How to Write a Grant Proposal

You’ve finally got it together: You have organizational readiness in place, you’ve picked out the individual grant awards that most closely match your primary mission and now you’re all set to start grant writing. Now you’re sitting at the computer screen looking at the curser blink – and blink – and blink. It’s the moment of epiphany that makes you wonder just how to grant write, and even thinking about hiring an experienced grant writer. Here’s a crash course in the basics of how to write a grant.

Grant Writing 101

The first thing you need to understand about the grant writing process as a whole is that all grant applications contain some common elements. Another thing that’s helpful to have is a firm grasp of academic writing. All federal and private requests for proposals, called RFP’s for short, ask for much of the same information, but in different formats.

Grant Application Formats

Government Grant RFP’s: Government grant writing requests for proposals are generally formatted in three distinct, yet different ways. Most government RFP’s are submitted by completing a fill in the blank, downloadable form. The second RFP application used by the government is known as an online HTML form where the grant applicant simply fills in data inside a government computer system and saves it for submission. Other government grant applications come in the form of what is called a White Paper.

Originally, the term white paper was used as shorthand to refer to an official government report, indicating that the document is authoritative and informative in nature. Grant writers typically use this genre when they argue in support of funding to be used for a specific position and then propose a solution to a problem, addressing the audience outside of their organization, such as government reviewers.

Private and corporate grant applications also come in three common forms: Downloadable applications, Internet accessible online HTML form applications and something akin to White Papers, but not as formal called a simple proposal.

Common Elements

All RFP applications ask for some of the same elements and this holds true in both government and private grant applications. Remember that while foundational grant writing will usually focus on the cohesion of joint primary missions and the ability to follow directions in an exacting, didactic nature, government grant writing differs by literally plugging in data values.

Thesis Statement or Research Synopsis: A thesis statement is a single declarative sentence that states exactly what you want your readers to know, believe, or understand after having read your request. All grant requests require a thesis statement. The context or argument supporting the thesis in private applications and in research proposals supports claims made in the thesis statement.

Specific Aims and Measurable Outcomes: Specific aims are made up of goals you will accomplish in a dedicated order to achieve the final outcome for which you plan to use awarded grant money, as indicated in your thesis statement. If you plan to use grant money to expand your business, the granting agency will want to know exactly how that money will be used and the yardstick you will use to measure success.

Grant writing doesn’t have to be a mind-bending or nerve wracking experience. Sometimes, you may want to consider hiring an experienced professional grant writer to help you. If you follow the instructions provided by each RFP in a step by step fashion, your grant writing experience can be both fun and financially rewarding.