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Revised in mid-2016, this post covers proposal elements of common grant application (CGA) forms. Its context is the western states of the United States of America.



In the western half of United States of America, at least nine associations of grant makers or other organizations publish a common grant application (CGA) form online. This post explores CGA proposal components such as Cover Letters, Cover Sheets, Proposal Narratives, Attachments, and Budget Information. Later posts will explore other elements of common grant application forms. The end of the post explains the abbreviations that it uses.



As a collection, taken as a whole, the common grant application (CGA) forms provide insight into the questions and considerations that interest hundreds of private grant makers. They illuminate the elements of a complete proposal: summaries, narratives, budgets, and attachments. And they illustrate the types of supplemental documentation that many grant makers require, such as cover letters, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) letters, and financial statements.


West States



There is a common grant application (CGA) form for all or parts of at least 12 states — AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MN, MO, MT, OR, TX, WA, and WI. One CGAF is national. One CGA covers applicants in five states — AK, ID, MT, OR, and WA. One CGA covers an intra-state region — Central TX.



Across the nine common grant application forms, among the observable characteristics are:

  • 2 (or 22.2%) explicitly include Cover Letters in lists of proposal components
  • 8 (or 88.9%) provide and require proposal Cover Sheets
  • 1 (or 11.1%) requires an Executive Summary or a Proposal Summary
  • 9 (or 100%) implicitly or explicitly require Proposal Narratives
  • 6 (or 66.7%) require descriptions of Organizational Background
  • 3 (or 33.3%) require descriptions of Organizational Information
  • 4 (or 44.4%) require descriptions of Partnerships or Collaborations
  • 2 (or 22.2%) require descriptions of the Purpose of the Request
  • 1 (or 11.1%) requires descriptions of Logic Models
  • 9 (or 100%) require descriptions of Evaluations or Evaluation Plans (one of them as an attachment)
  • 6 (or 66.7%) require descriptions of Outcomes or Results
  • 5 (or 55.6%) require descriptions of Sustainability
  • 9 (or 100%) solicit Attachments
  • 8 (or 88.9%) solicit Required Attachments
  • 9 (or 100%) require descriptions of Finances or Financial Statements as such
  • 9 (or 100%) require Organizational Budgets
  • 9 (or 100%) require Project or Program Budgets


Among proposal components listed in only one common grant application form in this set are:

  • Community Context (AZ)
  • Grantmaker’s Priorities/Interests (AZ)
  • Inclusiveness (CO)
  • Board Governance (CO)
  • Volunteers (CO)
  • Planning (CO)


Required Attachments

Most common grant application forms explicitly list an expected set of Attachments. Among these are: Board of Directors; IRS Letter; Letters of Support; Annual Report; Form 990; and Audited Financial Statement. Some also ask for Key Staff. In all cases, the forms require the most current information available.


Components Common Grant Application Forms
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Cover Letter       X X        
Cover Sheet X   X X X X X X X
Executive Summary   X              
Narrative X X X X X X X X X
Organizational Background X X   X     X X X
Organizational Information         X X     X
Needs Statement   X X     X   X  
Goals     X X X X X X X
Program or Project Plan/Methodology   X X X X X X   X
Partnerships/Collaboration     X X     X X  
Description of Request X               X
Purpose of Request   X     X        
Project Information           X      
Logic Model             X    
Evaluation Plan X X X X X X X X X
Outcomes or Anticipated Results   X X   X X X   X
Sustainability   X X   X X     X
Budget Justification           X      
Additional Information                  
Attachments X X X X X X X X X
Organizational Chart, Structure, or Administration X                
Finances/Financials X X X X X X X X X
Other Supporting Materials X     X       X  
Required Attachments   X X X X X X X X
Optional Attachments   X X       X X  
Additional Attachments       X   X      
Budgets X X X X X X X X X
Organizational Budget X X X X X X X X X
Project/Program Budget X X X X X X X X X



In the western states, available common grant application forms were published as long ago as 2000.


  Common Grant Application Forms – Dates Published
  NA 2011 2005 2010 2000 NA 2016 2014 2006


Below is a list of abbreviations used in this post. The common grant application forms are found on their providers’ websites.

  • 1.   NNG: National Network of Grantmakers
  • 2.   AZ: Arizona Grantmakers Forum
  • 3.   CA: San Diego Grantmakers
  • 4.  CO: Colorado Association of Funders
  • 5.    MN: Minnesota Community Foundation
  • 6.    MO: Gateway Center for Giving
  • 7.   TX: Central Texas Education Funders
  • 8.   WA: Philanthropy Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA)
  • 9.   WI: Donors Forum of Wisconsin




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