So, you’re researching about writing a grant proposal. That’s great! It means you have some valuable research in the works or you’re building a community resource or a device you’re passionate about. That distinct vision can be improved or advanced, only if you have the resources. Now that you’re all set to ask for other’s to support and fund your high aspirations, we’re going to help you do just that by helping you create a splendid grant proposal which furthers your purpose. Let’s get straight to it!

What is a grant proposal? 

A grant is an award of money given for specific for the public good – to conduct research that provides Economic, Social or Environmental benefits. Grants are given by private foundations, corporations, and various government agencies. 

To win a grant, applicants have to write grant proposals which describe in detail how the funds will be used if awarded, and how the applicant meets the requirements of that particular funding organization.

Before you begin writing 

Grant proposal writing is a long-drawn process which requires a lot of thought and consideration about seeking Request For Proposals, researching your potential funders, creating trust with them and writing the grant itself. Here are all the things you need to do before you begin writing that grant winner: 

  1. Create a preparation schedule 

A grant proposal is a very clear, distinct document written to organizations or funding agencies with the purpose of persuading the reviewers to assist you financially. Creating a document like this requires rigorous planning and thought. As you begin putting together and drafting your grant proposal, ask yourself:

  • What organizations are funding research in your area and which one is the most suitable for you? 
  • Who is the audience?  
  • Who will read the proposal?
  • What are the agency’s missions and goals? 
  • How are your goals aligned with the agency? 
  • What are the particular expectations of this grant? 
  • What kind of information will the reviewers find most interesting? 
  • How will you establish your credibility? 
  • How can you clearly and logically present your plan?

Start taking notes as you think about these matters. It will help you in the further course of planning.

2. Research previous successful grant proposals

Once settled on a funding organization that aligns with your goals, it’s time to get into investigation mode. Study foundation to find out who got funded in the past. Take a look at the most recently funded proposals. Which ones made the cute and why? Take pointers from winners – read through those proposals if they’ve been made available on the web. Request for them, if you don’t find them online. Go through those proposals carefully from start to finish and try to match their tone, theme, and technical style. This is the key to understanding how they scored high on the reviewer’s scoring sheet. 

3. Talk to a past grantee 

Questioning is the foundation of pre-proposal chores. It’s highly advised to call a past grantee sponsored by the fund that you’re applying for. You’ve got this whole line of questioning to do with this person to get your basic facts right, to understand all the problems and needs, and the best kind of approach to take. Ask away:  

  • Did you call or visit the sponsor before writing the proposal? 
  • Who would you say was the most helpful on the funding source staff? 
  • How close was the awarded amount to your initial budget? 
  • What approach did you take? 
  • Will this approach also work for me/us?

You can also add your own questions to this list. A visit to the funders’ website and you’ll know who the past grantees are. 

4. Talk to a past reviewer 

If you’re willing to walk an extra mile, you could also get in touch with some past reviewers and indicate that you understand that they reviewed for the grant program you wish to approach. The goal here is to learn about the actual process to be followed. For example, if a reviewer has only three minutes to review your proposal, you will do things differently. But, if they have three hours to review your proposal, you’ve got a whole different field to set.  

  • How many proposals did you have to read and how much time did you give to each?
  • What were you told to look for?  
  • Did you follow some particular points or scoring system? 
  • What were the most common mistakes in the proposals you read? 
  • What is the best approach to take for the problem you are addressing?

5. Contact the program officer 

Inform your program officer that you have studied the program guidelines carefully and have some further doubts to clarify. But you must be careful, any question asked that the guidelines have already made clear, will dent your credibility. You can briefly describe your project, introduce its objectives and outcomes, and then ask questions like: 

  • How are proposals being evaluated? 
  • Would an early submission be considered? 
  • What are the biggest hurdles in the area of your current project? 
  • Would you like to see anything in particular in a proposal that is often left out or ignored? 
  • What outcomes do you expect from grantees?

Any more relevant question worth asking the program officer? Let us know in the comments!

Structure of a grant proposal 

Title page and Abstract 

Briefly summarize your research topic in the title and capture the reviewer’s interest. In the abstract, briefly detail your research question, preliminary and proposed work, and the significance of your project in a short concise paragraph. Treat this section as an elevator pitch, it should pique the reviewer’s interest in the shortest time and space possible. 

Table of contents  

Give an overview of what to expect in the pages to follow. Keep this as the last part to be completed once everything else is in place. If your proposal is short (2-3 pages) there’s no need for a table of contents.

Program narrative (Description)

This section forms the “meat” of the grant proposal and usually includes the following elements: 

  •  Background information 

Begin about how this idea came to be about solving the issue at hand. Prove that everyone involved has a thorough understanding of the consulted literature. You could also mention the related theses and papers to your credit. Provide justification for your proposed work. Highlight the unresolved issues and gaps in the current operations in the area. Most reviewers read this section very carefully with little or no experience, especially if your chosen area is in an emerging field.  

  •  Statement of need 

This is the most crucial section of your Grant Proposal. Make sure you create a compelling and detailed description of the problem you’re set to solve and why it matters. Ascertain that you’ve chosen one part of a larger issue and that will remain the focus. This is the section where you demonstrate expertise in the chosen field: who will be served, substantial claims backed with relevant stats, related research in the field, and how all these factors are connected with the organization’s objectives.  

Provide enough conviction that the grantmakers concerns are your concerns, you are well suited and capable of addressing this issue. Your research should show similarities in the previously solved problems which are connected with the current problem. This tells them the solution can be replicable. Identify the target population or markets your project will reach.  

  •  Goals 

It’s crucial for the reviewers to understand what the funds will be spent working on. Define your project goals with the highest clarity and focus.  Break down the project into component goals, give each its own space and heading, describe them in detail. Use power phrases like “seek out, advocate for, and acquire additional resources” to validate their authenticity. 

  • Activities 

Explain what you’re going to do with the resources the fund will provide. And how those efforts will lead to the ultimate goal. Organize it in a way that it naturally aligns with your needs statement.

  •  Timeline of activities 

Merely mentioning the activities is not enough. If you want to be taken seriously, show them you’ve done serious work. Prepare a schedule for how things will flow, each stage of the project should feel timed to execute. Outline the major activities and put them in a table.

  •  Budget

Chalk out the budget requirements for the project. Delve into the details as much as possible. Explain about what and how much you’re asking for and why those particular amounts. Budgets are best laid out in tables and figures.


That’s all there is you should be aware of before you start writing your grant proposal. Be sure to go after grants of all sizes. Sometimes, securing a smaller grant can make your appeal to larger grants more attractive. Showing that you’ve already got the attention of other stakeholders can bolster your credibility. 

If you need any assistance in editing or finishing your draft, you can always trust PaperTrue.

In the coming week, we’ll also share essential tips to make your grant look more appealing. So watch this space for more.

PaperTrue wishes you all the best!