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Writing A Grant Proposal

Put your investment needs in writing.

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Q: How do I write a business grant proposal for my nonprofit?

A: When planning for fundraising from nonprofits, you need to view raising funds as a critical investment in the future. Your goal should be to build a network of foundation and corporate investors. It's important that you have a good sense of how the project you're requesting a grant for fits in to the philosophy and mission of your organization. The need that the proposal is addressing must also be put in writing. Investors want to know that a project reinforces the overall direction of an organization. Your proposal should include the following:

Executive summary (one page): This first page of the proposal is the most important section of the entire document. Here you'll provide the reader with a snapshot of what's to follow. It summarizes all the key information and acts as a sales document to convince the reader that this project should be considered for support.

Statement of need (two pages): This will enable readers to learn more about the issues. It presents the evidence that there's a need for the project and shows that your organization can address the problems. The information used to support the case can come from authorities in the field as well as from your organization.

Information on organization (one page): This section is dedicated to explaining your organization's history and governing structure along with its primary activities, audiences and services. The investor needs to gain a thorough familiarity with your organization and its significant contributions to the community.

Detailed project description (three pages): This section should delve into the key details behind the project. The following is a checklist of the project information that needs to be discussed:

  • Nature of the project and its logistics
  • Timeline for the project
  • Anticipated outcomes and how best to evaluate the results
  • Staffing needs, including deployment of existing staff and new hires

Budget (one page): You won't be able to pin down all the expenses associated with the project until the project details and timing have been worked out. Thus, the main financial data gathering takes place after the narrative part of the master proposal has been written. At this stage, however, you do need to sketch out a general outline of the budget to show the costs are reasonable in relation to the outcomes you anticipate.

Conclusion (two paragraphs): This is a summary of the proposal's key points. This is where you "close the sale." It's imperative that this section include compelling closing statements along with a strong call to action to encourage investment in your idea.

Steven K. Baker, M.B.A., is a financial management expert, helping entrepreneurs and early-stage companies manage their operations against the primary financial statements, provide key guidance in operational management areas, develop strategic business plans and analyze and monitor performance against those plans.

Contact Steven at sbaker@entrepreneur.com for more information.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.