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How to write a grant proposal?


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Writing a grant proposal on typewriter

People with ingenious ideas rule the world. However, their ideas were not the only thing that made them successful. It requires hours of research, trials, and fails to make the project work in the way it was initially meant to. It also takes a lot of time, money, and effort to see the dream come to life.

If the project has no funds, it is doomed to stay unaccomplished, unless it gains financial support from the grantors. However, there are thousands of people out there who have the same problem as you do. And the best way to stand out from this crowd is writing a good grant proposal.

What is a grant proposal?

Let’s start by reviewing the grant proposal definition. It is a document where one party requests for the funds or services of another party for a certain project or mission. The grants are usually given out by the government or public corporations after the proposals with detailed explanations and requirements are submitted.

Grant proposal outline

This type of project resembles a business plan in some ways as it gives an overall description of the idea and its future implementation. Here is an example of a frequently used structure for grant proposal writing:

  • Title page - includes general information about the writer, subject, dates, etc.
  • Abstract/Summary - shortly overviews the paper and informs the readers about the importance of the project.
  • Introduction - presents the mission of the agency and the role it will play in a society.
  • Needs statement - shows the needs that will be addressed by the project.
  • Objectives - reveals the goals and perspectives of the project.
  • Strategies - describes the implementation process as well as the difficulties and the ways to overcome them.
  • Team - overviews the personnel and their credentials.
  • Budget - presents the project in numbers and includes a detailed explanation of each item of expenditure.

It is important to show the grantors that you have done your research before undertaking a project, and you know that you will actually help someone with it. After all, you have to prove that you are a trustworthy person who believes in the successful future of a mission, and has a highly qualified team for its implementation.

The budget section must show realistic funding needs, which have to be reasonable enough to make the reviewers believe you are not a fraud. This implies that you do not need to either exaggerate the costs to get more funds “just in case” or try to cut costs on the essentials thinking that such numbers are more likely to get you the money (spoiler alert: they aren’t). 

Grant proposal format

What format does a typical grant proposal take? Actually, there is no specific formatting style for such a paper, such as APA, MLA, etc. The main thing here is to stick to the structure described in the previous section. Also, it is recommended to type the paper in Times New Roman font size 12 and double-space it. If such formatting is not to your liking, be sure to choose a font that is easy to read and stick to it throughout the paper

How to write a decent proposal if you are not a professional grant proposal writer?

There are four common types of projects, which require sponsorship. It is important to understand what kind of people tend to get the money in each situation to tailor your paper to the needed characteristics.


When it comes to grants for a non-profit organization, the applicants have to prove that their work will help many people, and the result will cost the effort. Moreover, the grantors want to know that when you spend all of the given funds, your organization will keep working using the money from the other sources.

Small businesses

Applying for the grant for a small business, you need to make your paper resemble a business plan:

  • First, you must show that you have researched the market and know for sure that your organization will not fail to compete with others.
  • Also, you need to prove that you will not require constant funding, and the business will start bringing money in the nearest future.


If you are a member of a school in the poor district, you might want to get the funds for education improvement. Here, it is important to explain why your facility needs financial support more than others do. You have to:

  • Present a step-by-step plan of the way money will be used.
  • Explain how it will help students in their life and studies.

Scientific projects

Alternatively, if your goal is a scientific laboratory, a grant proposal should include credible scientific data related to the subject and explain a primary goal of research. Some of the grantors can actually support a certain team for a long time if they benefit from it. Usually, those are the teams of researchers, who can make a scientific breakthrough or find a cure for a deadly disease. Therefore, it is crucial to:

  • Point out the importance of the project to certain groups of people.
  • Prove the qualifications of the team members and their experience in the sphere.

Tips for writing a grant proposal

Need help in writing a grant proposal? Here are some of the main things you need to keep in mind:

  • While there are no formatting requirements you need to stick to, it is crucial to be consistent. Therefore, make sure that the font, size, spacing, and the way you label visuals remains the same in the whole document.
  • If it is possible to visualize certain information using graphs or charts, do it. It will look professional as long as the data is more understandable in such a format.
  • Stick to the page limit set by the funding company. If you cannot follow a guideline as simple as this one, people will be less likely to trust you and your project.
  • Make a checklist with the application criteria and stick to it while writing. This way, you will not forget to hit the most important points.
  • Think about the tricky questions you might be asked, and prepare the answers. If applicable, include these answers in the paper. If not, you may either address the potential questions in your cover letter or during the meeting regarding your project.

Last but not least, do not forget to proofread the proposal carefully before you send it out. It would be terrible to work on your project for so long only to get rejected because of typos or mistakes that could have been easily corrected. Moreover, your effort to ensure that the submitted paper is perfect will go a long way in showing how serious you are about what you are proposing.

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