in one easy-to-find place.

Executive Summary
A brief (usually one page or less) overview of the proposal and the amount of money being requested.

Organizational Description
Once a strong description is written, it can be used over and over again. Components are as follows:


  • Mission
  • History
  • Present programs and services
  • Structure – board and staffing, including the number of volunteers you have
  • Operating budget
  • Sources of support
  • Organizational plans
  • Past history with funders
  • Significant points about your organization (for example, if you are developing a strategic plan, this is key information)

Statement of Need
A compelling description of the need – an analysis of the problem -- that will be addressed if funding is received. Quantifying the need/problem helps!

Project Description
Describes the program and services that will be provided to achieve the desired results. Answer these questions specifically:


  • What will be done? 
  • How will it be done? 
  • What staff and program personnel will be required?
  • What is the timeframe for program implementation?

Project Evaluation
What will be accomplished? How will these accomplishments be assessed?


  • Spell out the SPECIFIC results and outcomes and how these will be measured.
  • An increase in the number of clients served?
  • Program outcomes, such as decreases in pain or improved function as measured through pre- and post-program questionnaires?

Future Funding
Describe your chapter’s strategies for securing additional funding to continue the program after the initial grant period is over. Grant makers like assurance that programs will continue once their funding ends.

A line-item summary of the program/project’s expected revenues and expenses.  Be realistic about administrative overhead and include it when applicable. 




  • Required by the funder even if the guidelines don’t specify that these documents are required. These usually include the following:

    • Proof of tax-exempt status – 501(c)3 letter
    • Most recent audited financial statements
    • Most recent annual report
    • List of the board of directors, including any office held, and each board member’s business affiliation

  • Required if the request for proposal asks you to document the case or reason for asking for support
  • Information that amplifies and/or supports the proposal, but is not required.  Examples include:


    • Letters of support from collaborating organizations
    • A program brochure
    • Most current newsletter





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