Grant Writing

Grant Writing Helpful Tips

  • Start early
  • Know the funder
  • Read the guidelines and follow instructions
  • Make your summary stellar
  • State directly why the funder should support the request
  • Write in clear, concise sentences using active voice
  • Mirror language used by funder
  • Ask for a specific amount and detail how it will be used
  • Share evaluation plan/key performance indicators
  • Make sure you answer the funder's questions explicitly
  • Have another person—or two—review before submitting

Tips for Effective & Efficient Grant Budgets

  • Start with a detailed review of the Request for Proposal (RFP) rubric
  • This will ensure you choose the best format for your pending proposal
  • Follow the budget categories provided by the funder
  • Budget costs must be (a) Necessary and Reasonable and (b) Allowable & Allocable
  • You can’t spend the funder’s money the wrong way
  • The funding agency and you are accountable
  • Use tables for multiple-year grants
  • Tables make your budget look more presentable
  • Tables help the reviewer have a bigger picture of your project
  • Round off numbers
  • Request quotes from vendors if you are writing a big budget item
  • Include big budget items in your narrative
  • When using the budget category descriptions–be generic
  • Write your budget narrative wisely
  • A reviewer should be able to match that with your project narrative
  • Make sure your MATH is accurate
  • Numbers are beautiful when they balance
  • Ask someone else—besides you—to review

Writing a Proposal

This framework has been adopted by many institutional funders to help nonprofit organizations save time in the grant application process. Please note the following important points:

  • Every funder has different guidelines and priorities
  • Every funder has different deadlines and timetables
  • Any funder that has agreed to accept this application may request additional information at any stage in their application process
  • Some funders choose to provide both general and project support grants, while others choose specifically only to award project grants

Before submitting this application to a potential funder, you need to check to see whether your project or program matches their published interests and what forms of grant support that they will consider providing (e.g., general support, project support, capital grants, etc.). Information about individual grant programs is available from each funder and at the Foundation Center,

General Information

Date of application:

Name of organization to which grant would be paid. Please list exact legal name:

Purpose of grant (one sentence):

Address of organization:

Telephone number:


Executive director:

Contact person and title (if not executive director):

Is your organization an IRS 501(c) (3) not-for-profit?: Yes or No

If no, please explain:

Grant request: $

Check one (based on the organization’s priorities and the funder’s guidelines):

General support or project support

Total organizational budget (for current year): $

Dates covered by this budget (month/day/year):

Total project budget (if requesting project support): $

Dates covered by project budget (month/day/year):

Project name (if applicable):

Please write your proposal using the following format, answering all the questions in the order listed and using headings as provided. Please note this common application document is NOT intended to be a form to complete but rather a format to follow. Please prepare your proposal as a separate document.

Proposal Summary (one-half page, maximum)

Please summarize in a short paragraph the purpose of your agency. Briefly explain why your agency is requesting this grant, what outcomes you hope to achieve, and how you will spend the funds if a grant is made.


Five pages maximum or, if completing an online application, the maximum characters allowed.


Describe the work of your agency, addressing each of the following:

  • A brief description of its history and mission.
  • The need or problem that your organization works to address, and the population that your agency serves, including geographic location, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, and language.
  • Current programs and accomplishments.
  • Please emphasize the achievements of the recent past.
  • Number of paid full-time staff; number of paid part-time staff; number of volunteers.
  • Your organization’s relationships — both formal and informal — with other organizations working to meet the same needs or providing similar services.
  • Please explain how you differ from these other agencies.

Funding Request

Please describe the program for which you seek funding.

  • If applying for general operating support, briefly describe how this grant would be used.
  • If your request is for a specific project, please explain the project including:
    • A statement of its primary purpose and the need or problem that you are seeking to address
    • The population that you plan to serve and how this population will benefit from the project.
    • Strategies that you will employ to implement your project.
    • The proposed staffing pattern for the project, and the names and titles of the individuals who will direct the project.
    • Anticipated length of the project.
    • How the project contributes to your organization’s overall mission.


Please explain how you will measure the effectiveness of your activities. Describe your criteria for a successful program and the results you expect to have achieved by
the end of the funding period.


Please label all attachments to correspond to the bold-faced, capitalized items below.

  • Financial Information—Please provide the dates that each document covers
  • Your MOST RECENT FINANCIAL STATEMENT, audited if available. This statement should reflect actual expenditures and funds received during your most recent fiscal year.
  • Aligned side by side on the same page, your OPERATING EXPENSE BUDGETS for the current and most recent fiscal year
  • List of foundation and corporate SUPPORTERS and all other sources of income, with amounts, for your current and most recent fiscal year
  • Please list pending requests to institutional SOURCES for FUNDING and, to the best of your knowledge, the STATUS OF YOUR PROPOSAL

If project funding is requested:

  • A CURRENT EXPENSE BUDGET FOR THE PROJECT. List each staff line separately and include % of time spent on project. Indicate the specific uses of the requested grant, if possible
  • A list of all SOURCES OF INCOME toward the project, actual and prospective with amounts

Other Supporting Materials

  • A list of your Board of Directors, with their affiliations
  • A copy of your most recent IRS letter indicating your agency’s tax-exempt status, or, if not available, an explanation
  • One-paragraph resumes of key staff, including qualifications relevant to the specific request
  • Your most recent annual report, if available
  • No more than three examples of recent articles about, or evaluations of, your organization, if available


Grant Writing Funders

Please note this list is far from exhaustive. There are many foundations that support nonprofit social entrepreneurship in specific communities or regions. Please visit the Foundation Center,, to research potential supporters for funders in your area.

Acumen Fund


Blue Ridge Labs

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Calvert Impact Capital

Echoing Green

Gray Ghost Ventures

Gray Matters Capital

Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation

New Profit

Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship

Skoll Foundation

Rudolf Steiner Social Finance

Surdna Foundation


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