Essential Components

A good grant proposal, like a good news story, tells who, what, where, when, why, and how.

“Who” is both the organization you are describing and the target population whose needs you expect to address with your project. You'll answer that in the needs section of the proposal.

“Where” is a description of the city or region in which the project will take place. You have to address where in the needs section.

“What” describes your project in detail. You'll place this in the projectdescription section.

“When” is your timeline of activities and it is contained in the project description.

“How” and “why?” You'll be answering these in various places throughout the RFP, like so:

  • How many (people, units of service, hours)?

  • How much (change is expected in the population/environment/ outcomes)?

  • How will you know? (evaluation)

  • How much does it cost? (budget)

  • How does your program fit the goals of the grant program?

  • Why did you choose this particular program?

  • Why is your organization the best one to do the work?

  • Why do you think the project will work?

  • Why should the grantor care?

  • You will be asked to describe all the essential components listed here in every grant proposal. Some RFPs, however, will also ask such things as the history of the organization, the genesis for the project, the roles of partners in the project, and the input by constituents or the target population into the design or evaluation of the project.

    You might be asked to include your plan for disseminating the results of your evaluation. Some agencies want to know what literature you used in developing your project. You'll also be asked how you will sustain the program after grant funds are expended.

    A new trend in grant proposals, especially among foundations, is a question about constituent input into program design and/or the evaluation process. This is to help nonprofit-organization staff begin to realize that they are not the final arbiters of someone else's need.

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