This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is tables of contents. Its context is the United States of America.
Grant makers often require a table of contents for longer proposals. Its visual appeal, structure, and coverage – as well as its completeness and its compliance with instructions – can suggest a great deal about an organization as a potential grant recipient.
Look at the proposal’s headlines, headers, and sub-headers as a possible starting point for the table of contents. Use the table of contents to make a strong and positive early impression on the proposal reviewers.
In preparing a table of contents when one is required:
- Use the request for proposals (RFP) as an outline and guide
- Use the grant maker’s specific order of parts and sections
- Use the grant maker’s specific names for parts and sections
- Present a separate line entry for each part and section
- Break up the proposal narrative into multiple indented subheadings
- Present a separate line entry for each budget year’s form and narrative
- Present a separate line entry for each item attached in an appendix
- List all forms included in the proposal
The proposal’s table of contents is an early opportunity to convince a grant maker of an organization’s worthiness for funding. Reviewers may refer to it often. Applicants need to be sure that it is clear, accurate, and easy to use.