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Grant Writing Made Easy: A Beginner's Guide to Funding

Updated: May 25

Tackling the world of grant writing can seem daunting... but you don't have to fall victim to the overwhelm. My mantra is "keep it simple."

As a 10-year grant professional, with a 20 million dollar portfolio, my advice is to just get started! This blog breaks down the "elephant" into bite-sized pieces.

To get started, use this guide to get your ideas out of your head and onto "paper".

Creating your tangible boilerplate will propel you into grant writing success!


Basic Parts of a Grant Proposal

1. The Executive Summary

Write this last. This is your "snapshot." It is a summary of your entire proposal. After you have finished the other sections, review and summarize it all in this 1-pager.

Some funders may not read beyond this page, so make it count! This 1-pager must:

  • Grab Attention

  • Sell your project

  • Briefly state the problem you are solving

  • Transparently share your "ask"

  • Briefly toot your own horn- your organization's capacity to carry out what is proposed.

2. Needs Statement

Yes! The funder is still reading past the Executive Summary. Now, keep their attention by describing the problem/ need that you are addressing! Answer this question: Why is this project necessary? (2 pages)

This Statement of Need should be succinct and persuasive and should align with the funder's mission. Remember, your project will be an extension of the funder's reach. They give funds to solve the problems that are of interest to them. Your job with the needs statement is to make sure that they clearly recognize this synergy.

  • Clearly state the problem, with supporting data, stats, demographics, and surveys.

  • Give the funder hope. Paint a picture that is needy, but not hopeless.

  • Make the statement compelling- give it a human face, using anecdotes, quotes, and testimonials.

3. Project Description

Get the funder excited about the steps you will take to solve the problem that is dear to them. Describe the nuts and bolts of how the project will be implemented and evaluated. (3 pages)

Five Parts of the Project Description:

Objectives- State your measurable outcomes.

  • Methods- Describe the specific activities to be used to achieve the objectives; include a timeline to describe when activities will occur.

  • Staffing/ Administration- Who is doing the work? Describe key staff's qualifications, and assignments.

  • Evaluation- Briefly describe how you and the funder will know if the proposal has met the stated objectives. What metrics will be used?

  • Sustainability- Describe how your project will continue, even in the absence of the funder's future contribution.

4. The Budget

Match the Narrative.The budget narrative should match the project description. That is, the funder should be able to tell what your project is about, just by reviewing the budget. ( 1 page)

If the project design is a picture of your proposal in words, then the budget is a picture of your proposal in numbers. Often the funder will provide a fillable template for this portion.

5. Organization Information

This is your organization's "resume." Include your history, primary activities, mission and target audience.Who are you? (1 page)

In addition to referring the funder to your website, social media, etc, include 1 or 2 pages describing:

  • How and Why your organization started

  • Mission alignment ( how does what you do have synergy with what they do).

  • Your structure, programs, and staff expertise

6. Conclusion

Summarize the proposal's key points, in 1 paragraph

Shoot your last shot! Make a final appeal, briefly reiterate what you want and why it is important. Go ahead and release your emotions to emphasize your Why!

Also, it's okay to be proactive and a bit presumptious, by calling attention to the future. You might forecast some of your follow-up activities, that will ensue after the funded grant is successfully completed.

Assemble Your Boilerplate

By completing the steps above, you have done the "Grant Writing" heavy lifting! Now, put all those pieces together in one document. We call this a Boilerplate. Easy! This basic information is requested in most grant applications.

Once you find a grant of interest, you will simply "tweak" your boilerplate to match the funder's specific guidelines. "Writing" the grant is basically replying to the funder's application questions. Then, move on to the next Grant / Funder. You do not have to "start over" each time. This is an amazing time-saver!

Next Steps

Now that you have the Grant Proposal Basics in the form of a boilerplate, it is time to match your funders and finally submit your grant application.

Matching your Funder has two phases:

  • Research Potential Funders

  • Contact and Cultivate Potential Funder Relationships

For additional guidance on these processes, download my instant access playbooks:

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