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Elements of a Grant Proposal

What We Need From You

Basic Information Required to Completed Foundation or Corporate Donor Grant Applications

Grant proposals are often organized in distinct sections. These sections have different titles depending on the guidelines specified by the granting organization, but they frequently serve the same purposes. In what follows, we identify some of the main elements of grant proposals, consider the work that section needs to do, and provide tips for successfully composing these sections.

Letter of Intent

A letter to introduce your proposed project to a funder and to elicit feedback that hopefully leads to an invitation to submit a full proposal. 


What is the purpose or goal of your project, the need you’re addressing, or the problem you’re solving?

What are the expected outcomes of your project, and how will you achieve them?

How will you assess or verify the success of your project?

Why is your project important?

Briefly, who are you?

Examination of the Need or Problem

A brief statement of the need or problem your agency has recognized and is prepared to address. Why is this project necessary.

Program Design

Identifies anticipated outcomes and benefits in measurable terms. How is the situation expected to change as a result of the grant program? A short description of the project, including what will take place and how many people will benefit from the program, how and where it will operate, for how long, and who will staff it. Summarize the nuts and bolts of how the project will be implemented.

Sample Program Schedule

A brief statement of the program daily/weekly/monthly schedule. 

Operational and Organization Capacity

A itemized statement of the program operations team and primary duties. A brief statement of the name, history, purpose and activities of your agency and its capacity to carry out this proposal. Summarize the history and governing structure of your nonprofit organization, its primary plans and/or current activities, its audiences and its services or proposed services.

Evaluation Capacity

A plan for determining the success of the project at interim points and at the end of the project. 

Budget Narrative and Alignment

An explanation of the amount of grant money required for the project and what your plans are for funding it in the future. Summarize financial description of how the funds will be used to implement the project with explanatory notes.

Other Components Sometimes Required 

Cover letter

Sometimes grant proposals are preceded by a cover letter. These often serve to personally introduce you as the grant-seeking individual/organization, establish your ethos and professionalism, briefly describe your proposed project, and convey enthusiasm for the project and appreciation for the readers’ consideration of your request.

Organizational Qualifications

When you are representing a nonprofit organization, sometimes you need to devote a full section to describing the nature, mission, and function of your organization. Often this comes near the section where you examine a problem.

Supporting Documents

You may need to provide a range of supporting materials at the end of your proposal—usually in the form of appendices. These might consist of additional records, endorsements, tax status information, personnel bios for your organization’s employees, letters of support from allied organizations or groups partnering with you in your project, etc. All of this documentation should be clearly related to your proposal and may be requested by the granting institution.

Responses to Government-Agency Requests for Proposal (FRPs), 

Requests for Applications (RFAs) or Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs)

We will prepare responses to city, state or federal government RFPs, RFAs or NOFAs by reviewing and downloading the forms from the respective website on behalf of our client. Each RFP or NOFA is unique. It is useful for client organizations to provide as much written background information as possible for review by our grant writers in preparing competitive responses.

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