Grant Writing and Management


Proposal Writing Tips

books2.jpgProposal Development
Some foundations or government agencies require you to organize the proposal according to clearly stated guidelines outlined in standardized forms.  Other funding agencies may provide a more general description of the information that is needed. In general, the major elements of a well-written proposal include:

Problem Statement or Need
Why is this project necessary?  How will it advance knowledge or provide information that has practical value? Consider one or more of the following persuasive techniques that is appropriate to your project: use facts or statistics; provide hopeful resolution to the need; offer the project as a potential model; decide if the problem is acute; determine whether your program is different or better than existing models without being critical of others.  In addition, discuss how the proposed project will advance the mission of the University, enhance the lives of students, provide faculty development, or serve as a model for other institutions.

The Project Description
Goal and Objectives
What is the goal of your project?  The goal is abstract and conceptual and can be stated in general terms.  Conversely, the objective statement(s) that support the goal are tangible, specific, measurable, and realistic.  Clearly stated objectives are essential to a proposal's success and ultimately tie into the project evaluation.

How will you accomplish the objectives?  This section describes specific activities that will be implemented in order to fulfill the objectives. Using a descriptive framework of how, when, or why, the methods section should enable the potential funder to visualize the implementation of the project. 

Who will implement the project? It is helpful to include information on staff members who will carry out the project.  Include information about the number of staff, qualifications, and specific assignments.

How will you measure its success?  The evaluation should be built into the proposal, not an afterthought.  Of course, the appropriate type of evaluation depends on your specific project. You should consider either one or both types of formal evaluation; one measures the product while the other measures process.  No matter the type of evaluation, you need to describe the collection method of evaluative information and how it will be assessed.

How will the project be funded in the future?  Grant makers want to know if the project is finite (with start and ending dates) or that it is capacity-building (operate self-sufficiently or be revenue generating) or will appeal to other funders.  Be as specific as possible with examples instead of projecting possibilities. 

What are the specific expenses that require funding?  Review the proposal narrative and develop a list of all personnel and non-personnel costs related to the project.  Will the project require salaries and fringe benefits, additional space or facilities other than presently available, alteration of facilities, additional office equipment, furniture, supplies, telephone service, consultant costs, computers, programming money, publicity materials, travel or entertainment, conference attendance, or speaker costs?

Ask yourself:  Are all of the dollars requested really needed to successfully implement the program?  Am I asking for everything I need to accomplish my goal?  Eliminate excess expenses that may lead the reviewer to question your assessment of wants versus legitimate needs. Be able to defend every budget expense both verbally and through your budget narrative.

  Source: Geever, Jane. (2001). "Guide to Proposal Writing". The Foundation Center. 


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