How to Write a Grant Proposal in 11 Steps

Writing a successful grant proposal is critical for companies and individuals looking to find their projects and initiatives. A well-crafted proposal will make the difference between a missed opportunity and landing the resources necessary for impactful and life-changing work. 

In this guide, we’ll share a few tips and walk you through the steps to create a compelling grant proposal that will stand out from the competition and put your project on the path to success.

Step 1: Research Potential Funding Sources

Before you put your first word on the page for your grant proposal, you’ll need to spend time researching potential funding sources that align with the goals and objectives of the project you’d like to secure funding for. Look for grant-making organizations, foundations and government agencies that have a history of supporting projects like yours.

Instrumentl is an excellent tool for researching potential funding sources, as is Candid – but there are plenty more to choose from.

No matter who you plan to reach out to, be sure to review their guidelines, eligibility criteria and deadlines to ensure your grant proposal meets their requirements.

In the process of deciding on where to submit your proposal, don’t limit yourself to the biggest and most well-known organizations. Instead, explore local, regional, and other niche sources that have a specific focus on your work that aligns with your project. Those smaller funders often have fewer applicants and might be open to innovative ideas.

Once you’ve completed your research, create list of potential funding sources and prioritize them based on alignment and the likelihood of security grant funding.


Step 2: Understand Priorities

Once you’ve identified potential funding sources to target, dig in to understand their priorities and interests. Read their mission statements, funding guidelines and research their past grant recipients for insight on what they value,and tailor your grant proposal to illustrate how your project will align with their mission.

Don’t be afraid to contact the funding organizations directly! Generally, they appreciate the chance to discuss potential projects and provide you with guidance on building a successful grant proposal. Engaging them directly to establish a relationship will help you get a deeper understanding of their expectations and ensure your project plan is aligned with their goals.

Step 3: Develop a Clear Project Plan

An effective grant proposal begins with a well-defined project plan.

The executive summary allows you to clearly articulate your objectives, timeline, target population, and expected outcomes. Follow the SMART goals format – specific, measurable,achievable, relevant, and time-bound – to demonstrate the impact and feasibility of your proposed project.

Visuals are always helpful in your project plan, so be sure timelines, flowcharts, graphs, etc. to help readers quickly grasp the key points and milestones of your project. Not only will this illustrate the time and effort you’ve put in preparing the proposal, but it should also give them confidence in your abilities to communicate complex information in a clear and concise format.

Also important in your project plan is a clear statement of need, which explains in clear terms the problem you’re solving and who will benefit.

Step 4: Craft a Compelling Narrative

The narrative section of your grant proposal is where you tell your story and make a persuasive case for funding. Begin with a strong opening that captures the reader’s attention with a compelling problem statement, and the need your project addresses. Use data, statistics, and real-life examples to illustrate the significance of the issue and the potential impact of your solution.

As you develop your narrative within the grant request, focus on creating a clear and compelling story that engages the reader and demonstrates the urgency and importance of your project. Use vivid language and concrete examples to paint a picture of the challenges you aim to address and the positive change your project will bring about. Remember to keep your audience in mind and tailor your language and tone to resonate with the funder’s priorities and values.

Step 5: Highlight You Expertise

Funders want to see that their investment will be in capable hands. Showcase your organization’s expertise, experience, and track record of success in the relevant field. Highlight the qualifications and achievements of your team members and any partnerships or collaborations that strengthen your ability to deliver results.

In addition to showcasing your organization’s strengths, emphasize how your project complements and enhances your existing work. Demonstrate how the proposed project builds upon your proven track record and aligns with your organization’s mission and values. This will help funders understand how their support will contribute to your organization’s long-term goals and the sustainability of your impact.

Step 6: Develop a Budget

A well-prepared budget is essential to demonstrate the financial feasibility of your project. Break down your expenses into categories such as personnel, equipment, supplies, travel, and overhead costs. Be realistic and transparent in your estimates, and provide justification for each line item. If applicable, be sure to include any matching funds or in-kind contributions that demonstrate your organization’s commitment to the project.

Moreover, consider including a budget narrative that explains any assumptions or calculations used in developing your budget.

Step 7: Outline the Evaluation Plan

Funders want to know how you will measure the success and impact of your project. Develop a clear evaluation plan that outlines the metrics you plan to use to track progress, the data collection methods and strategies you will employ, and how you will analyze and report the results. Demonstrate how your evaluation plan aligns with your project’s goals and objectives.

Consider incorporating both quantitative and qualitative measures in your evaluation plan to provide a comprehensive assessment of your project’s impact. Quantitative data, such as the beneficiaries or the percentage increase in desired outcomes, can offer concrete evidence of your project’s success. Qualitative data, including testimonials, case studies, or participant feedback, can provide valuable insights into the human impact of your work and help funders connect emotionally with your cause.

Step 8: Emphasize Sustainability

Funders are often interested in supporting projects that have a lasting impact beyond the initial grant period. Address how your project will be sustainable in the long run and the potential for scaling up or replicating your success in other communities. Discuss your plans for securing additional funding, partnerships, or community support to ensure the project’s longevity and continued impact.

In addition to outlining your sustainability plans, consider highlighting the potential for your project to serve as a model for other organizations or communities facing similar challenges. Demonstrating the broader impact and replicability of your approach can make your grant proposal writing more compelling to funders seeking to support initiatives with far-reaching effects. By emphasizing the long-term value and scalability of your project, you can position your organization as a strategic partner in addressing critical issues and driving positive change.

Step 9: Proofread and Edit

Before submitting your grant proposal, take the time to thoroughly proofread and edit your work. Check for spelling and grammar errors, ensure consistency in formatting and style, and verify that all required sections and attachments are included. Consider having a colleague or mentor review your proposal and provide feedback for improvement.

Additionally, pay attention to the overall flow and coherence of your proposal. Ensure that each section logically builds upon the previous one, creating a compelling narrative that engages the reader from start to finish. A well-structured and formal grant proposal not only demonstrates your professionalism but will also increase the likelihood of your project being funded.

Step 10: Follow Guidelines

Pay close attention to the funder’s submission guidelines and follow them meticulously. Double-check the application deadline, format requirements, and any specific instructions for submitting your proposal. If submitting electronically, ensure that your files are compatible and within the specified size limits.

In addition to adhering to the submission guidelines, it’s essential to present your grant proposal in a professional and visually appealing manner. Use clear headings, bullet points, and white space to make your proposal easy to read and navigate. Consider incorporating relevant charts, graphs, or images to support your narrative and provide visual interest. A well-organized and aesthetically pleasing grant proposal can make a positive impression on reviewers and demonstrate your attention to detail.

Step 11: Follow Up 

When you’ve submitted the grant proposal, follow up to confirm they’ve received it and keep in touch throughout the review period. 

If you’re fortunate enough to have your proposal accepted, maintain open communication with them throughout implementation, providing updates and acknowledging their support. It certainly doesn’t hurt to invite them to key events or milestones to show your appreciation and build long-term partnerships.

Tips for the Grant Proposal Writing Process 

    • Start early: Deadlines come quickly! Give yourself time to research, plan, and write your grant proposal to ensure the best submission.
    • Be concise: Get to the point! Reviewers have a stack of proposals to review, so avoid unnecessary details in your grant writing.
    • Proofread: Successful grant proposals may require several rounds of edits! Be meticulous in reviewing your content for spelling, grammar, and formatting perfection, as mistakes detract from credibility.
    • Seek feedback: Get more eyes on your grant proposals! Any feedback that colleagues and mentors can provide will strengthen your grant application.
    • Demonstrate passion: Not only is it OK to bring some emotion, it’s encouraged. Show the reviewer you care about the project and why they should, too.
    • Be realistic: Don’t oversell goals and potential outcomes, and be honest regarding potential challenges.
    • Highlight partnerships: Emphasize community support and collaborators to illustrate the impact and support for your project.
    • Personalize your proposal: Generic content is obvious. Tailor your language and proposal in a way that demonstrates you’ve done your research.
    • Have it covered: When it comes to grant funding, government agencies and corporations often require a cover letter. This isn’t merely a formality; it’s a chance to make your first impression.


Writing a winning grant proposal is hard work! It will take thorough research, meticulous planning, and quite a bit of good storytelling. By investing your time and effort into creating a well-written proposal, you’ll significantly increase your odds of winning the funding you’ll need to make your project a reality.

Use the opportunity to showcase the strengths and potential of your organization, and don’t miss the opportunity to let your passion shine through in your grant proposals!

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