Overall, grant proposals ask you as the applicant to address four key areas:
- Current situation
- Project plan
These four sections make up the body of your grant proposal and should provide a clear, comprehensive image of why you’re applying for the grant in the first place, what your specific plan is, why your organization is trustworthy to follow through on the project, and how the awarded grant funding will be spent on the project.
As an applicant, you’re requesting grant funding to address a specific issue in your community; however, your reader’s familiarity with that issue can vary. For instance, a local funding source from Spokane may be familiar with the difficulties of securing a strong, consistent internet connection in most parts of eastern Washington, while a funding source from Los Angeles may not understand or appreciate the difficulty of Palouse area residents to acquire a reliable internet connection. Current situation sections should 1) provide a history of the problem you want to address through a grant-funded project, 2) the causes of the problem, and 3) the likely consequences of not addressing the problem you’ve identified.
The project plan clearly outlines your specific approach for addressing the problem you identified in your “current situation” section. Project plans are usually organized in a step-by-step manner that explain how you will complete the project. Project plans, though, should not only answer the question of “how” you will complete the project, but should also address why the steps you introduced are the best way to implement the project and solving the issue you identified.
Depending on how elaborate your proposed project is, you might consider organizing your steps into “major” and “minor” steps to give the funding source the best possible picture of your plan. For example, if you’re writing a grant proposal for a kid’s summer camp through the local library, you might define Step 1 of your plan as gathering information to shape possible camp activities, and you could list the minor steps of 1) circulating a survey among local PTAs, 2) conducting interviews with parents, teachers, and school administrators, and 3) performing secondary research on other similar programs.
When applying for grant funding, you not only need to get the funding source to like your project, you need them to like your organization too. The qualifications section of a grant proposal should assure the funding source that you and your organization can be trusted with the awarded amount. The qualifications section should also stress to the reader not only why your organization is trustworthy, but why you’re uniquely handled to carry out the project you’re proposing.
While the project you’re proposing might only involve a few members of your organization, you’ll still want to provide your reader with a description of those involved, from top to bottom. There are three core areas to address when detailing your organization’s qualifications: 1) Description of the personnel, 2) Description of your organization, and 3) Experience of your organization.
Starting with the most specific information on your qualifications, you’ll want to identify each individual who will work on the project and their title relevant to the project. For each member of the team, you’ll want to identify them by name and title relevant to the project, followed by 1-2 paragraph biography that illustrates their work within the organizations and qualifications as it relates to carrying out the project. In terms of section organization, start with the team leader or manager, then follow with members by their contribution to the project. For example, your “Community Partner Liaison” might be listed before your “Intern” because your Community Partner Liaison performs more complex tasks and works more consistently on the proposed project than the organization’s Intern.
After you let your reader know who will be working on the project and what their qualifications are, you’ll want to provide information about your organization overall. Funding sources are interested in knowing how your organization’s mission and goals align with theirs. Discussing your organization’s history, mission statement, and available facilities provides the reader with a better picture about the larger organizational support you’ll receive if your team is awarded grant funding. Alongside your organization’s history and goals, it’s important to emphasize the organization’s more recent experiences designing and implementing similar projects. You want to emphasize to your reader that your organization is qualified to handle the project because you’ve successfully carried out similar projects in the past.
Budget sections are arguably the most important component of your grant proposal. You want to make it clear how you and your organization will use the awarded money, as well as how those spending choices reflect the overall goal of your proposed project. Regardless of the funding source, you will likely need to address, to some degree, the following areas as they relate to your specific project:
Direct labor refers to those who are paid on an hourly basis and who usually have direct involvement with the proposed project.
Indirect labor refers to those who are paid hourly to perform tasks that support direct labor. While indirect labor might not perform tasks immediately relevant to the proposed project, their work is still integral to the project’s success.
Facilities and Equipment
Facilities and equipment refers to any and all buildings, equipment, and/or machinery needed to successfully complete the project.
Direct materials refers to the materials required to complete the project. For example, if you’re proposing to make new trail markers for the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail, direct materials might include paint, large boards, and nails.
Indirect materials refers to the materials used for and/or during the project but are not seen in the final project itself. For instance, if you’re proposing to make and install new trail markers for the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail, the cost of gas to install the finished trail markers along the trail itself could be considered an indirect material.
Travel refers to any and all costs associated with getting you where you need to go to successfully complete the project. For example, if you’re proposing to collect gently used winter coats for local elementary schools, you could include the cost of renting a moving van to pick up and transport all collected items back to your organization’s HQ.
Communication refers broadly to all forms of contact you will have to successfully complete the project.
- Phone, fax, and internet costs
- Cost of printing materials
- Cost of postage for sending materials and correspondence
- Account costs for videoconferencing software (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Teams, etc.)
Opening and Closing Paragraphs
When writing out your budget section, you’ll want to sandwich your specific, detailed costs between strong introduction and conclusion paragraphs. More specifically, your introduction paragraph should clearly indicate that you’re about to discuss the budget of the proposed project and provide the reader with an organizational roadmap for the section. Your closing paragraph should rationalize the costs you discussed as they relate to not only successfully completing the proposed project, but doing so in a way that reflects the overall purpose and goals for the project.