Business Writing/Content

How to Write a Grant Proposal: A Guide for NPOs

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Nonprofit organizations or NPOs are always in quest of grants that can help them fulfill the goals and objectives of their various projects. One of the major areas where they can improve their chances of winning the grants is writing an effective grant proposal. So, this article elucidates how you should write the grant proposal to stand out in the crowd of other proposals.

What Is a Grant?

A grant is a fund, prize, or bounty the government or any organization provides to the NPOs looking forward to carrying out any value-creating project. Grant management is an administrative process requiring grant seekers to go through various phases, from writing a grant proposal, applying for a grant, managing the grant fund, and sharing timely reports with the grantor. 

Among all these duties, writing impactful grant proposals is one of the most crucial steps that can help you win the grant for your project.

What Is a Grant Proposal?

In grant management, a grant proposal is a request sent by the grant seeker (NPO) to the profit or non-profit grant-awarding organization for the fund. Simply put, it is an appeal sent by non-profit organizations to grant-distributing bodies. 

The grant proposal illustrates the non-profit project idea and explains why the organization needs grant money – for which project and how the fund would be utilized. 

The proposal provides substantial reasons regarding the worthiness of the project and the need for the grant to carry out the specific project. The grant proposal should be written in a way that hooks and convinces the grantor that their project is worthy of the grant fund. 

In grant proposals, usually, nonprofit organizations document the major points such as:

  • Their mission or project for which a grant is required 
  • How do they plan to utilize the grant funds to fulfill their mission
  • Project objectives and value it will bring 
  • The timeline for project completion

Key Elements to Include in Grant Proposal

Overview of Proposal Summary

In this section, you need to describe the major elements of your project in the minimum possible words. You can include the below-mentioned pointers in your overview part:

  • Brief about you and your non-profit organization (NPO), along with its history
  • The mission or goal of your project
  • The expected outcomes of your project
  • A touchstone that will determine the feat of your project
  • What makes your project stand out from other ones, or what value will it add, especially in grant management
  • Why should you receive the grant? What are your competencies
  • The amount of funding or support you are looking for to accomplish your mission

You need to provide enough information in the fewest words so that just by reading this section, the reader can have a brief idea of what your organization is, what you are looking for, and what project you are conducting to get a grant.

Statement of Need

Every NPO-related project aims to address critical issues and bridge gaps in opportunities or resources. In this section, you must elaborate on the specific problem your project targets and how it intends to resolve it. Clarify who will benefit from your project, including stakeholders involved in grant management,  and the transformative impact it will bring. This necessitates comprehensive research into the historical context and current state of the problem.

Conduct thorough research into past solutions that proved ineffective, and then articulate why your proposed solution has the potential to be a game-changer. Typically, evaluators view your statement of need as a concise literature review, assessing the depth of your research on the issue and the efficacy of your project in addressing it, especially in the context of grant management.

If your project is targeted at a specific group of people or community, then mention that group or community as well. This section must be able to convince the reader that your idea is with the award, as your project has the potential to make a wider and more positive impact in a certain area of this problem.

Describe Your Project

Now that you have described the problem you will likely deal with, it’s time to elaborate on the project you will use to resolve it. Mention all the key details about the project and the anticipated positive impact and timeline needed.

  • What are your project’s goals, and what are the objectives?
  • What will be the result or outcome of your project? How is it going to add value to the set group of people?
  • How will you assess the success of your project’s outcome? (The method you are going to opt for) 
  • How will you ensure that your project has tackled the statement of need?

Although goals and objectives sound almost similar, their meanings have a subtle difference. The goal is more like an abstract, while the objective is more like a measurable result. Goals are broad statements describing the mission of the project, while objectives refer to a specific statement of measurable outcomes and a stipulated timeline.

Budget Set for the Project

Once you have elaborated on your project details, you need to specify the kind of support you look forward to conducting your project. Whether it is a fund or resources, be specific about your needs. 

Convey how much money you need to finance the project, and also state if you have other funding sources. Usually, grant seeker requests for sum, so it is a good practice to format your overall project budget in a tabular form. 

Also, it is advised to describe your budget with a justification statement that can spell out how much these resources, materials, or equipment will cost and why they play a major role in your project. If you have volunteers or employees to help in your project, then give details about their pay rate as well. 

Always be certain about your fund amount needed, since overcharging or having a higher quote can make you lose the grant opportunity. While underquoting or undercharging can help you win the grant, eventually, you may not be able to fulfill the promises you mentioned in your proposal, which can adversely impact your future funding.

Cover Letter

One of the top reasons why some grant proposals get rejected in the first place is the absence of a cover letter. A cover letter is a perfect way to capture the grantor’s attention and can really step up the game during the proposal filtering process. 

It helps in introducing you as a grant-seeker of your organization to the grant awarding bodies. This letter also includes the brief of the project you are about to propose, conveys zeal for the grant opportunity, and shows appreciation for considering this grant proposal. The major motive for writing a cover letter is to persuade the grantor to go through your proposal. However, it is recommended to keep your cover letter short and crisp and avoid using more than 2-3 paragraphs.

About Your Organization

If you are representing an NPO or other such organization, you need to give a brief description of the organization, what it serves, its mission, its achievements, and its functions. You can also include the docs to show the evidence of your organization, such as it has been featured in some places or received any award for this work, etc. 

Do not forget to present the client recommendations, letters of thanks, and feedback from customers or govt entities, as it will increase the chances of you winning the grant.

Supporting Documents for Credibility

You should include some supporting materials at the end of your proposal to show your organization’s credibility. Sometimes, grant distributing bodies clearly state what documents they need in an attachment; however if there aren’t any mentioned, here are some of the important documents that you can include:

  1. Endorsements
  2. Tax status information 
  3. Valid industry certifications (ISO or Quality certifications), licenses, and insurance(if requested)
  4. Personnel bios of your organization’s volunteers or employees 
  5. Letter of support or recommendation from the allied organization
  6. Evidence of stakeholders that have funded your organization previously, if any

Four Key Tips for an Effective Grant Proposal

1. Write a Customized Grant Proposal

Generally, many grant seekers apply for different grants in different grant-awarding organizations. However, make sure to carefully write the customized proposal for every grant opportunity. The proposal you write must resonate well with the expectations, guidelines, and areas of interest for each grant type. 

Though you can use some common instances in all grants, no two grant proposals must be the exact replica of each other. Customize the proposal according to the organization’s needs. Do thorough research about in which area they are willing to distribute grants, what is their selection criteria, and what kind of projects they have rewarded in the past. 

Also, do a quick research on which grant-making organizations support a request for materials and which ones are more inclined to cover the cost in the form of funds. Then tailor your proposal accordingly, considering all the information in mind.

2. Go with the Grants of All Sizes

Do not neglect the small grant opportunities in the search for bigger ones. In fact, if you already have one or two grants under your belt, it increases your chances of winning the bigger grants since it increases your credibility that even some other grant awarding bodies have supported your previous projects. 

3. Understand Your Reader

Before drafting a proposal, know about the grantor who will read your proposal. Know about the organization and what they do. What are their values? How do your needs align with the organization’s criteria? 

Once you understand your grantor’s preferences, it will be easy for you to present your plan in a specific manner, what vocabulary you should use, how much background you must provide, and how you should project your goal and budget. 

Make sure you provide information that they are looking for, instead of messing it up with redundant and unnecessary data. Knowing your grantor’s interests, nature, and needs helps you craft your proposal in a way to persuades them.

4. Analyze Your Grant Proposals Writeups

Writing a grant proposal takes a lot of effort and research, and even after all the hard work, it is likely that the process may end up with a rejection. Though not all proposals will receive positive responses, it is necessary to justify the objective and write closely about your project so that while assessing, the reader can have clarity about your project goals and fund utilization, regardless of what they decide eventually.


In the competitive grant-seeking environment, the only factor that can make you stand out is your grant proposal. The clearer and more relevant your proposal is, the more chances you have of winning. So, make sure to devote ample time to planning, researching, and writing each section of the proposal so that you can get your foot in the door.

About the author


Sonika Malviya

Sonika Malviya works as a Content Writer with Replicon. She is a bibliophile and loves to write compelling content on a multitude of niches that can add value to the readers.