Grantwriting Tips

I. Summary/Cover Sheet (1 page)

  • DO THIS LAST! Don’t even think about writing the Summary until you have completed the whole proposal.
  • Include key ideas from each section of your proposal: Introduction, Need/Problem, Objectives, Methods, Evaluation, and the amount of money you are requesting.
  • Although you do this LAST, it is typically the first thing read by the reviewers, and it may be all they see. It should be able to stand alone! It is the most important part of your whole proposal.
  • Should be concise, straight to the point, clear, interesting

II. Introduction (also called Credibility or Organizational Capability Statement and may be requested at the end of the proposal)

  • Tells who you are, establishes your credibility
  • Describes strengths, past accomplishments, projects, activities
  • Why you believe you will be successful
  • Convinces funder that a grant to you is a good investment
  • Should be as long as necessary to give reader a solid background (Don’t skimp on this section, but do not ramble. Make every word count.)
  • Letters of support/endorsement good only if meaningful
  • May ask you to describe management of the project: Who is Project Manager and others who will assist/participate, past experience, what skills/knowledge they bring to the project

III. Need/Problem

  • Defines the problem, why intervention needed
  • Describes population the services are directed to, who will benefit
  • Tells what’s happening now and what’s wrong with the status quo
  • Tells what occurs without intervention
  • Describes how you know it’s a problem (needs assessments, surveys, etc.)

IV. Objectives

  • What you will accomplish
  • What changes are expected (behavior, skills, knowledge)
  • What benefits will be achieved
  • MUST BE MEASURABLE! (Directly related to Evaluation)
  • Use “change verbs,” like, to increase, to reduce, to decrease, etc.
  • Objectives are the ends. (Methods are the means to the ends.)

V. Methods (or Activities or Approach)

  • Describes how you are going to accomplish your Objectives
  • Exactly what you are going to do
  • Include details of who, what, when, how, etc.
  • Use “action verbs,” like, to provide, to establish, to develop, to create, etc.
  • Methods are the means to the ends (Objectives).

VI. Evaluation

  • Directly related to Objectives!
  • Describes how you will know you’ve accomplished what you said you were going to do
  • Should be quantifiable/measurable, but not just in numbers
  • Should include multiple ways of determining whether you’ve made a difference
  • Process (formative or conduct) evaluation: Methods to check along the way to see if the Objectives are being met; to take advantage of “lessons learned”
  • Product (summative or outcome) evaluation: Done at the end to determine if program/project accomplished what it set out to do.

VII. Budget

  • Be realistic; don’t fudge or pad.
  • Don’t ask for more than you need (just because you think you’ll get less than you ask for anyway).
  • Do your homework. Although the budget is an estimate of costs, it should be based on good information.
  • All costs should be directly related to activities described in Methods.
  • Provide enough detail to show how costs are related to program and exactly what each budget item is for. Justify costs.
  • Be sure to include In-Kind funds (any donated goods, services, time).


  • Always read the request for proposals or the grant application guidelines very carefully to be sure you write directly to the requirements and include all the elements specific to the individual funder.
  • Important: Do not assume that reviewers know anything about your subject area. Also, do not assume that they know why what you want is important.
  • Be sure to use “spell check,” and proof read carefully for grammar, etc.
  • When you are finished writing, be sure to have someone read your proposal who knows nothing about it. If they understand and follow it, it’s a good test of the clarity and thoroughness of your proposal.
  • Lastly, GO FOR IT!

Source: Judith Ashton, Former Coalition Executive Director, reprinted with permission of the author

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