Let’s assume you know the organization to which you are applying is one that actually has money to give people like you. A grant proposal will rarely be a cold call. Often, you will have been asked to submit a proposal. However, the fact that these people want to give you money is no excuse to not take your grant proposal seriously.

Each organization or field has its own guidelines for the preparation and submission of grant proposals. Make sure you are familiar with these and adhere to them. Your proposal may very well end up in the circular file if you don’t follow directions. Some organizations have forms for you to fill out. Others expect a free-form proposal. Either way, the main points of a grant proposal will include:

  • Summary or introduction: keep it short, two pages at most.
  • Information about your organization, such as what it does, who it reaches, staff size, and why you will use their money effectively.
  • Your subject—project, research, or concept—and why it’s important. Use supporting data in this section. Elements like tables, graphs, and diagrams break up long stretches of text and can be visual aids in understanding your subject.
  • Operations/planning: You should discuss the project participants or staff and describe their qualifications. Also outline how the project will be implemented.
  • Expected outcome is crucial in grant writing. Many grants are given based on the planned results of the project—whether it’s the scientific description of a newly discovered insect or an improved after-school program in an urban environment.

Keep in mind that the proposal is likely just the first of many requirements for written reports along the course of the project.

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