What Is a Non-Profit Grant Proposal?

A nonprofit grant proposal is a document that a nonprofit organization creates that outlines what they plan to do with the grant money they are requesting. The nonprofit grant proposal calls to an institution to partner with them to accomplish a project or program. The document also expands on necessary information to appeal for money to the non-profit organization. Every year, there are plenty of corporations, firms, organizations, and government agencies that dispense generous amounts of funds for grants, providing many opportunities for nonprofits to grab the attention of these entities for their projects and programs. A nonprofit grant proposal must be persuasive and provide a well-supported argument to its audience to convince and approve of the project or program of the nonprofit organization. Implement successful grant writing strategies with a mixture of budget planning and strategic planning. Make sure that the grant proposal also communicates how the project or program the nonprofit plans to implement are in alignment with organizational goals and objectives.

According to an article from the Aspen Institute, a survey from The Bridgespan Group, and JPMorgan Chase, nonprofit organizations indicate the top four areas from communities that need the most help. Fundraising events rank first at 61 percent, followed by communications and marketing at 51 percent, program evaluation at 38 percent, and performance management at 31 percent.

Components of a Non-Profit Grant Proposal

It is challenging to win grants for a nonprofit organization, especially if grants come from government agencies, private foundations, and other grant-giving organizations that have limited funding capacities. There is no standardized format for creating nonprofit grant proposals, so it is vital for the team responsible for writing the document to become familiar with the essential parts of a non-profit grant proposal. The following section details the components of the grant proposal and descriptions to help better understand the document.

Cover letter: Similar to any applications and proposal, an NPO must introduce itself and the grant proposal to the individual that will be deciding to approve or deny the grant. The cover letter must make a great first impression on the organization by making a compelling and comprehensive letter. It must give a brief description of the organization and its mission statement. It must also explain the organizational plan upon receiving the grant. Aside from that, the cover letter must fulfill the requirements and interests of the funding entity. It must also state the possible influences of the program over the target beneficiaries and convey the dedication of the nonprofit over the proposed project. Compose the cover letter after completing the entire proposal for a more accurate and creative document that reflects the grant plan. Address the cover letter to the receiving officer offering the grant.Executive summary: Executive summaries explain the principal points and the possible impact of the business decision. This section of the non-profit grant proposal is vital as it is one of the first things that funding institutions read first and decide whether or not they want to read its entirety. The executive summary must convince the funder that the proposed program is a necessity to the community, that the nonprofit shows knowledge and background in implementing and achieving the proposed project, and that the plan is relevant to the requirements and visions of the funding entity. The section must specify the mission and purpose of the nonprofit for the project, indicate the specific issue that requires a solution, identify its impact on the community, produce success criteria, list specific competencies, project costs, and sources of funding. The executive summary is four to six paragraphs containing specific and detailed information about the proposed project.Need statement: In this section on the grant proposal, the nonprofit details the issue that the program needs to address. The section aims to pinpoint the purpose and urgency of the plan. The need statement must convince the grant program officer that the proposed project solves the issue or produces a positive impact on the community. Focus on explaining the principal problem that drives the project, conveying a sense of urgency, providing community history, using authoritative statistics, and incorporating visual materials while keeping the statement brief.Goals and objectives: The goals and objectives section of the grant proposal indicates the exact outcomes the program wishes to accomplish. Reference the need statement to explain the goals and objectives to ensure the continuity and relevance of the two sections. Break down the section into subsections of individual goals, with subsections as a funnel. Structuring the section in this way helps communicate to the funding institution that the nonprofit has SMART goals. To guarantee that the funding institution has a full understanding of the nonprofit’s abilities, tie the goals with the need statement, think of objectives as the actions, provide quantifiable goals and budgets, and keep the section within one to two pages.Methods and strategies: The methods and strategies section explains the procedures and processes of implementing the proposed project. This section is the heart and soul of the non-profit grant proposal. The methods and strategies serve as the longest part of the proposal that offers a lengthy and detailed explanation of the plans, strategies, and steps for each part of the project and its proper implementation. There must be a full model of the program with explanations, visuals, and other tools that aid its execution. It must also indicate the roles and responsibilities of individuals, describe partnerships during the plan, list and explain tools, materials, and platforms, relate the policy and procedures, involve and keep donors and stakeholders, and anticipate problems while providing alternative solutions to accomplish objectives. This section provides a tangible plan for the funding agency. Think of it as a high-stakes sales pitch.Evaluation plan: The evaluation plan is the section of the non-profit grant proposal that addresses the grant requirements that the funding agency establishes for eligibility. The evaluation plan must have concrete and quantifiable results that measure the program’s success. A strong evaluation plan must accomplish multiple tasks at once, including helping the team establish a comprehensive plan and evaluation schedule, providing the funding agency to evaluate project success, assure efficient use of grant funds, and secure accountability as a sign of respect. It also serves as a guide for the nonprofit to follow as the institution implements the funding program. If the plan cannot meet the goals and objectives of the grant plan, the evaluation plan can identify the problem area to address the issues.Budget information: Another essential portion of the non-profit grant proposal that tells the funding agency that the proposed project is actionable and sustainable. Note the instances in the duration of the project wherein the nonprofit must dispense funds to perform tasks or activities. These expenses include employee compensation, travel expenses, fringe benefits, supply and equipment costs, indirect or overhead costs, and market value contributions. An organized and well-distributed budget makes it easier for the granting entity to decipher financial sustainability. Provide the necessary information, explanations, and data for other funding sources that the organization obtains to accomplish project objectives. It is also advisable to write a quick overview of the expense breakdown of daily operational sources. CRM software is also a helpful tool in collecting and collating budget information.Organizational background: The last section of the non-profit grant proposal is the organizational background that provides the funding agency with a clear understanding of the nonprofit’s identity and history. An understanding of how the proposed project translates to the vision statement, mission statement, and growth of the organization is a deciding factor for many funding entities. The section must indicate a brief description of the founding of the nonprofit, a list of the past projects, programs, and initiatives, and short biographies of key personnel. It is also beneficial to humanize the members of the nonprofit with personal information, background, and competencies.

How To Write a Non-Profit Grant Proposal

With over thousands of nonprofit organizations across the world and the United States planning to apply for grants from different agencies, not every nonprofit will be lucky enough to have the grant. Many funding agencies can still cater to an NPO’s funding needs for a project if these organizations knew where to look. There are different ways for nonprofits to acquire a grant for their projects by writing an effective and comprehensive proposal. The section below details a helpful guide to writing a non-profit grant proposal for a funding agency.

  • 1. Find the Best Grant Appropriate For the Project

    If you do not know where to find a grant for your nonprofit budget, you can search for grant funds online, ask around from local foundations around your vicinity within similar fields, or go to a local library. The local library houses individuals that have experience and expertise in research studies that can help you in searching for the ideal funding agency. Remember not to waste so much time sending applications to agencies outside of the NPO’s niche. Instead, focus on those with similar interests and objectives.

  • 2. Put Time and Effort into Conducting Research

    Many funding institutions have requirements and guidelines when writing the non-profit grant proposal. If you already have a chosen institution to send the document to, familiarize yourself with the necessary guidelines and learn about the information about the submission process, including the submission date, financial limitations, and the letter of intent or LOI. After, visit the website of the financial institution and identify the previous NPOs who worked with them. Read about the critical feedback from these organizations to see if they are the best fit for the project.

  • 3. Construct a Clear Grant Plan

    The next step is to meet with team members and discuss work divisions and responsibilities. Since some grantors require NPOs to produce an LOI, which is a short version of a grant proposal, you must summarize the main goal and ideas you have for the project. The LOI provides a clear and brief insight of the organization, its plans, and the benefits of the donors from working with the nonprofit. Through the LOI, grantors can recognize whether the ideas or plans are a good fit for their agency.

  • 4. Create the Letter of Intent

    Make sure that the letter of intent is brief and eye-catching to the grantor. If the funding agency explicitly provides a format, the NPO must follow it. If there is no format available, the first paragraph of the LOI must indicate a summary of the grant request, explaining the offer, price, and reason for the project. It must also indicate the needs, program model, objectives, budget plan, project schedule, partners, organizational background, and contact information.

  • 5. Write a Full Grant Proposal for the Organization

    Upon the receipt and approval of the letter of intent, the next step is to prepare writing the entire grant proposal. Set up a consultation meeting with the project team and start composing the document. The non-profit grant proposal is a longer version of the grant proposal. Unlike academic papers, it does not require academic writing styles. The grant proposal must answer the essential questions regarding the project and how it benefits the funding agency. Make sure to include research data, statistics, necessary citations, and a reference list as necessary.

  • 6. Meet the Given Deadline

    Do not wait until the last submission date to pass the grant proposal. Many funding agencies are very strict when it comes to setting deadlines and will not hesitate to reject proposals past the assigned date. Give yourself enough time to revise and edit the document.


How do you start a grant proposal?

The first step in writing any grant proposal is to write a cover letter or letter of intent to the funding organization.

How do you make a grant proposal stand out?

There are different ways to ensure that your organization’s grant proposal stands out. First, do sufficient research, find a good match for the nonprofit, make a good first impression, watch the language you use, paint a picture to tell a story, and follow the requirements from the funding agency.

How long are grant proposal supposed to be?

Depending on the requirements of a funding organization, grant proposals typically range from 5 to 25 pages.

Writing a grant proposal for a nonprofit organization is necessary to implement targeted projects to develop communities. The grant proposal helps explain how the programs can aid different neighborhoods while upholding the mission and vision of the nonprofit. It also ensures that the nonprofit share similar sentiments and goals for them to accomplish the project together. The grant proposal also provides valuable information about the nonprofit that can help the funding agency to make rational and fair decisions. Start writing a non-profit grant proposal for your organization by browsing and downloading from the 5+ SAMPLE Non-Profit Grant Proposal in PDF, only at Sample.net.