Grant Proposal Template
1. Cover letter: Addressing the funder
It's generally accepted that the cover letter is the last thing you should write, although the grantee will usually read it first.
In the cover letter, you should address the grantee directly and give them a good idea of what you're going for with your application. It should be a quick and effective read to make them want to get to the rest of your proposal and find out more. It's also good practice to start with the amount of money you'll need—be confident and direct.
Here is a cover letter template you can use.
Dear Mr./Mrs. [name],
The [organization] kindly requests [$ figure] for a [project, e.g. a community-built dog park] in [exact neighborhood]. We look forward to partnering with you in what we believe will be an impactful project for our entire community and an important step in your mission to [founder's mission].
The main objective of our proposed project is to [objective, e.g. help the students from the community improve reading, writing, and language comprehension skills] over the course of [period]. We plan to achieve this by [methods]. We would like to see measurable progress in [period] and we'll specifically be looking at [key goals] as our key success indicators.
With your funding, we will be able to:
[outline the specifics in which the grant will help you execute the program].
We appreciate the [founder's organization] taking an interest in helping our local community and for considering investing in our program. Please give me a call at [number] if you have any questions or require additional information.
2. Executive Summary
This is the section where you need to give an overview of your funding proposal. Think of it this way: identify the crucial points in each of the latter sections and put those points in your summary.
Introduce your project, your organization's history and know-how, as well as your plans and goals.
The [your organization] was established in [year] by [founders] who had a vision to [specific vision, e.g. create new learning opportunities for local students]. The [organization] currently operates in [city/cities] and serves more than [number] of people through a variety of long and short-term programs. Our mission is to [wider mission, e.g. to empower the local youth both socially and intellectually, help them maximize their potential, and improve their quality of life].
We are aware of the unique educational and social challenges that our youth community faces on a daily basis and are committed to adapting our organization to meet their needs.
Our program objectives include [list specific objectives, e.g. to improving reading and comprehension for at least X% of 3rd-grade students; improving college admission rates by X%, etc.] The project will run for [period], after which we will re-evaluate. The next step will be to establish a scalable process that could be implemented in other communities we're working with.
We believe that this program will help introduce our services to an underserved [population]. By the program's end, we anticipate [overall goals, e.g. improved quality of life, better educational outcomes, etc.] for [population].
The total cost of implementation for this project is [$ amount]. Your investment of [$ amount] will help us complete the funding to implement the program in our first community and start driving change for a critical group of people.
We are excited to collaborate with you on making our local community better and achieving our common goals. Thank you for considering our project.
3. Statement of need: What is the problem?
Your statement of need (also known as needs statement or problem statement) is the meat of your proposal.
Any effective grant proposal needs to answer these two important questions:
- What is the need that you're trying to address?
- Why is your organization the right candidate to fulfill that need?
You answer these questions by combining quantitative (stats, research studies, and other data) and qualitative data (stories, real-life examples, testimonies, etc).
Below is what a good needs statement would look like. However, be advised that this is the most important part of your grant proposal and it absolutely needs a lot of data and case-specific information.
In other words, the template below should serve as inspiration, rather than a model that you can instantly copy-paste. Each research project, community care center, school program, and communal institution will have vastly different project descriptions and needs statements.
The city of [city/town] has been steadily declining in [problem, e.g. employment rates] for the past [period]. According to a study by [respected institution], [relevant stat, e.g. the unemployment rate has climbed from 4.4% in early 2007. to 7.2% in 2019]. Since the last census, [relevant data, e.g. yearly family incomes have also decreased overall, dropping to $26.661 this year].
[Continue describing the issues for at least 3-4 paragraphs]
There is a growing need for [services] executed by professionals and distributed across the community with a strong infrastructure.
To address these issues, we propose a [program] that would aim to [achieve specific goals] in [specific period].
4. Goals and objectives: Getting specific
If your needs statement describes what issues there are, your goals and objectives section needs to tell the grantee what your solutions are.
This is another very important section in the grant writing process because it shows your potential funder exactly how pragmatic and goal-oriented your project is. It essentially tells them whether the grantor has a good project timeline and a strong grasp of the solution to the problem outlined in the previous section.
Goals are typically broad and slightly idealistic. Objectives, on the other hand, are measurable outcomes that can be expressed (often numerically).
Here is a template for your Goals and Objectives section.
The overarching goal of [your organization] is to [big-picture goal, e.g. provide legal Arab immigrants with sufficient language and culture understanding skills for better integration into the local community]. We hold the following targets for delivery:
- [First measurable objective, e.g. Recruit at least 5 local language schools that are willing to provide learning services to immigrants];
- [Second measurable objective, e.g. Enroll a minimum of 100 students for 36 classes, March through May]
- [Third measurable objective, e.g. Ensure that at least 70% of students have passed their A2 exams by the end of May]
- And so on.
5. Methods and strategies: Time for execution
Now that you've let the funder know what you want to achieve, it's time to go into the how.
In the Methods and Strategies section, your job is to outline all the specific requirements of your project: which staff members you need, what is the expected timeline for each part of the project, etc.
You need to make sure your methods are firmly and obviously tied to three things:
- The needs statement;
- Project objectives;
- Project budget.
Here is a template for this section.
First objective:[one of your measurable objectives, eg. Ensure that at least 70% of students have passed their A2 exams by the end of May]
- [Method no.1, e.g. Employ two full-time program administrators that will unify the curriculum, recruit students, and be their main point of contact]. End date: [end date].
- [Method no.2, e.g. The program administrators will have their second-week check-in with the teachers to identify the students' starting levels and sort them into three groups: 1. fast learners; 2. moderates; 3. slow learners]. End date: [end date].
- [Method no.3, e.g. The program administrators and teachers will form three classes comprised of equal percentages of students from all three groups, establishing extra-curricular activities for the "slow learners"]. End date: [end date].
- [Method no.4, e.g. The collaborating schools will organize the first monthly A1 test in the first week of April to get the first students to the next step]. End date: [end date].
6. Evaluation plan: How will you measure success?
In this section, you need to explain to the reader how exactly you're planning to assess the implementation of your program.
Whatever grantee you're sending your request to, they'll all want to see their investment making a difference. That's why it's important for you to demonstrate that you have a plan in place that will show them, without a doubt, how effectively you're implementing the project.
There is one important choice to be made here: whether you're going to evaluate the program internally or use external expertise for evaluation. For nonprofit grants, 5-10 percent of the budget is expected to be invested in evaluation.
Here is a template for this section.
The program facilitators will administer [evaluation method, e.g. a set of pretests] to evaluate [metric, e.g. the level of knowledge of each student] before the start of the program, at [period].
After the [mentioned evaluation method], the program will be continuously evaluated by an [external or internal] team comprised of [people and their titles]. For the [period, e.g. two-week] duration of the program, a plan will be designed to evaluate all aspects of the program, including but not limited to:
- [Evaluation method no.1, e.g. a comparative study of X];
- [Evaluation method no.2, e.g. a sample population study of Y];
- [Evaluation method no.3, e.g. a longitudinal study of the effect of X on Y];
- And so on.
7. Project budget: How will you spend the money?
In proposal writing, this part of the process is often the most feared and stressed about.
A lot of writers can craft a perfect proposal letter but get stuck on the project budget section. This happens for a good reason—writing a good budget takes a lot of time, research, and precision. You need to explain which amount of funding is going to be used for which purposes, all while relying on precise pricing information.
That's why the grant writers that win proposals consult with other people in their organization—accountants, marketers, inventory managers—to work on the budget together.
Here is a budget template you can use. Remember: be as specific as possible and leave nothing out!
8. Organization information: Ending with a "signature"
To end your proposal, you need to enter your organization's information, starting from your legal status, all the way to the biographies of your key personnel.
A lot of times, the exact information you need to provide here will be specified in the RFP (Request for Proposal) but it's generally considered that this section needs to demonstrate that your organization:
- Is managed by qualified people;
- Understands (and is active in) the community;
- Is financially stable;
- Provides essential services.
Here is how this section can look.
The [organization] was established as a [legal status, e.g. 501(c)(3) organization] in [year] when [a group of people] decided to [fulfill a mission]. Today, we are [current state, e.g. the largest youth organization in city X, counting more than Y members]. Since our first project in [year], we have proudly served over [number] of [population, e.g. young people] in [community].
Our mission is three-fold:
- [mission objective 1]
- [mission objective 2]
- [mission objective 3]
Currently, we operate [amount] programs mostly focused on [mission]. Some of our latest projects include:
- [Completed project 1]
- [Completed project 2]
- [Completed project 3]
In the past [amount] years, we've managed to [result, e.g. provide housing for over X people from devastated areas] and [result, e.g. enable Y of those people to find employment and private housing].
The [organization] is lead by our Board of Directors which includes:
- [Board member 1, short bio]
- [Board member 2, short bio]
- [Board member 3, short bio]
- [Board member 4, short bio]
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