Grant Writing 101: How to Write the Best Grant Proposal
Do you want to start a new business or side hustle, but you just don’t have the funds? Don’t let a lack of capital stop you from pursuing your dreams. There are a ton of organizations out there that offer grants to help entrepreneurs at all stages of their business, but it can be challenging to get your grant proposals approved. We’ll take a look at the different types of funding proposals and what you need to write an effective grant proposal.
Benefits of Obtaining Funding Through a Grant Proposal
If you’re not familiar with how grants work, you may be wondering why you would choose grant writing as your method of obtaining capital to fund your new business. There’s one main difference (and it’s a big one) between obtaining money from a grant as opposed to a loan: you don’t have to pay the money back. This is huge for an entrepreneur who is just starting out, as it will mean you don’t have a cloud hanging over your head, knowing that you need to start paying your loan back with interest. In addition, your project will have the clout of being associated with whatever organization granted you funding, which can convince potential clients or investors of your validity.
Types of Grant Proposals
Depending on the grant you are applying for, funding proposals can come in a few main formats. Always make sure that your grant proposal includes everything the grant requires, exactly as written. If the proposal doesn’t meet all of the requirements, it may be disqualified automatically, even if your idea is sound. Here are three of the most common types of grant proposals you will see in your search.
Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
A letter of inquiry is the most direct way to reach out to a foundation with a grant proposal and find out if they are interested before investing your time in creating a full proposal. It is usually two or three pages and summarizes the project you want to be funded. When writing an LOI, you should go into enough detail that the organization can understand exactly what you intend to do, how you will achieve it, and why they should be interested, but don’t get into the nitty-gritty at this stage.
Once they have received your LOI, if they are interested, they will request a more in-depth funding proposal. This saves your time and that of the funder and lets you know right away where to focus your grant writing attention. Make sure to check the website of the foundation to see if they have any requests for proposals listed before sending in your grant proposal to ensure it fits their guidelines. Remember to customize your LOI for each specific grant you apply for, and adjust the details according to what each is looking for.
Although they sound similar, an LOI and a letter proposal are not interchangeable when it comes to grant writing. Whereas an LOI is simply introducing your grant proposal to an organization, a letter proposal is a more succinct version of a full funding proposal. Some corporations aren’t interested in soliciting a lengthy grant proposal and instead, choose to request a letter proposal. These are usually three or four pages and should cover everything included in a full grant proposal, including the amount of money you’re asking for.
A full proposal is what you probably immediately associate with grant writing. Depending on the detail required by each grant proposal, they can be up to 25 pages. It is a more formal approach to grant writing and goes into detail about your project, the amount of money you’re requesting, what you intend to do with the funds and how you plan to make it happen. It’s important that whatever form of grant proposal you are writing, you make an effort to convince the reader that they should give the grant to you. You are pitching yourself and your business, and you need to show them why your project is more worthy than the rest of the funding proposals they will receive.
How to Write a Grant Proposal
Grant proposals are similar to business plans: they need to clearly outline the structure of your business, including budgets, marketing strategy, logo design and branding, and so much more. They also need to showcase a strong understanding of the numbers, going into detail about the money you need, what you intend to do with it, and how exactly it will be used, broken down to the last dollar. This is where you need to convince the organization that you are responsible and have a thorough grasp of how their money will be put to good use in your business.
You should also look at the grant writing process from the other side. Organizations want to fund projects that have impacts beyond you as an individual. If you are able to show the good that your project will do for the organization, the community or the world, you may have a better chance of getting your grant proposal noticed. Each grant proposal request will differ to some degree, so make sure you read the request closely and adhere to the specific guidelines for each of your submissions. Have a look at some funding proposal templates or grant proposal examples to see how others have written their grant proposals, so you understand the basic structure.
Grant Proposal Templates
If the prospect of grant writing still feels daunting, don’t worry. There are lots of organizations that offer funding proposal templates and assist you with the full process of applying for funding. Here are a few free grant proposal examples to get you started.
- Kurtzweil Educational Systems has a sample grant proposal that walks you through all the information you need to apply their template to your funding proposal.
- If your grant proposal is for a nonprofit organization, Snowball Fundraising has a grant proposal template as well as a more in-depth guide to grant writing.
- PandaDoc goes over how to write each section of your grant proposal and explains them all in simple terms.
Dos and Don’ts of Grant Proposal Writing
To sum it up:
- Do research the organization in detail before writing your grant proposal.
- Don’t send a form letter of inquiry – they need to be customized for each funding proposal.
- Do look for requests for funding proposals online.
- Don’t send in a grant proposal without checking the organization’s submission requirements.
Now that you’ve got a handle on what you need to write a great grant proposal, get out there and get started on your entrepreneurial journey!