Overview of a Proposal

When you write your grant proposal, keep your goals and objectives in mind. Your goal is whatever it is you plan to do with the grant award; for example, increase the number of retail businesses in the Main Street district.

Your objective is how you are going to achieve your goal. How will you increase the number of retail businesses? Include all the activities or action steps you can take to realize the goal. For example, you can increase consumer interest in the district by designing an Internet forum in which 20,000 employees working for neighboring corporations within a ten-mile radius can go online and view menus from dozens of restaurants.

Writing a grant proposal is like writing a business plan. Outline your goals in a manner that will attract someone to fund your venture. The inclination is to jump right into your need for funding up front and make an impassioned plea. Don't do this. You need to first state a compelling problem, not unlike the way a narrative sets up the intriguing story line of a novel. You must reach a point where the reader will wonder how to resolve the significant dilemma you present. The meat and potatoes of the proposal will then explain how you will set goals to tackle this problem. This section will also detail how your organization is capable of doing the work necessary to complete this mission. Finally, you will detail the manner in which a grant award will resolve the issues. This is a very broad overview, but it explains the basics of what a grant proposal should do.

Grant proposals need to identify expected outcomes. These outcomes are also known as measurable objectives, which need to be clearly defined in your proposal and must be achievable.

The topics covered in your proposal should usually include:

  • A project summary

  • Information about your organization

  • A problem statement

  • Your goals, objectives, and desired outcomes

  • Your plan of action or methodology

  • How you will analyze or evaluate your results

  • The budget

  • Sometimes a wrap-up page or two will follow and, in many instances, you will have additional pages of data, which we'll discuss in the final section of the proposal.

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