The following will outline what is involved in grant writing from planning, executing, and follow-up. In order to write a grant proposal, one should understand what a grant is. A grant is a financial award from a grantor (funder) to a grantee (grant seeker). The grantee implements the proposed program or services outlined in the grant proposal. The program or service fulfills a public need.

Grant seekers are usually 501(c)(3)non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and on a smaller scale, individuals. Funders are from the private or public sector. Private funders include foundations, and corporations, while public funders are local, state, and federal governments.

Concept for crowdfunding

General Information

Grants are vital funding sources for non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and individuals. Effective grant writing is a key skill for any grant seeker, and it is important to understand what is involved in winning grants.

Grant writing is process, and there are many things to consider during this process. Before the actual grant proposal is written, there are a series of tasks that lead up to a submitted proposal. Grant seekers must identify adequate human resource(s). In addition, grant seekers need to evaluate what program(s) needs funding, research viable funding sources, write and submit the proposal, and follow-up as needed. If you are looking for grant writing training, one option is Grant Space who offers online and in-person training.

Planning to Write a Grant

The first step in the grant writing process is to perform a needs assessment. The grant seeker should identify what program(s) needs funding, and how much funding is needed. The grant seeking organization must then identify who will lead the grant writing process. Determine if an employee, volunteer, or paid contractor will lead the process.
Research must be done to find the appropriate funder. There are several tools to find funders, such as the local library, searching , or research via internet search engines. One great resource to locate funders is the The Foundation Center’s online directory. Many funding information is not public, and this tool is good to use to access funders you may not otherwise find. There are varying access levels, and costs.

The Anatomy of a Grant Proposal

Once a grant seeker has identified the program that needs funding, and potential grant funders, it is time to start drafting the grant proposal. While there will always be differences among what funders require, there are some universal elements to most grants, and these are outlined below. It is important to note that federal grants are generally more complex, and thus take more time to complete. No matter the funding source, it is critical to follow the funder’s requirements to the letter. In addition, always make sure that the program you are requesting funding for matches the funder’s interests and requirements. The primary reason grants do not get funded is because the grant seeker’s program is not a match with the funder’s interests and requirements.

Cover Letter

A cover letter may not always be required, so be sure to check the funder’s requirements. Although it is a cover letter, it is usually best to write it after the entire proposal has been written. The cover letter should get to the point of how much money is needed, what it is needed for, and who you are as an organization or individual. The cover letter should also navigate the reader through the grant proposal, and be addressed to the funder’s contact.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a formal document that summarizes the most important points of the grant proposal. This should generally be no more than one page, and is placed before the grant narrative.

Statement of Need (Problem Statement)

The statement of need is a critical part of the grant proposal. Here the grant writer will want to draw the funder in. The statement of need should include important statistics that support the need for funding. The statement of need is a balance between presenting a clear need that is supported by facts, and telling a compelling story that will appeal to the reader. The grant writer should be very careful as too many statistics may not appeal to the human side of the funder, and too much story telling could turn the funder off.

Program Description

Here you want to give more detail of the program that needs funding. This is the heart of the grant proposal. This section of the grant proposal should detail how the funds will be used, and what the expected positive results will be. The grant seeker should clearly define who will benefit from the proposed program or services. The program description should lay out program goals and measureable objectives, and how the organization or individual plans to attain them. In addition, the program description should cite methods of evaluating program success.


The grant proposal should outline the budget for the execution of the grant program activities. The budget is directly linked to goals, and measurable objectives. Funders will want to see this information, and know of any other funding sources. Once the goals and objectives are clearly defined, then a budget should be created. The budget should also clearly document staffing, and other administrative costs. While many funders do not provide funding for administrative expenses, this information must still be included. It is best to always give the funder an honest picture of program expenses.



The closing should succinctly reiterate key points of the grant proposal. The grant proposal is quite detailed, so the closing does not need to be extensive.

illustration hand offering money


Grant writing is a very involved process, and requires a lot of planning before submitting to a funder; however, the rewards are well worth the effort. The process of writing a grant proposal is a great learning experience for grant seekers. There are many resources available to help grant writers, including the local library, online resources, The Foundation Center, or With the right resources, and proper planning, you are well on your way to a great grant proposal.

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