Hello, everyone. This is Russ Dennis. I’m here to talk to you about the parts of grant proposals, and the information that generally goes into every proposal, regardless of the source. In the absence of clear instructions on what to include, these are the sections that will pretty much cover all the information a grant funder will want, although they have it organized in ways that suit them. They may even have common forms for themselves, internal forms, online forms. But if you organize the information in this way, you’ll be sure to get them everything they need, regardless of how they want the information presented.
First is the executive summary. That’s the complete overview of who you are, who you serve, what problem you’re trying to solve, what the need is to solve that problem, documented evidence that the need exists, how you’re going to go about doing it, how much you need, and just who’s going to do it, and why you’re the ones that should do it. This is the 30,000 foot view. The executive summary should be written last, because you’re going to be pulling information from the other parts of the grant to create that summary that explains everything in an overview that you’re trying to do.
The second section will be background information on your organization. It’ll include your history, what things you focus on, your mission, vision, values, everything about you, your team, why you’re the one who should be entrusted to solve this problem, and what differentiates you from the rest of the pack.
After the background information, you go into detail with a needs assessment or problem statement. Here, you explain what problem you’re trying to solve in detail, and give a profile or an outline to the people who receive those services, where they’re located, why they need them, and what would be different in their lives as a result of having access to the program you’re seeking funding to. How will their lives be different? This is a very important piece as well.
After the needs statement, you will want to have a program or project statement. This is where you explain, in detail, how you’re going to implement the program and deploy your people and the resources entrusted to you to get the results you want to see the people who are getting the services have. Where will you ultimately take them to? This is very important, and it outlines how the money and the resources will be deployed to get this done.
Another important piece is the budget. This is where you explain, in great detail, how you’re going to deploy the assets, how that grant program fits into the overall funding of your agency, and how you will deliver these services. The budget talks about what resources you’ll marshal into what place, and what other revenues you can expect to use to solve that problem. This is really key.
The next section will be what we call evaluation. Here, you want to talk about how you go about determining whether your efforts are successful. Are you accomplishing the goals that you set out to accomplish when you decided you wanted to undertake this program? What corrective steps will you take? How will you go about reporting to the grant funding agency the result that you’re getting, how you’re going to collect your data, what the data’s going to tell you, and what corrective measures you’re going to make if changes need to be made? It’s very important to be very transparent about any potential problems that you foresee when you’re putting this proposal together in the interest of transparency.
This doesn’t make you look weaker, but it makes the grant source understand that you’ve taken a look at what things could possibly go wrong. There’s always something that may not work as you planned. We’re all optimistic, but we want to be sure that we’ve got back up planned in the event that things don’t go quite as we planned. So, that’s that.
Then we have a summary document. That gets back to the executive summary.
Those are the main pieces of any grant proposal that you submit, and it’s important to cover all of that information. There will also usually be other pieces of information that they want included as a supplement. They’ll want to look at the overall organization budget to see how the budget for the project fits in. They’ll want to look at who your team is, the people that are going to be actually working on the project. They want to see funding support. Sometimes, they want audited financial statements and other documents. But read the RFP carefully, because they will tell you exactly what it is that they want in that document.
For now, this is your non-profit engineer, Russ Dennis. If you’d like to have a conversation with me about grants, click on the link below to schedule a complementary discovery session with me using that link. I look forward to talking with you soon, and keep an eye on this space, where we’ll be talking a little bit more about grants in a future post.
Until then, make it a great day, and thank you for your service.4 Steps to Building a High Performance Nonprofit