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Preparing the Proposal
Many of these items may not actually be sent
to the Foundation as part of the final proposal. However, it is
that you have all of the information that these stages generate readily
available in the event that the foundation requests additional
There may not be enough time to gather the information at that point.
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Writing a Proposal Work Sheet
Define the project (establish a working title).
Identify the agency and obtain Guidelines and deadlines.
Write preliminary material (pre proposal).
Conduct literature search.
Write a draft of the full proposal. Consider the following parts:
Note all of these parts will not be required by every proposal. But
most of them are. Individual agencies will have different forms or
Future funding (if required by project)
Abstract or Project Summary
GRANT PROPOSAL ELEMENTS
This is done last, after the proposal summary. It's signed by the
of the Board, Executive Director, or whoever is liable for authorizing
the project. The letter should:
Title Page - If
by the grantor
Authorize submission of the proposal
Ask for money
Reinforce/Set up - Reinforce how important the project is and what it
accomplish. Set-up: prepare readers for what they are about to read;
why you are approaching this particular grantor for this particular
Next steps - Set up process for contacting the grantor in the next few
weeks, answering questions they may have.
This is done next to last after you have all your information
and organized. It is included near the beginning of the proposal when it
is submitted. Summarize the one, two or three most important things that
you say for each of the following elements of the proposal:
This section can range in length from a paragraph to a page. It's
to address each of the elements in one sentence each. The summary can
be used as a one to two page mini proposal or cover letter
that a grantor would request and review before deciding whether to ask
you to prepare a full proposal.
Your organization's credibility
The problem being addressed
Project goals and objectives
Methods of implementation
The total cost of the project, including the amount you're requesting,
potential, funding from other sources, your own contributions,
This is the beginning of the proposal narrative - introducing your
agency. It is a very important part of the proposal for the grantor
it's about your credibility. The grantor wants to know that you can pull
off this project if it gives you the money. You should address, in no
order, as much of the following as possible or feasible about your
Population/Clients - Your target audience, if it's changed over time,
you're meeting the changing needs
Programs - Results - it's not about what you do, but about your
this could be a brief track record or success story
History - This is really credible if it shows growth; what you mention
should be directly relevant to what you're proposing in this project
Funding - Who is funding you? What percentage of your budget does each
Support - Very important; refer to letters of support in appendix
Collaboration - Your primary partners; it's hard to be unique anymore;
it carries more weight when you show that you're tied in with partners
who do pieces of what you do or complement your efforts
Management - Who's running your organization? Does your board and/or
reflect the diversity in the communities you serve? Experience?
Media/Awards - Recognition for outstanding service
Evaluation of programs - Either done inside or outside your organization
This is the most important part of the proposal because everything
revolves around it. It describes the circumstances or conditions that
want to change. Your concern should be external to your organization,
focused on your internal needs. You must have a baseline, which
the scope of the problem and your starting point in addressing it.
everything that you can. Be specific and precise. Elements include:
Only address what the grantor thinks can be changed.
What is going on in your service area? Pick a manageable part of the
or a piece that you may be able to solve.
Who's affected? Use local statistics; only use national statistics if
comparing them to local ones. Bring in quotes from experts and people
or indirectly affected.
Who has the problem? Who else is affected? Focus on a target population.
Why is this a problem? Focus on a cause for the problem based on what
do and your expertise, that you can actually do something about.
Goals and Objectives
Goals and objectives are results or outcomes, not what you want to
do. They describe a change that will occur in the circumstances and
that you laid out in the problem statement. A goal is general and
more specific objectives or an overall desired outcome for a project. It
is bigger in impact than an objective and has no specific time frame.
Objectives, not goals, are what you really measure to determine the
direction and success of a project. Objectives must be measurable and
Each objective needs to contain four pieces of information:
Who or what is going to change?
How will they change?
By how much will they change?
Don't confuse objectives with methods. Methods describe ways of
objectives. Use verbs like "increase, decrease, maintain, reduce,
… not "to train, to provide, etc. This section should be brief.
This describes your program design or program activities. It must
the rationale for the program (relate it to the problem) and explain how
the program will work. Elements include:
What - Proposed activities to bring about the desired results
Who - The target group; also, who will be responsible for implementing
When - Timeline; charts are a good tool to use as a "snapshot" in
when activities will take place and objectives will be achieved
Why - What other alternatives did you look at? Why did you pick this
Was it the cheapest? The most innovative? Did it have the most impact?
And so forth.
This determines whether your program worked. Did you meet your
This is a Summative, or Product, Evaluation. A Process, or Method,
examines whether the methods were carried out but does not say anything
about the effectiveness of the program. Most grantors want you to do
kinds of evaluation. Elements:
The evaluation will indicate whether you should continue the program,
it, expand it, scale it back, drop it, or whatever. You can also
what factors led to meeting or not meeting the objectives. It's helpful
for the future to share this information with grantors, to show them
works and what doesn't work. Indicating to grantors what you will do to
obtain better results is very powerful. A very effective way to keep in
touch with actual and potential grantors is to share your project
with them. Evaluations are also good to share with your board (to kill
their bad ideas), staff (for morale) and clients (to help recruit others
into your program). The point about doing evaluations is not about
or failing, but about learning from them.
Information and Indicators - What will tell you that you're
your objectives; you need to track this information and continually
it all through the project.
How and When - How will you collect information and when?
Who collects and analyzes information? Recently grantors have shown more
preference for organizations that do their own evaluations rather than
bringing in outsiders. They like to see someone who is involved in
planning and implementation doing the evaluation and someone who could
change the objectives, if necessary, as the program goes on and certain
Will you publish the evaluation? Share it with other agencies?
Future Funding (if
by the project)
This is the last part of the narrative. After the grant is spent,
do you keep the project going? Grantors want you to address this and
no obligation to fund you after the first time.
This is a plan - how much you'll pay to accomplish your objectives.
Anything in your methods section needs to be in your budget, and vice
You don't want to raise any questions with grantors. Match methods
items with budget items in your mind. You'll ask for money in three
places in the proposal: the cover letter, the abstract or summary, and
This is the last piece of the proposal. If you want the grantor to
see something in the appendix, refer to it either in a table of contents
or in the proposal narrative. The appendix should at least include the
following four items:
An IRS non-profit status (tax exempt) determination letter - 501 (c)(3)
An organizational budget
Audited financial statements - 99OPF Forms filed annually with the IRS
A list of your Board of Directors - include their day jobs; or possibly
an organizational chart or hierarchy
In addition, you could also include:
Resumes of key staff involved in the project
Commitment letters from partners
Letters of support from others
An agency annual report or brochure
Anything else that you think makes a strong case as a back-up document
in your proposal; don't include items if you don't think they're
An Example of a Cover Letter
Jane A. Doe
THE SOMETHING FOUNDATION
Dear Dr. Somebody
The School District of ___________ would like to
funding support for an important school district/community project
the _________ and ______________ (See attached flier). As per your
with Someone, we are requesting a grant to be matched by the District
its community in the amount of $2,500.
Moneys raised will support the initiation of a
district based ________ interactive ________ designed to preserve the
and history of the community as well as provide students with a sense of
belonging and pride in their community. This Center will be housed at
____________ Building located within the district. The cultural center
represents a collaborative effort between the district and its community
and provides a vehicle for educational activities that highlight the
historical perspective of the __________ area.
A joint district/community task force spent last
developing plans, informing the community and soliciting support for
concept. The attached flier was distributed during the Memorial Day
and contains a logo specially designed by a ____________ student. This
project is one of many initiatives underway designed to build a long
social contract between the district and its community.
An additional partner in this endeavor is
University, a team of preserve educators, coordinated by Dr.
is working at no cost to the District or its taxpayers to prepare
train youngsters K-12 in various skills (such as conducting oral
as well as raising funds, identifying additional sources of appropriate
materials, and preparing the physical space.
As is evident from the content of this proposal, the
aim of the District is to build a "community plan’” that highlights the
accomplishments of its residents and encourages young people to look
the past with an eye on their future. If we accomplish this goal there
is no doubt that __________ will remain an active player in the health
and vitality of the entire ______________ region.
Superintendent of Schools
cc: Dr. ___________
Title Page - Points to cover:
Your project title
Your organization name, address and phone number
The author's name, position and phone number
Date of application
(Write this 1/2 to 1 page summary of your grant Application after you
your proposal.) Summarize your request; include a one figure cost
Summarize the need as you see it (two sentences).
Summarize your objectives (two or three sentences).
Summarize your proposed methods (two or three sentences).
Summarize your evaluation design (how you plan to prove you've
Briefly describe how your project relates to the granting agency's
Summarize the benefits of your project to the funding agency
of an announced funding program, satisfaction of helping solve a
local problem, etc.). Stress outcomes and outputs.
More About The Introduction
Describe who you are and what you do: how, why, and, when did you get
Outline your organization's goals (1 or 2 sentences). What have been
significant accomplishments to date?
Describe the relationship between this project and your organization's
Describe the academic and professional background of your staff: present
the background and accomplishment of your project head.
Present your credentials: cite short commendations, quotes of well known
persons who have worked with you.
List your present sources of support and income: demonstration that you
have local support (money, facilities, donated services).
Present other credibility builders: Are you resource to others in the
Is there an increasing need for your service? Is your service becoming,
more popular – is there a waiting list?
Describe your credentials as they relate to this project: What is your
track record in this area? What facilities and staff do you have
suited to this project?
1. Introduce your institution with reference to:
2. Always assume that the review team is not familiar with your
- offer statements and/or endorsements to support credibility.
Physical geographical and demographic setting
3. Identify key features of your organization.
4. Relate your institution's strengths to the proposed problem.
5. Provide continuity between the institutional goals and the
of the proposed program.
6. Develop an apparent relationship between organizational purpose
and the problem identified.
7. The identification of the problem should evolve from the
of your organization's purpose.
1. Describe the need for this kind of project nationally or
2. Outline the portion of this larger problem you plan to deal with.
3. Supply statistical documentation of this specific or local
(fewer statistics convincingly presented are better than many explained
4. State the need in terms of a single person ("Today the average
of a handicapped veteran is $4,500").
5. Statements of community leaders.
6. Expert opinions (including quotes).
7. Government studies.
8. Survey results.
9. Show this granting agency why it is the best source of support
this project (relate problem/need to their interests).
More About The Problem Statement
1. Document the significance of the problem with Data.
2. Do not editorialize - state facts. Too often proposals are
on emotional and political rather than on rational terms.
3. The problem identified must be achievable and creates a need for
some type of planned action.
4. Does the problem statement convince the reviewers of the
of the proposal?
5. The problem statement establishes the theme for the proposal and
it must state with clarity of purpose.
6. The problem statement determines the major focus of the proposed
project and stresses why this particular program should be undertaken.
7. The problem statement must provide entree to the other
of the proposal.
More About The Objectives
State your goals (general statements of what you hope to accomplish).
Outline your objectives )what specifically do you want to accomplish? By
How they are measurable. (Can they be evaluated?)
Show that these objectives are realistic (you have time, resources, and
community support to attain them).
1. Objectives should be stated with action oriented verbs such as
test, develop, etc.
2. An objective must succeed in communicating its intent.
3. In writing objectives, use concreteness, clarity and preciseness,
4. Objectives are considered precise outcomes that can be measured
in some manner to determine actual accomplishments.
5. The objectives are the basis for determining the procedural
of the program, and therefore must be carefully planned.
6. Most frequent error made in writing objectives is to make them
7. Objectives must be briefly and succinctly stated: A sentence or
two at most.
8. The quality of written objectives will largely determine the
of the evaluation design.
9. Objectives must be easily noted and not be imbedded in the
of the proposal.
10. Prioritized objectives indicate good planning by the principal
11. Major objectives followed by a series of sub objectives more
identify the program plans.
1. Describe the methods you plan to use to accomplish each of
2. Describe how you will implement these methods. Mention who will
be responsible for implement each objective (give name, title, and
1. Describe the plan of action.
2. Introductory paragraph to the procedures section should provide
a complete indication of your program objectives.
3. Describe the activities and/or processes for carrying out your
objectives, and the reasons for selecting the particular approach.
4. Present a reasonable scope of activities that can be accomplished
within the time allotted for the program activities and within the
of the applicant.
5. Describe the staffing expertise to be involved to provide greater
assurance of achievement.
6. Usually the most carefully read section of the whole proposal.
7. Develop a sequential procedure required for program
8. Sequentializing your procedures provides a structure for
and evaluating the effectiveness of each objective.
9. Program procedures must be in terms of their application to the
effectiveness of each objective.
NOTE: The procedure section answers the questions of what,
1. Describe your specific measurable criteria for success.
2. Describe how you plan to collect data and monitor progress.
3. Tell how you will keep records.
4. Describe the evaluators:
Name and title
5. Outline your reporting procedures (how often you will report
format and comment of evaluation reports) Give specific due dates.
objectivity (Are they an impartial third party?)
1. Describe your proposed method of disseminating project
(papers, reports, conferences. etc.).
2. Describe groups who should get information on your project
general public, potential clients).
3. Explain why it is important to reach them (locate clients, raise
money, help others start similar projects).
4. Identify person in charge of dissemination.
More About The Evaluation
1. A sound evaluation design will measure the extent to which
was effective in achieving its objectives.
Covers product and process.
2. Evaluation design must be carefully aligned with the program
and should include the following:
Defines evaluation criteria.
Describes data gathering methods.
Describes the process of data analysis.
3. The following questions need to be included in designing the
Did the program accomplish its objectives?
Did the program operate as it was designed to operate?
What variables need to be considered in monitoring the program
4. Identifies who will be performing the evaluation and their expertise
in the area being evaluated.
5. Evaluation design must provide for a continuous monitoring
6. An appropriate analysis and reporting system must be incorporated
in the evaluation design.
7. Develop a sequential procedure required for program
NOTE: Evaluation is any systematic process that is designed to
reduce uncertainty about the effectiveness of a particular program or
component. Evaluation should also include considerations for various
to be concluded from the analysis for continuing, expanding, or
This is a plan for the future. Indicate other resources and sources
of income that you will use for the project for the future. These
"soft money" (grants) and "hard money" (everything else).
Grants ("Soft money") - Include amounts that you will apply for and from
whom. Make sure you have approached these other grantors. Private
receiving this proposal may share it with other grantors and even
on funding your proposal. You can't depend on receiving grants, though,
so you should rely more on other methods.
Planned giving, major donors, special events, direct mail solicitation,
funds from individuals - Indicate what percentage of planned giving or
special events that you plan to earmark for the project.
Contracts - For example, with government agencies
Fees for service - For example, admissions, this is becoming more
Matching funds - Many companies provide matching gifts for amounts that
their employees give
In-kind or donated services - To offset certain costs; these are
by your organization; volunteers are examples
Sales - Selling things associated with your organization; gift shops; or
sales of services, such as consulting
Business ventures - Non-profit agencies creating a for-profit entity and
filtering profits made back into their non-profit base.
The budget will have two parts: the detail - line items with the
numbers; and the summary or justification - an explanation or
showing how you came up with those numbers. The budget detail should
at least three columns: funds requested, funds from other sources
your own), and total project funds. Line items are divided into
items, non personnel items, and indirect costs. The usual personnel line
Wages/Salaries - List everyone involved in the project by position.
the percentage of time each person listed will be spending on the
and multiply it by his or her salary. You can obtain a salary schedule
for a particular position in this part of the country for someone with
a certain number of years of experience. Also take into account
Fringe benefits - Usually a certain percentage of salaries.
Consultants/Contracted services - To determine whether a person is a
employee or a consultant, obtain an IRS publication entitled "Business
Reporting - Pub. #937". You can pro-rate some costs, such as maintenance
or cleaning contracts, as direct expenses and write off a percentage of
them as a part of doing this project.
Volunteers - Using them shows that your agency is credible. This is very
powerful to grantors. Include volunteers under consultants/contracted
to avoid figuring benefits for them, but indicate what their monetary
would be using an hourly rate.
The usual non personnel line items are the following. You should
items down in each category either in the budget detail or in the
Space costs - For rented or donated facilities that you use. One way to
determine square footage for rent is to use a government figure for
square footage per person, multiplied by the number of people in your
Another way to compute all non personnel items is to look at the value
of this program relative to your overall agency budget and charge that
percentage to each non personnel item. Space costs could also include
maintenance services, other monthly costs (telephones), insurance, etc.
Rental, lease, or purchase of equipment - This is major equipment, often
defined as costing more than $500 per unit and/or lasting greater than
one year. It includes office equipment, desks, copy machines, word
Supplies - Generally desk-top supplies
Travel - Transportation costs, meals, lodging,
Other costs - For items that don't fit into other non personnel line
The third category of budget items is:
Indirect costs. These are costs not associated with a particular project
or activity but necessary for the general operation of the agency. They
are generally costs that can't be quantified, including certain
and accounting costs, operation and maintenance of buildings and
depreciation, general telephone expenses, general travel and supplies
... The federal government has determined a percentage of project costs
to use as an Indirect Cost Rate for different types of institutions and
1. Appendix A. including: Endorsement letters, certifications, and
2. Appendix B: List of board members and officers with titles.
3. Appendix C: Vitae of key personnel.
4. Appendix D: Tables, graphs, statistics supporting need, success, and
Include at least a one paragraph description of each person who will
a key role in the project.
Consider developing a special format that highlights experiences and
training related to the project.
If specific individuals are not known, describe qualifications and the
selection process to be followed.
Do not list and/or identify, personnel without prior approvals or the
Provide a complete list of all key personnel to be involved in the
with activities cited that directly relate to the project objectives.
of staff is an important criteria that is considered in the project
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The Foundation Directory Part 2 $185
|Grant Writing Tips - Evelyn
Foundation Grants Index
Provides most up to date information about the
grants made by a foundation (compiled every two months). Lists all
over $5,000 to nonprofit organizations that are reported to the
Center. Lists foundations alphabetically, by organizations receiving
by subject category and by broad subject areas by recipients' state
Provides date of grant authorization description of the grant and a
|For a free copy of The
Center's Whole Nonprofit Catalog, that includes a reprint price
list and order form, as well as a current schedule of Grantsmanship
training programs, write to:
The Grantsmanship Center
Dept. DD, P.O. Box 6210
Los Angeles, CA 90014
|The Grantsmanship Training
Check out this site for various types of grants
including access to that day's Federal Register with summaries of grants
notices and other potential opportunities for grants. It also has links
|US Department of Education:
This has announcements of recent and past grant
press releases, lots of information and guides to departmental programs,
and access to other useful web sites for grants. It also has access to
the Federal Register, that has daily announcements of all kinds,
grants notices. National statistics on education can also be found here.
|PA Department of Education:
Click on various things on this page for information
about the latest initiatives, statistics, grants information, and links
to other web sites for information on grants and educational resources.
If you click on "Teacher Pages", then "gopher access", you'll hook up
PennLINK, which provides daily announcements, press releases,
grants information, and so forth. This page also has links to the
units and the AIU home page.
|The Foundation Center at the
You'll find the Foundation Center's newsletter and
to other good information. The Foundation Center itself is a great
Call ahead of time at 622-1917 and make an appointment with a staff
to go in and check out their directories, computer resources, files, and
other information. Their staff is very helpful and can help you do a
|The National Foundation
This has valuable information on many foundations
links to their web pages.
|Qualitative researchers Web page - links to
announcements and proceedings, discussion forums, grant information, and
qualitative data analysis software and archives:
|Directories and More
|Grant Grants - COMMUNITY RESOURCE INSTITUTE
|Directory of Texas Foundations
|Federal Money Retriever: Pricing and Ordering
|Information on mini grants and free teacher
|News about philanthropy, nonprofits,
volunteers, charity and jobs.
|Pitsco's Launch to Grants and Funding (for
|Internet Nonprofit Center
|National Science Teachers Association
|The Distance Learning Funding Source book http://www.technogrants.com
||Association for Supervision and Curriculum
|Philanthropy Journal Online
|National Education Association
|Computers 4 Kids
|Texas Literacy Resource Center
|Links to Grants and Funding Information
|Welcome to the Captain Planet Foundation
|Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
|Corporate Philanthropy - Education
|The Foundation Center's Online Library --
|Fundsnet Online Services Main Page
|A Proposal Writing Short Course (low
|Information about Grants
|Grants, Funding, Loans: FEDERAL MONEY
Online orientation -- proposal writing
|Table of Contents
Books to Buy