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Guide: How to Write a Grant Proposal

Writing a grant proposal is a responsible task. Some companies providing grants for various needs may require you to write your proposal in a narrative form; others might want to see a structured and logical list of questions and answers. However, regardless of the format, the contents is usually rather similar. Here are some recommendations that will help you write a nice grant proposal.

Usually, there are three main steps you must make:

  • Describe the problem that you need to solve. It can be a personal creative project that you want to implement; a problem that your local community faces every day; an eco-initiative, and so on.
  • Explain what you want to achieve in regard to the existing problem/need.
  • Create a detailed plan of how you are going to address the problem. Your plan should include the estimates of how you are going to dispose of the granted funds.

Below are the more detailed instructions on writing grant proposals. Follow them, and you should be fine.

Decide on the Problem

  • If the problem/project you need a grant for involves other people (for example, if you are planning to organize a public library in your town, or some other public initiative) it is important that before applying for a grant you discuss the problem/project with all those who are interested in its implementation. This way you can be sure that all the aspects of the problem are covered, and that the most optimal course of action has been selected. In order to organize a discussion, you will need to plan a meeting, or probably several meetings, with all the stakeholders (people potentially interested/involved in the project).
  • If the project involves no one but yourself, do your best to objectively evaluate all the aspects of the chosen problem/project.
  • Such a discussion (or evaluation, if you are applying alone) should include the analysis of reasons that caused the problem; this analysis is important because it shows that you see not only the symptoms, so to say, but also understand their underlying premises, and thus can effectively use the aid provided by the funders to eliminate the source of a problem.
  • The same refers to a personal project, althogh the accent can be slightly different: here you should emphasize on how your project will contribute to the field to which it refers, or in which ways it is important and significant, and why you are the person worth giving a grant to.
  • In case you need a grant to solve a certain problem, personal or communal, you should also explain what are the negative effects of this problem, how it affects your life and the lives of people around you, the environment, and so on. This point is transitory to the next step.

Suggest Your Vision

You should clearly understand what you need the money for, and what will be considered a successful implementation of your project, or an effective soultion of a problem.

  • Specify what exactly you want to achieve. Rather often, outcomes are directly connected to the “symptoms” of a problem. Develop your criteria of success. A good idea would be to develop the minimum and the maximum programs: two sets of goals, completing which would mean particular or absolute success.
  • You should keep in mind that grants are mostly provided to projects with realistic goals; for each particular problem/project you will need to assess what is realistic, and what is not. If you ask for money to “solve the problem of hunger in Africa once and for all,” you will probably be rejected. However, there is an important nuance: if you can prove that your goal is realistic (for example, by showing and explaining how exactly you will be solving a complicated problem that otherwise would seem unsolvable), you will most likely receive the money.
  • Think on what measures you will need to take in order to solve the problem; mind that these measures should be aimed at the problem’s causes, not at its effects. Develop your methodology, think over the tools, resources, and equipment you will need for your task. There are two ways you can develop a course of actions. One is to study all the aspects of the problem yourself. This is a reasonable decision if you are working on the problem/project alone, and its scales allow you to conduct independent research. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a problem of a regional scale that affects a number of people or includes a complex of aspects too difficult to cover by oneself, you might want to gather expert opinions on the subject, or even order a professional expertise.

Write a Plan

Now that you have discussed and decided what you need to do it is time to develop and extensive plan that would let the grant-giver know all the details of your program. It should consist of the following sections:

  1. Cover letter

    This part of a grant proposal is neede to introduce you (as an individual, or as a community of stakeholders, etc.) to your potential funder. Do not treat this step lightly, as the first impression a funder receives about you may be decisive.

  2. Executive summary

    Writing this section is rather similar to writing abstracts for various academic papers. In an executive summary your task is to briefly tell your potential funder what you need money for. So far, omit any details and focus on the main outcomes you wish to achieve with the help of the grant yu are applying to.

  3. Statement of Need

    This is where you must do your best ot convince your funder in the significance of the problem you are trying to solve, and that it is you whom they should give the money to. Use all the facts, research data, and other evidence you have gathered when researching the problem to prove your point.

  4. Goals

    The outcomes you wish to achieve with the help of the grant should be listed here. Present each goal as a clearly for,ulated objective, explaining (if needed) how accomplishing it will contribute to the solution of a problem in general.

  5. Present your methods, resources, equipment, and tools in the next section of your grant proposal.

  6. Calculations and budget

    You can make a separate section for all the calculations you made; mention how much money (and other resources) making each of the steps will take. In the end, round up your calculations and present the estimated budget needed for your project.

  7. Appendix/Additional Materials

    All the information relevant to the project but which has not been included in the main body of the proposal goes here.

Do not forget to double-check everything in your grant proposal, starting with grammar and ending up with calculatioons. Submit the proposal to a funder.

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