Grant Writing Basics
Writing a good grant proposal begins with the basics. If you don’t clearly understand your
project and all of its components, then you would do best not to write the proposal. Having said
that, there are keys steps in the grant proposal process.
Step 1. Defining the project. In order to define your project, you must first clarify why
you are doing the project, and write a concise mission statement. Once you have you mission
statement, you must create your scope of work. [A scope of work is basically a detailed map of
your project goal (as reflected in your mission statement), and the objectives needed to reach that
goal (the processes and their outcomes)]. A Scope of Work should contain the following:
Measurable Objectives Implementation Steps Timeline Personnel Evaluation and
Process Objective 1.
Outcome Objective 1.
By creating a realistic, step by step plan to accomplish your project goal, the funding agency will
be able to see clearly that you have the “right stuff” for their funding. This process helps in one
other way. If your staff changes during the project, new staff will be able to easily take over the
project without too much difficulty. Funding agencies appreciate this.
Goal: To im prove access to health care.
Objective 1: Recruit staff.
The Process is to recruit staff.
The outcom e is that XX num ber of staff will be recruited.
Objective 2: Train staff.
The process is to provide training classes.
The outcom e is that XX num ber of staff will attend training.
The outcom e is that XX num ber of staff will com plete training/evaluation.
Objective 3: Create awareness to health care am ong target group.
The process is to reach out to the target population.
The process is to create m aterials or program s or whatever that creates
awareness within the target population.
The outcom e is that XX people are reached.
Objective 4: Create access to health care am ong target group.
The process is that the health care facilities are open to the target group.
The outcom e is that XX people access the facilities.
Objective 5: Provide services.
The process is that services are open and available XX num ber of hours.
The outcom e is that XX num ber of people access the services.
The project outcomes must be written in specific measurable terms. Tell who will perform what
tasks, who will measure outcomes, and what criteria will be used to measure those outcomes.
With this workplan in place, you can clearly see that you will need to find support for
recruitment, training, outreach, and services. In contrast, a different proposal with the same goal
might focus only on building the services portion of the project.
Draft a timeline that takes into account the need for recruitment, development of training
materials, training, development of outreach materials, and any other things that must be
completed before you begin creating awareness in the public. The start date begins with your first
Step 2. Identifying the right funding sources. There are a plethora of places to look for
funding. Some of the best include the Foundation Centers (www.foundationcenter.org), DHHS
(www.grants.gov), the Grantsmanship Center (www.tcgi.com) which provides training in grant
writing, and your local public library. It is important not to limit your search to one source. Once
you begin to look for potential funding sources, compile a database of the funding agency, their
funding criteria, the amounts they fund, the length of their funding cycle, and any submission
dates. Also include a copy of the RFP (request for proposal) or submission guidelines. If you
have any doubt as to what they will fund, CALL, it is better to rule out a potential funding source
before you go to the trouble of submitting a grant proposal.
Look for a match between your project and the funding source by checking for
consistency between the purpose and goals of your project and that of the funding agency. In
addition, pinpoint specific funding priorities and preferences. Again, before you begin writing a
word, make direct contact with funders to make sure they will support projects like yours and
that they are interested in your project.
Step 3. Contacting Suitable Funding Agencies. If your project seems a good match for an
! Request proposal guidelines.
! Request a list of projects previously funded through this specific grant program.
! Request an annual report or funded project reports.
! Ask about the maximum amount available.
! Find out the average size and range of previous awards.
! Find out how many projects are funded each cycle.
! Determine if the funding is appropriate for your project. This may require you to
break your project into pieces in order to obtain adequate funding.
! Ask if the funding agency has other grants or knows of other sources for which
your project is eligible. The funding agency is a resource. Use it.
! Identify a contact person at the funding agency who can address your questions.
Some funders offer technical assistance, others do not. Ask for technical
assistance, including a review of proposal drafts.
! Ask about the review and how decisions are made. Some funding agencies
provide a numerical breakdown of how they score the proposals they receive.
! Ask about budgetary requirements. Are matching funds required? Is in-kind
acceptable as a portion of applicants' share? What may be counted as in-kind, and
how might it be applied? Ask about the payment processes, including cash flow.
Step 4. Acquire proposal guidelines. Read the guidelines carefully, then read them again.
Ask the funder to clarify your questions. Guidelines usually tell you about submission deadlines,
eligibility, proposal format, award levels forms, margins, spacing, evaluation process and
restrictions on the number criteria of pages, review timetable, budgets, funding goals and
priorities, award levels, evaluation process and criteria, whom to contact, other submission
Step 5. Know the submission deadline. Plan to submit your proposal on or preferably
before the deadline. Determine what format the funding agency requires for submission. Some
agencies now require online submission which requires planning and advance preparation.
Be realistic about whether you have time to prepare a competitive proposal that meets the
deadline. Know the agency’s policies on late submissions, exceptions, and mail delays [Most
funding agencies who put out a Request for Proposals have very firm submission deadlines. You
don’t want to miss them since you will be immediately eliminated from consideration].
Find out how the funder will notify you about the receipt and status of your proposal.
Factor this information into your timeline.