The Grant Proposal is the most important part of the Grant Application process. If your proposal and application do not specifically address the grant requirements and demonstrate need, all of your efforts will have been in vain and you will likely not be very successful in obtaining grant money. Private Foundations and Government Agencies receive literally thousands of grant applications each day. So you must make sure your proposal and application stand above the rest. This section serves as an overview. This and other sections listed in the orientation category will equip you with the tools you need to compile a successful grant proposal and application.
A successful grant proposal is well prepared, thoughtfully planned, and concisely packaged. Each grant-making agency may have different application procedures, forms and requirements. When you identify a grant-making agency that suits your needs, make sure you become very well versed in the requirements of the program and become very familiar with the application process. Determine all key application forms and make sure you understand all the questions on the application forms. If you do not, contact the grant-making agency for clarification.
You should read all orientation sections in the American Grant Provider Directory in their entirety and reference them again when you are in the process of completing your grant application. You should also download the grant-writing tutorial and become familiar with the process.
Demonstrating Need and Meeting Requirements
Most grant programs require demonstration of need. A grant-making agency will not just simply grant money just because you requested it. You must become very familiar with the requirements of the grant program and supply supporting documentation to demonstrate need. For example, if you plan on starting a business - develop a business plan and itemize anticipated expenses. Show how and where you plan to invest your time and the grant money. If your business benefits the community (by hiring new workers, for example) make sure you state this and show how. Private Foundations in particular like to see their grants benefit communities.
Different programs of course have different "supporting documentation" requirements. For example, If you are a low income earner seeking a grant for a down payment on a home, you would obviously need to provide proof of income. If you are seeking grant money for educational purposes, you may have to demonstrate acceptance to an approved college or intent to accept based on the availability of funds.
It is very important to make sure you address ALL the needs of the grant program and supply as much supporting documentation as possible.
Finding a Grant-Making Agency
You will find literally thousands of direct and indirect links to Government and Private Foundation Grant-making agencies in the the American Grant Provider Directory. The Providers are linked by category (business, personal, educational, health, etc), by source (Federal, State and Private Foundation), by popularity (top 100 federal programs, etc). We suggest you take your time and identify one, or preferrably more, grant providers that issue grant money to your cause or need.
Once a potential grantor agency is identified, gather a notepad and pen and call the contact telephone number identified and ask for a grant application kit. Ask the contact for any application suggestions and ask them about prior successful applications. Ask questions like "What made a grant application stand out", "What differentiated a successful grant application from a non-successful one", etc. Try to garnish as much information as possible. This is key to increasing your advantage above other grant-seekers. Communicate your need and ask if their program is suitable. You must focus your efforts, so the latter question is important. If they can't answer your questions, ask them to suggest somebody who can. Remember to always be polite and courteous when communicating with agency staff.
Keep in Contact
Maintain contact with the grant-making agencies that you applied to. Ask them when a decision will be made and who will make it. If your application has been rejected, politely ask for suggestions and criticism. Record as much information as you can - this will help with subsequent applications. Ask when you will be eligible to apply again and thank them for their review. If your application is rejected, don't get discouraged - view it as an educational experience and move on to the next grant-making agency.