Nonprofit Grants: How to Write a Proposal

A Look at the Ins and Outs of Nonprofit Grant Writing

One of the best ways for nonprofit organizations to acquire the capital funding necessaryRequest for Proposal to operate their programs is to search for an open request for proposal. Nonprofit grants, government grants, and federal grants generally are given to organizations from the local, state or federal government agencies or private organizations. Many nonprofit organizations are great at fundraising and soliciting donations, but lack depth as they have not ventured into sourcing funding from nonprofit grants.

How to write a proposal

When soliciting a nonprofit, federal or government grant from either a government agency or private organization, it is required that you create a grant proposal in response to the agencies request for proposal. The grant proposal will introduce the organization to the targeted funding source, give them a clear understanding of the organizational purpose and provide a clear description of the planned programs and specific objectives. It will also provide a clear description of the organization’s purposed budget, specific qualifications, and a conclusion summarizing all of the information. If this is an option you are considering pursuing for funding, take a look at the ins and outs of nonprofit grant custom writing to learn the ropes and avoid the common pitfalls:

The Format

The cover letter is generally one page that provides a clear, concise overview of the organization, purpose and reason for and amount of the funding request.

The cover sheet, also called an executive summary, is a 1/2-page case statement and proposal summary. It is the most important component of your nonprofit grant proposal. Referencing the request for proposal, summarize all of the key information and convince the funder to consider your proposal for funding.

The narrative is a 10-15 page portion of the grant including:

  • A needs assessment, also known as the problem statement, is 3-4 pages in length including objective content addressing the specific situation, opportunity, problem, issue, need, and the community your proposal addresses.
  • The program goals and objectives ranging 1-2 pages describe the outcome of the grant in measurable terms; in a succinct description of the proposed project outcome and accomplishments, including your overall goal.
  • The methodology is a 4-page minimum portion that describes the process to be used to achieve the outcome and accomplishments.
  • The evaluation which is generally 1-2 pages details the plan for meeting performance and producing the program/project and justifies how the organization will measure the effectiveness of activities.

The budget clearly delineates costs to be met by the funder and all other funding sources, including an outline of both administrative and program costs. For specific projects, including separate budgets for the general operating and the special project may be necessary. According to general accounting and bookkeeping principles, organizations are to show income and expenses in columnar form within the budget.

The qualifications portion is a 2-page section that describes the applicant, qualifications for funding and established credibility.

The conclusion is a 1/2-page synopsis that presents a brief, concise summary of the proposal stating the case, problem, solution and sources (uses of project and program funds).

Details are Essential

Detailing the outline of a government, nonprofit, or federal grant will allow your organization to effectively evaluate and hopefully add new funding sources to the organizations’ fundraising, donations, and soliciting efforts. Be sure that the grant proposal clearly introduces the organization to the targeted funding source, gives them a clear understanding of the organizational purpose, and provides a description of the planned programs and specific objectives. It should also provide a clear description of the organization’s proposed budget, specific qualifications, and a solid conclusion.

Consider Enlisting Help from a Pro

As all of these points may seem overwhelming – especially for organizations who are trying to figure things out on their own. If you don’t feel equipped with the proper knowledge or resources, or find yourself baffled when asked how to write a proposal, you and your organization may want to consider hiring a professional grant writer.  A grant writer can expedite the proposal development process since they are well trained on custom writing nonprofit grants.  Additionally, a nonprofit grant writer will know what to look for in a grant application, the requirements as it pertains to your organization, and making sure you have the best chances possible for receiving funding. Train and prepare the proposal yourself, or hire a professional grant writer—but do not stray from the option due to a lack of knowledge.

Whether you are interested in capital funding, or desire to assess your grant custom writing skills, be sure to do your research beforehand. By taking a little extra time to get the format right, include all of the necessary details, and even enlisting help from a professional, you’ll increase your chances of funding success.

If you’re still looking for more information about grant writing, you can watch our free webinar Developing Winning Grant Campaigns by Melanie Swift, CFRE

To learn more regarding how to write a proposal, please feel free to visit our Grant Writing page or Contact Us at 407-857-9002

Wanting more? Check out our prior blog Grant Writing for Nonprofits where we discuss how to write a proposal in detail, including smart custom writing, request for proposal format, and the steps to writing a proposal.


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