How to Write a Grant Proposal

Contrary to what the emails that fill your inbox and the guy in the funny suit on late night TV may say, true grants are very difficult to find. But finding the right grant is only the first step in the process. The second part, properly completing the grant application, is where most grant seekers fail. Whether it's for a business or organization, writing a grant proposal is a skill that must be learned.


  1. Read and re-read the directions if you want your proposal to be read and considered. Every grant has rules and directions that must be followed exactly. If it says that the grant must be submitted via the online form, don't even bother to ask if you can fax it in. Unlike employment applications where it sometimes pays to be "original", grant committees have rules in place for a specific reason, and they expect them to be followed to the letter. To do otherwise may mean that your application will be disqualified before it ever gets read.
  2. Determine if your proposal is what the funder actually funds. Don't assume that just because there is a significant amount of money available, that they will fund just anything. The truth is that funders are often very specific in what they are looking for (and sometimes a bit odd, but that's their choice) and will rarely deviate from their "category". You may have the very best purple widget in the world, but if the grant is only for the producers of red widgets, you won't get the grant.
  3. Start with an outline that clearly follows each step of your plan, then expand each point as needed to fully explain your plan.
  4. Make sure that your goals and objectives are clearly laid out and specific. If you say "I want this grant so that I can help the community" you won't get nearly the credibility as you would by saying "This grant will allow us to buy 2 new computers, and create 2 part-time paid staff positions in an area where jobs for high school students are very difficult to find."
  5. Take the time to research and evaluate the actual expenses. Don't estimate. In a grant proposal, guesses just won’t make it. If a grant reviewer suspects that your financial sheet is not accurate, you just lost the grant. Find out exactly what kind of equipment, labor, and anything else you are going to need and exactly what the cost will be, then spell it out in the proposal.
  6. Have at least two other people outside of your organization read the proposal and then ask them questions about your concept. If they cannot explain what you are trying to do, chances are the grants committee won't either. And they won't fund what they can't comprehend.
  7. Show the funding committee that you take the proposal seriously by carefully proofing it for spelling, typing and grammatical errors. Take time to have at least two people proofread your proposal before you submit it - and then read it again yourself to make sure.



  • Give yourself enough time. Don't throw the proposal together in order to meet the deadline because it shows. A good proposal package takes time to assemble and research properly. If you really want the money, then spend the time to put it together correctly, without shortcuts.


Melody Wigdahl, Brett, Flickety, Edge, Travis Derouin, Krystle

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