The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase

Element 1: Assess Organizational Needs and Basis for Desired Funding

Purpose: Writing a successful grant application begins with understanding the reason for seeking grant funding from a governmental agency or private foundation. If the grant seeker is a school, the organizational assessment undertaken for improvement planning may provide useful reasons for the desired funding.

The grant seekers organizational assessment must address the subject area the funding organization has an interest in supporting. In regards to a governmental grant proposal, the assessment must address the request for proposal's focus.

Element 1 outlines the tasks involved in creating an organizational assessment.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your Organization

Activity 2: Identify Broad Areas in Need of Improvement

Element 2: Outline the Project Ideas

Purpose: Developing innovative grant ideas that fulfill organizational needs is essential in a successful grant application. The successful grant application will be one that effectively matches the grant seeker's project ideas with the grant funder's interests or programmatic focus!

Activity 1: Create a Project Team

Activity 2: Conceptualize Project

Element 3: Organize for Action

Purpose: Prior to writing the grant application, the project lead should pre-plan how the application will be developed, a timeline for completing it, and an internal review process for the application. Element 3 outlines the steps in creating a road map for the application process.

Activity 1: Understand the Grant Requirements

Activity 2: Plan to Act

Task 2: Write the Proposal Abstract


Guideline: The proposal abstract summarizes the grant application in terms of who, what, where, how, when, and why. The abtract usually just one page in length. It may be useful to write the proposal abstract after the grant proposal is completed. The abstract should emphasize the project's need and include the topics mentioned in the grant's request for proposal or stated requirements.

Great Buzz Words to Use in a Grant Proposal

This list offers great buzz words to include in the grant proposal as appropriate.

Sample Proposal Abstract

This document contains a proposal abstract adapted from samples provided by Dr. Wanda Riesz, Director Grant Writing & Resource Development, Indianapolis (Indiana) Public Schools.

Proposal Abstract Sample

This document offers a sample of a proposal abstract in terms of who, what, where, how, when, and why.

Plain Language

This link to the Plain Language.gov website provides information and resources related to the federal government’s to improve communication with the public. Grant seekers submitting federal grant proposals may find its content useful. Other grant seekers may find its content useful when submitting proposal to other grant funders.


Proposal Writing Short Course

This Foundation Center resource offers a self paced tutorial on the proposal writing process.

Element 4: Develop and Submit the Grant Proposal

Purpose: The grant proposal brings life to the project idea. It is the vehicle the grant seeker uses to sell their idea to the prospective funding sources. Element 4 outlines the steps to develop and submit a successful grant application. Once the application has been submitted, follow-up with the funder is essential.

Activity 1: Develop the Project Plan

Activity 2: Commit the Proposal to Paper

Activity 3: Review and Finalize the Proposal

Element 5: Implement the Grant

Purpose: Upon receiving the grant award it is necessary to have a process in place for administering and managing the grant. Element 5 outlines the steps involved with implementing the project and fulfilling the grant's administrative requirements.

Activity 1: Administer and Manage the Grant

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Project Outcomes