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It always takes time and effort to win a competitive grant. Eventual success requires a high degree of readiness and planning. Often it is difficult to know where to start. Having answers to basic questions often makes the entire process far less intimidating.

1. How Can We Prepare for a Grant Proposal?

Create or activate a broad-based proposal development team. Start by defining a local problem, documenting local priority needs, and reviewing existing local, regional, and state plans of action related to the problem and the needs. Identify funders who interested in similar problems and similar needs.

A strong proposal will match local unmet needs and priorities with those of each potential funder. Each funder will describe its interests in its publications; each proposal solicitation and each solicitation’s selection criteria will reflect them. After you have selected the specific funder and a funding opportunity, the selection criteria will offer a starting point for creating your proposal. Responding clearly to each funder’s criteria will help to ensure your proposal’s success.

2. What Parts Do Grant Proposals Have?

In general, a typical proposal has a narrative, a budget, and attachments. The narrative responds to explicit prompts, often called selection or review criteria. It discusses need, a plan of action, organizational capacity, staff qualification, evaluation, and budget. The budget itself consists of line items. Each line item falls under a specific cost category. Common types of cost categories are personnel, travel, and supplies – among others. The more completely your application meets specific funder’s requirements, the more likely the funder is to conclude you are worthy of funding.

3. Do Grant Proposals Have Other Parts?

Many proposals may need an abstract, a table of contents, and a transmission letter. Many applications also include several attachments or appendices, which vary widely in required number and type. Proposals for government grants often require special standard forms, such as an executive summary or a budget summary. Some foundations and corporations also require special application forms. Such forms may be unique to a specific funder or may be common among several of them.

No matter who requires them, many such forms require certifications and signatures from chief executive officers. In addition, a funder may require proof of eligibility, proof of non-profit status, names and affiliations of board members, audited financial statements, and similar supporting materials.


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