Tips for Creating The Best Proposal
Grant Application Training
Tips for Creating The Best Proposal
Writing your grant proposal should be a process that you take very
seriously, involving several drafts in which you seek help, critique and
in which you are willing to take feedback to improve your presentation.
Here are a few things to think about when preparing your proposal.
Apply to the Right Funding Source
Before you even begin putting your proposal together, be sure you
have picked out sources that will actually consider what you are
proposing. Nothing is worse than wasting your time preparing a document
that will just go directly to the “circular file” (trash).
Check For Proposal Requirements
For each of the sources you are applying to, research first to see if
there are specific requirements for proposals they will accept.
Remember the old school exercise where you where instructed to read the
entire page first before starting, only to jump in and answer a whole
page of questions only to have found that the last instructions directs
you to fill out nothing on the page and just turn it in? Again, don’t
waste your time turning in a “stock” proposal without seeing if there
are requirements that must be included specific to the individual
Set Yourself Apart
Make your goals and plan for achieving them clear, including anything
that may set you apart from the many other proposals under
consideration. If you can stand out from the “rest of the stack” that
may be the deciding factor on you receiving funding over another
That typo stands out, doesn’t it? The same will be true if you
submit a document that contains obvious errors, especially simple typos.
Proposal reviewers and most anyone that reads through many documents
for a living are very observant of errors such as these. Typos look
unprofessional and convey a feeling that you are not serious or perhaps
not qualified to receive funding.
Be Practical and Realistic
When writing your proposal, be sure to request not only adequate
funding to meet your proposed purpose, but also avoid requesting funds
beyond your needs. Substantiate your monetary requests with detailed
and convincing ways you will be utilizing received funds to show you
have thought through successfully utilizing grant funding.
Get Outside Review/Feedback
At some point, perhaps after the first or second draft is completed,
seek out a neutral third party to review the proposal working draft for
continuity, clarity and reasoning. Ask for constructive criticism at
this point, rather than wait for the Federal grantor agency to volunteer
this information during the review cycle. For example, has the writer
made unsupported assumptions or used jargon or excessive language in the
Proposals should be typed, collated, copied, and packaged correctly
and neatly (according to agency instructions, if any). Each package
should be inspected to ensure uniformity from cover to cover. Binding
may require either clamps or hard covers. Check with the Federal agency
to determine its preference. A neat, organized, and attractive proposal
package can leave a positive impression with the reader about the
Most proposals are made to institutions rather than individuals.
Often signatures of chief administrative officials are required. Check
to make sure they are included in the proposal where appropriate.
Mailing Your Proposal
A cover letter should always accompany a proposal. Standard U.S.
Postal Service requirements apply unless otherwise indicated by the
Federal agency. Make sure there is enough time for the proposals to
reach their destinations. Otherwise, special arrangements may be
necessary. Always coordinate such arrangements with the Federal grantor
agency project office (the agency which will ultimately have the
responsibility for the project), the grant office (the agency which will
coordinate the grant review), and the contract office (the agency
responsible for disbursement and grant award notices), if necessary.