How do I write a grant proposal?
Note: If you want information on writing grant proposals for an individual project, click here.
This might be our most popular question, and we have many resources to help you learn how to write a proposal for your nonprofit:
Start with our free introductory classes, Introduction to Proposal Writing, available as a live/recorded webinar, in-person class, or self-paced eLearning course. In all formats, you'll learn about a proposal's components -- executive summary, statement of need, project description, and budget -- and other things you'll need to consider when preparing and submitting proposals. Budgets are an essential part of any proposal, so we recommend you also start with Introduction to Project Budgets.
After you've taken the introductory classes, consider following up with our with our free 15-session Online Proposal Writing Course.
Watch this Candid video to learn 3 top tips for staying organized while keeping your grant proposal content fresh:
Check out Candid's eBook collection from anywhere in the world. It's easy to sign up, and we have a selection of books specifically on proposal writing.
Explore our Proposal Writing topic page, which spotlights upcoming training, articles, videos, podcasts, live chats, and books that we've published on this topic.
See also "Document Checklist for Grant Proposals", a 3-part blog post series that covers the many types of documents often needed during this process.
Remember: Proposal writing is just one step in the grantseeking process. You should spend far more time developing the program or project and researching and cultivating donors than on preparing the actual proposal.
"The proposal does not stand alone," writes Jane Geever, author of The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing. "It must be part of a process of planning and of research on, outreach to, and cultivation of potential foundation and corporate donors."
Usually donors and applicants don't share proposals. However, our Sample Documents section is a searchable collection of actual proposals, cover letters, letters of inquiry, and proposal budgets that were actually funded. Each proposal includes a critique by the decision-maker who awarded the grant.
You also might check if anyone in your professional networks would be willing to share sample proposals.
Dive in to this topic with these free self-paced Candid courses:
- Online Proposal Writing Course Learn how to craft a complete and competitive proposal in 15 lessons.
- Creating a Sound Proposal Budget Learn key best practices in preparing a project budget for your funders.
- Quick Take! Hear from a funder:
More Knowledge Base articles about proposal writing.
To learn more about this topic, selected resources below may also be helpful.
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Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:
Elements of a Grant Proposal
This information comes from The Center for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles and gives a quick overview of the parts of a proposal.
Four Ways to Make Your Grant Appendix Shine
Four Ways to Make Your Grant Appendix Shine | GuideStar Four tips on what to do and not do in your grant proposal's appendix.
New Music USA
Grant Applications: 5 Mistakes Not to Make
This article outlines common mistakes in applying for grant funding and how to avoid them.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Grant Proposal Writing Tips
Offers a helpful overview for preparing and writing a grant proposal. This information is general in nature and would apply to many kinds of projects.
The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Grant Proposals (or Give me the money!)
This handout will help you write and revise grant proposals for research funding in all academic disciplines (sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts). Targeted primarily to graduate students and faculty, but also helpful to undergraduates who are seeking funding for research (e.g. for a senior thesis). Includes sample budget and project timeline.
National Minority AIDS Council [PDF]
This manual presents the fundamentals of preparing a successful grant proposal for securing funds from private and public sources.
Guarding Against Grant Fraud
Guarding against fraud in grant proposals is a responsibility of good management. Suggests 4 major steps to take as part of your policies and procedures for proposals, whether they are produced in-house or by consultants.
Social Science Research Council [PDF]
On the Art of Writing Proposals
Eight pages of proposal writing advice for scholarly researchers.
Helpful links include a timeline/checklist and tips on developing successful proposals and on preparing grant proposals for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Kurzweil Educational Systems [PDF]
Sample Cover Letter,Proposal,Letter Proposal
Each section includes a brief description of its purpose and what to include.
Sample Grant Application Questions and Narrative
An excellent example from an arts nonprofit.
Sample Project Description for Young Artist Grant Proposal
2006 recipient of DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities' Young Artist Grant shares the project description from his winning proposal.
Nonprofit Works Inc.
Templates, Worksheets, Guides, and Sample Documents
Contains downloadable templates, worksheets, and sample documents for planning, budgets, fund development, communications, and board training.
Yale Fellowships & Funding
Writing a Fellowship Proposal
Provides general advice and questions to consider in formulating a fellowship proposal.
Minnesota Council on Foundations
Writing a Successful Grant Proposal
Offers extensive information on putting together a grant proposal to submit to funders.
Winning Grants Step by Step
Find: Amazon | Free eBook
The Only Grant-Writing Book You'll Ever Need
Find: Amazon | Free eBook
The Art of Funding and Implementing Ideas