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Grant Writing Introduction
Grant Proposal Writing Tips
Sample Grants Letter

Grant Proposal Preparation Introduction



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.

Grant Proposal Writing Tips


Writing a Grant proposal can be as simple as following the directions in the application packet the agency sends you on request. Add a little flare and your Grant application can stand out, making your chances of selection better. 

Every Private Foundation and Government Agency bestowing Grants has different rules for their application which is why reading the packet you receive thoroughly is so important. Government agencies are sticklers for details, so if you don't follow directions or you make just one small mistake, your application can be disqualified. Private Foundations also require specifics but are not as precise. 

There are reference sources in your library to consult about Grant proposal writing in addition to the advice given here. It's best to read as much as you can in preparation for your Grant writing duties. 

If you are requesting a Grant for a specific idea or project, contact the agency after you receive the packet to see if they have recently awarded any Grants for this type of work. If they have, it may be that no further Grant money is available for that project. You will then have to come up with another idea to obtain your dollars. 

Whatever your idea, try to enlist written support from individuals in your community who may know you and like your idea. Grant applications backed by letters from local government, community and business leaders improves your chances of receiving the award. Federal Grant money may actually require these letters of endorsement. Your application packet will inform you of the specific requirements. 

Even if not required, support letters are encouraged. It gives further credence to your idea and may make the difference if the Grant award comes down to a couple of applications and the agency is forced to choose. 

If you have formed an organization and have a partner or two who have a different expertise than you, add their names and qualifications to the overall proposal. Having assistance on the project often encourages agencies who make Grants available as the projects chances of completion are heightened. 

Bouncing your idea(s) off the Government or Private Foundation individuals who will be considering your Grant request is a sound move. Many of these employees have been there a substantial length of time and will be well-versed in the ins and outs of Grant obtainment. They often appreciate that you asked their advice up front and can do wonders for you in terms of saving time and effort in heading down the wrong track. 

You could make, if convenient, a personal visit to the specific agency to meet the individuals who will be considering your proposal. There may be pertinent reference information in the agency which can help you with your proposal. It always helps to put a name to a face and a professional look will help you in their estimation. 

By all means, stay in contact with these people, especially if they work in the agency to whom you will be submitting your bid(s). Even if you don't get a positive response on the first Grant proposal, keep in touch! They can often tip you off to what future projects have a chance of being funded. If it's in your area of expertise, you have an inside track to the next fund availability. 

You will likely not be the only one writing for Grant money, so you have to do a better job of it than your competitor, by making sure that there is: 

a need for your idea or project; 
sufficient research done on your part to satisfy the grantors; 
no question that you are the best candidate to receive the Grant; 
sufficient time for you to spend reviewing the application process and preparing your Grant proposal; then you will be ready to write your first proposal draft. 


Requesting a Grant 

You need two documents when requesting a Grant: a Grant proposal and a letter of appeal. 

Some foundations would rather work with an organization than with an individual. You will greatly increase your chances of getting a Grant if you create your own nonprofit organization. To do this: First, file for a certificate of incorporation as a nonprofit organization with the Secretary of State. Second, file an application with the IRS and Treasury Department. For detailed information we recommend these publications: 1. A LEGAL GUIDE TO STARTING AND MANAGING NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. {NEW YORK. JOHN WILEY & SONS) 2. HOW TO FORM A NONPROFIT CORPORATION {BERKELEY, CA NOLO PRESS ). Their publications detail how to incorporate your nonprofit organization and corporations and will provide you with the forms required. 

This guide is divided into 3 parts. The First, deals with the development of the Grant proposal, the Second, shows you how to write the proposal itself, and the Third, summarizes the letter of appeal. 

1. The Grant Proposal 

You must describe the specific program that you are requesting the Grant for. Examples are : 

Financial Assistance Scholarships 
Religious Purposes 
Financing for Business or Your Organization Building Fund Campaigns Debt Consolidation Medical Bills Or Other 

Once you have determined which Grant you would like to apply for, the first thing you must do is contact the Grant source and request any information that they make available to prospective applicants. This should include the application form, any brochures or literature on the program and a proposal format or an instruction booklet. 

In addition, find out if there is a specific contact person who can answer your questions and to whom you should direct your proposal. 

After you receive the information, read it thoroughly and take notes, writing down any questions you might have. Next, direct any questions you might have to your contact, ask what specifically the government funding board is looking for in Grant proposals, are they looking for any specific type of projects. 

If you, are in business as a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation the proposal should be submitted in writing on your letterhead and signed by the signing officer. If an individual, write name, address and phone number at the top of the page. 



A successful Grant proposal is one that is well-prepared, thoughtfully planned, and concisely packaged. The potential applicant should become familiar with all of the pertinent program criteria related to the Catalog program from which assistance is sought. Refer to the information contact person listed in the Catalog program description before developing a proposal. Obtain information suc~ as whether funding is available, when applicable deadlines occur, and the process used by the grantor agency for accepting applications. Applicants should remember that the basic requirements, application forms, information and procedures vary with the Government Agency or Private Foundation making the Grant award. 

Individuals without prior Grant proposal writing experience may find it useful to attend a grantsmanship workshop. A workshop can further amplify the information presented here. Applicants interested in additional readings on grantsmanship and proposal development should review the various publications available at public and government libraries. 


1. Developing Ideas for the Proposal 

When developing an idea for a proposal it is important to determine if the idea has been considered in the applicant's locality or State. A careful check should be made with legislators, area government agencies and related public and private agencies which may currently have Grant awards or contracts to do similar work. If a similar program already exists, the applicant may need to reconsider submitting the proposed project, particularly if duplication of effort is perceived. If significant differences or improvements in the proposed projects goal can be clearly established, it may be worthwhile to pursue Federal assistance. When applying to Private Foundations more emphasis is placed on the need for the Grant rather than the originality of an idea. 

2. Community Support 

Community support for most proposals is essential. Once the proposal summary is developed, look for individuals or groups representing academies, political, professional, and lay organizations which may be willing to support the proposal in writing. The type and caliber of community support is critical in the initial and subsequent review phases. Numerous letters .of support can be persuasive to a grantor agency. Do not overlook support from local Government Agencies and public officials. Letters of endorsement detailing exact areas of project sanction and commitment are often requested as part of a proposal to a Federal agency. Several months may be required to develop letters of endorsement since something of value (e.g., buildings, staff, services) is sometimes negotiated between the parties involved. 

Many agencies require, in writing, affiliation agreements (a mutual agreement to share services between agencies) and building space commitments prior to either Grant approval or award. A useful method of generating community support may be to hold meetings with the top decision makers in the community 

who would be concerned with the subject matter of the proposal. The forum for discussion may include a query into the merits of the proposal, development of a strategy to create proposal support from a large number of community groups. When applying to Private Foundations, letters of support from doctors, clergy, or friends can be of help. 

3. Identification of a Funding Resource 

Review the catalog program the Grant agency sends you. Special emphasis should be placed on the Objective and Uses and Use Restrictions sections of the Catalog program. The description can point out which programs might provide funding for an idea. Do not overlook the related programs as potential resources. Both the applicant and the grantor agency should have the same interests, intentions, and needs if a proposal is to be considered an acceptable candidate for funding. 

Once a potential grantor agency is identified, call the contact telephone number identified in Information Contacts and ask for a "grant application kit." Later, get to know some of the grantor agency personnel. Ask for suggestions, criticisms, and advice about the proposed projects. In many cases, the more agency personnel know about the proposal, the better the chance of support and of an eventual favorable decision. Sometimes it is useful to send the proposal summary to a specific agency official in a separate cover letter, and ask for review and comment at the earliest possible convenience. Always check with the Federal agency to determine its preference if this approach is under consideration. If the review is unfavorable and differences cannot be resolved, ask the examining agency or the official to suggest another department or agency which may be interested in the proposal. A personal visit to the agency's regional office or headquarters is also important. A visit not only establishes face-to-face contact, but also may bring out some essential details about the proposal or help secure literature and references from the agency's library. 

Government agencies are required to report funding information as funds are approved, increased or decreased among projects within a given State depending on the type of required reporting. Also, consider reviewing the Federal and State budgets for the current and budget fiscal years to determine proposed dollar amounts for particular budget functions. 

You should carefully study the eligibility requirements for each Federal or State Government program under consideration (see the Applicant Eligibility section of the Catalog program description). The applicant may learn that he or she is required to provide services otherwise unintended such as a service to particular client groups, or involvement of specific institutions. It may necessitate the modifications of the original concept in order for the project to be eligible for funding. Questions about eligibility should be discussed with the appropriate program officer. 

Deadlines for submitting applications are often not negotiable. They are usually associated with strict timetables for agency review. Some programs have more thar, one application deadline during the fiscal year. Applicants should plan proposal development around the established deadlines. 

Getting Organized to Write the Proposal 

Throughout the proposal writing stage keep a notebook handy to write down ideas. Periodically, try to connect ideas by reviewing the notebook. Never throwaway written ideas during the Grant writing stage. Maintain a file labeled "Ideas" or by some other convenient title and review the ideas from time to time. The file should be easily accessible. The gathering of documents such as articles of incorporation, tax exemption certificates, and bylaws should be completed, if possible, before the writing begins. 



At some point, perhaps after the first or second draft is completed, seek out a neutral third party to review the proposal working draft for continuity, clarity and reasoning. Ask for constructive criticism at this point, rather than wait for the Federal grantor agency to volunteer this information during the review cycle. For example, has the writer made unsupported assumptions or used jargon or excessive language in the proposal? 


If the proposal is made by an institutions nonprofit organization or business, signatures of the chief administrative officials are required. Check to make sure they are included in the proposal where appropriate. If you are applying as an individual make sure you have signed the proposal. 


Proposals should be typed, collated, copied, and packaged correctly and neatly (according to agency instructions, if any). Each package should be inspected to ensure uniformity from cover to cover. Binding may require either clamps or hard covers. Check with the Government agency to determine its preference. A neat, organized, and attractive proposal package can leave a positive impression with the reader about the proposal contents. 


A cover letter should always accompany a proposal, Standard U.S. Postal Service requirements apply unless otherwise indicated by the Government agency. Make sure there is enough time for the proposals to reach their destinations. Otherwise, special arrangements may be necessary. Always coordinate such arrangements with the Government Grantor agency project office (the agency which will ultimately have the responsibility for the project), the Grant office (the agency which will coordinate the Grant review), and the contract office (the agency responsible for disbursement and Grant award notices), if necessary. 


The Basic Components of a Proposal 

There are eight basic components to creating a solid proposal package: (1) the proposal summary; (2) introduction of organization; (3) the problem statement (or need); (4) project objectives; (5) project methods or design; (6) project evaluation; (7) future funding; and (8) the project budget. The following will provide an overview of these components. 

1. The Proposal Summary: Outline of Project Goals 

The proposal summary outlines the proposed project and should appear at the beginning of the proposal. It could be in the form of a cover letter or a separate page, but should definitely be brief -no longer than two or three paragraphs. The summary would be most useful if it were prepared after the proposal has been developed in order to encompass all the key summary points necessary to communicate the objectives of the project. It is this document that becomes the cornerstone of your proposal, and the initial impression it gives will be critical to the success of your ventures. 

In many cases, the summary will be the first part of the proposal package seen by agency officials and very possibly could be the only part of the package that is carefully reviewed before the decision is made to consider the project any further. 

The applicant must select a fundable project which can be supported in view of the local need. Alternatives, in the absence of Federal support, should be pointed out. The influence of the project both during and after the project period should be explained. 

The consequences of the project as a result of funding should be highlighted. If applying as an individual summarize the needs that would be met by obtaining a Grant. 

2. Introduction: Presenting a Credible Applicant or Organization 

You should gather data about yourself, your organization or business from all available sources. If an organization, most proposals require a description of an applicant's organization to describe its past and present operations. Some features to consider are: 

* A brief biography of board members and key staff members or yourself if applying as an individual. 
* The organization's goals, philosophy, track record with other grantors, and any success stories on your own goals, success stories. 
* The data should be relevant to the goals of the Government grantor agency and should establish the applicant's credibility or detail an individual need that 
a Government agency or Foundation is equipped to aid. Remember different Foundations offer Grants for different purposes. 

3. The Problem Statement: Stating the Purpose at Hand 

The problem statement (or needs) is a key element of a proposal that makes a clear, concise, and well supported statement of the problem to be addressed. The best way to collect information about the problem is to conduct and document both a formal and informal needs for a program in the target or service area. The information provided should be both factual and directly related to the problem addressed by the proposal. 

Areas to document are: 

The purpose for developing the proposal or need. 
The beneficiaries -who are they and how will they benefit. 
The social and economic costs to be affected. (i.e. reduced need for government social agencies. 
The nature of the problem (provide as much hard evidence as possible). 
How you or the applicant organization came to realize the problem exists, and what is currently being done about the problem. The remaining alternative available when funding has been exhausted. Explain what will happen to the project and the impending implications. 
Most importantly, the specific manner through which problems might be solved. Review the resources needed, considering how they will be used and to what end. 

There is a considerable body of literature on the exact assessment techniques to be used. Any local, regional, or State government planning office, or local university offering course work in planning and evaluation techniques should be able to provide excellent background references. Types of data that may be collected include: historical, geographic, quantitative, factual, statistical, and philosophical information, as well as studies completed by colleges, and literature searches from public or university libraries. Local colleges or universities which have a department or section related to the proposal topic may help determine if there is interest in developing a student or faculty project to conduct a needs assessment. It may be helpful to include examples of the findings for highlighting in the proposal. 

4. Project Objectives: Goals and Desired Outcom

Program objectives refer to specific activities in a proposal. It is necessary to identify all objectives related to the goals to be reached, and the methods to be employed to achieve the stated objectives. Consider quantities or things measurable and refer to a problem statement and the outcome of proposed activities when developing a well-stated objective. The figures used should be verifiable. Remember, if the proposal is funded, the stated objectives will probably be used to evaluate program progress, so be realistic. There is literature available to help identify and write program objectives. 

5. Program Methods and Program Design: A Plan of Action 

The program design refers to how the project is expected to work and solve the stated problem. Sketch out the following: 

The activities to occur along with the related resources and staff needed to operate the project (inputs). 

A flow chart of the organizational features of the project. Describe how the parts interrelate, where personnel will be needed, and what they are expected to do. Identify the kinds of facilities, transportation, and support services required. 

Explain what will be achieved through 1 and 2 above (outputs); i.e. plan for measurable results. Project staff may be required to produce evidence of program performances through an examination of stated objectives during either a site visit by the Federal grantor agency and or Grant reviews which may involve peer review committees. 

It may be useful to devise a diagram of the program design. For example, draw a three column block. Each column is headed by one of the parts (inputs, throughputs and outputs), and on the left (next to the first column) specific programs features should be identified (i.e. implementation, staffing, procurement, and systems development). In the grid, specify something about the program design, for example assume the first column is labeled inputs and the first row is labeled staff. On the grid one might specify under inputs five nurses to operate a child care unit. The throughput might be to maintain charts, counsel the children, and set up a daily routine; outputs might be to discharge 25 healthy children per week. This type of procedure will help to conceptualize both the scope and detail of the project. 

Wherever, possible, justify in the narrative the course of action taken. The most economical method should be used that does not compromise or sacrifice project quality. The financial expenses associated with performance of the project will later become points of negotiation with the Federal program staff. If everything is not carefully justified in writing in the proposal, after negotiations with the Federal grantor agencies, the approved project may resemble less of the original concept. Carefully consider the pressures of the proposed implementation, that is, the time and money needed to acquire each part of the plan. A Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) chart could be useful and supportive in justifying some proposals. 

Highlight the innovative features of the proposal which could be considered distinct from other proposals under considerations. 

Whenever possible, use appendices to provide details, supplementary data, references, and information requiring in-depth analysis. These types of data, although supportive of the proposal, if included in the body of the design, could detract from its readability. Appendices provide the proposal reader 
with immediate access to details if and when clarification of an idea, sequence or conclusion is required. Time tables, work plans, schedules, activities, methodologies, legal papers, personal vitae, letters of support, and endorse- ments are examples of appendices. 

6. Evaluation: Product and Process Analysis 

The evaluation component is two-fold: (1) product evaluation; and (2) process evaluation. 
Product evaluation addresses results that can be attributed to the project, as well as the extent to which the project has satisfied its desired objectives. Process evaluation addresses how the project was conducted, in terms of consistency with the stated plan of action and the effectiveness of the various activities within the plan. 

Most Federal agencies now require some form of program evaluation among grantees. The requirement of the proposed project should be explored carefully. Evaluations may be conducted by an internal staff member, an evaluation firm or both. The applicant should state the amount of time needed to evaluate, how the feedback will be distributed among the proposed staff, and a schedule for review and comment for this type of communication. Evaluation designs may start at the beginning, middle or end of a project, but the applicant should specify a start-up time. It is practical to submit an evaluation design at the start of a project for two reasons: 

Convincing evaluations require the collection of appropriate data before and during program operations; and, if the evaluation design cannot be prepared at the outset then a critical review of the program design may be advisable. 

Even if the evaluation design has to be revised as the project progresses, it is much easier and cheaper to modify a good design. If the problem is not well defined and carefully analyzed for cause and effect relationships then a good evaluation design may be difficult to achieve. Sometimes a pilot study is needed to begin the identification of facts and relationships. Often a thorough literature search may be sufficient. 

Evaluation requires both coordination and agreement among program decision makers (if known). Above all the Federal grantor agency's requirements should be highlighted in the evaluation design. Also, Federal grantor agencies may require specific evaluation techniques such as designated date formats (an existing information collection system) or they may offer financial inducements for voluntary participation in a national evaluation study. The applicant should ask specifically about these points. Also consult the Criteria For Selecting Proposals section of the Catalog program description to determine the exact evaluation methods to be required for the program if funded. 

7.Future Funding: Long- Term Project Planning 

Describe a plan for continuation beyond the Grant period, and/or the availability of other resources necessary .to implement the Grant. Discuss maintenance and future program funding if program is for construction activity. Account for other needed expenditures if program includes purchase of equipment. 

8. The Proposal Budget: Planning the Budget 

Funding levels in Federal assistance programs change yearly. It is useful to review the appropriations over the past several years to try to project future funding levels (see Financial Information section of the Catalog program description). 

However, it is safer to never anticipate that the income from the Grant will be the sole support for the project. This consideration should be given to the overall budget requirements, and in particular, to budget line items most subject to inflationary pressures. Restraint is important in determining inflationary cost projections (avoid padding budget line items), but attempt to anticipate possible future increases. 

Some vulnerable budget areas are: utilities, rental of buildings and equipment, salary increases, food, telephones, insurance, and transportation. Budget adjustments are sometime made after the Grant award, but this can be a lengthy process. Be certain the implementation, continuation and phase-down costs can be met. Consider costs associated with leases, evaluation systems, hard/soft match requirements, audits, development, implementation and maintenance of information and accounting systems and other long-term financial commitments. 

A well-prepared budget justifies all expenses and is consistent with the proposal narrative. Some areas in need of an evaluation for consistency are: (1) the salaries in the proposal in relation to those of the applicant organization should be similar; (2) if new staff persons are being hired, additional space and equipment should be considered, as necessary; (3) if the budget calls for an equipment purchases, it should be the type allowed by the grantor agency; (4) if additional space is rented, the increase in insurance should be supported; (5) if an indirect cost rate applies to the proposal, the division between direct and indirect costs should not be in conflict, and the aggregate budget totals should refer directly to the approved formula; and (6) if matching costs are required, the contributions to the matching fund should be taken out of the budget unless otherwise specified in the application instructions. . 

While these are the key elements of a proposal you will write, get as much help as you need depending on the size of the project. Obtain as much input from area experts as you need before writing the proposal. They might have excellent suggestions and could playa role in helping you to complete the various activities associated with accomplishing your stated objectives. They might even be helpful in writing certain aspects of the proposal, especially the details of the work and tasks necessary to meet your objectives. 

Do a first draft. Then -get feedback! Give it to people who have helped you, or whom you trust"to be properly judgmental about it. The best writing is done during the rewriting phase, so it's important to have people take a critical look at your first draft. You're too close to be thoroughly objective. That's O.K. ! Just know that you should get others to help you analyze your initial work in preparation for a second draft. 

Go through the same process with your second draft. This should be shorter and less feedback should come in if you elicited enough comments the first time around. 

Make any changes necessary and get it to final draft form. Then have it proofread and bound into a booklet for submission purposes. You're ready to submit! 

Remember that the Grant proposal should be written after you've obtained the agency's application and Grant guideline forms or after the private foundation has advised you of their requirements. There are many places to contact for potential grant information, and your decision should be closely allied with your skills and interests. 


The letter of appeal is just a summarized version of the proposal. If a small amount of money (under $2,500) is requested a letter of appeal will usually suffice. For a large sum of money ($2,500 and over) send both. Send a proposal also if the foundation or government agency requests it. 

Your letter of appeal should be typed or printed neatly. It accompanies the Grant proposal and covers some of the same points. The main difference is the length. Your letter of appeal should be brief and to the point. Lengthy, unorganized letters usually go to the bottom of the pile. Your letter of appeal should be composed in such a way so as to grab the attention of the reader. It is your foot in the door and you want to make an impression. The letter of appeal outlines your program/project in a clear unambiguous and a concise way. the following would be included in your letter of appeal. 

1 .The Proposal 
2. A statement of the need 
3. How the need will be met 4. Evidence of the need 
5. The total cost of the proposal 
6. The amount requested of the foundation 
7. A complete list of other supporters and proposed supporters 
8. The duration of the program/project 
9. Staff capabilities 
10. Potential future funding 
11. A description of the individual, corporation or organization. 

a. How the organization began 

b. How long has it existed 
c. Significant accomplishments. 
d. Support received from other organization 

Once completed your Grant proposal and letter of appeal should be mailed or courier to one or more foundations. Be sure to mark on your envelope "Grant Request". 


The Foundation Center Cooperating Collections 

An important part of your Grant search should be a visit to The Foundation Center Cooperating Collections. Now in its 40th year the Free Funding Information Centers have been established by foundations to provide information on Foundations and Corporate giving. There are libraries, community foundations and other nonprofit agencies that provide a core collection of the Foundation Center's publications. These publications containing thousands of sources of Free Grant Money are as follows: 

The Foundation Directory 1 and 2, and Supplement 
The Foundation 1000 
Foundation Fundamentals Foundation Giving 
The Foundation Grants Index Quarterly Foundation Grants to Individuals 
Guide to U. S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors 

The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing 
The Literature of the Nonprofit Sector National Directory of Corporate Giving National Directory of Grant Making Public Charities 
User-friendly Guide 

Participants in the Foundation Center's Cooperating Collections network are libraries or nonprofit information centers that provide fund raising information and other funding-related technical assistance in their communities. Cooperating Collections agree to provide free public access to a basic collection of Foundation Center publications during a regular schedule of hours, offering free funding research guidance to all visitors. Many also provide a variety of services for local nonprofit organizations, using staff or volunteers to prepare special materials, organize workshops, or conduct orientations. 

As with all grant seeking, the more time you spend and the earlier you begin, the better the chances of securing a Grant. 

There are four major types of resources at the Foundation Center that can help you examine available Grants or locate potential donors by subject. 

Directories of Foundations. These Directories concentrate on information about the funders themselves rather than their Grants. For example, The Foundation Directory (covering Foundations with assets of $2 million or more or annual giving of $200,000 or more) and The Foundation Directory Part 2 (covering Foundations with total annual giving of $50,000 to $200,000) describe areas of funding interest. An extensive subject index is included in each. Other Directories may limit information to Grant- 
makers who fund in a particular city, state, or region. Some may have subject indexing. 

Specialized Funding Directories. Foundations are often listed in Directories that cover a particular subject field, population group, or type of support. The Foundation Center's National Guide to Funding in Arts and Culture, Corporate Resource Consultants' National Directory of Philanthropy for Native Americans, and Oryx Press' Directory of Research Grants are all examples of specialized funding directories. The Foundation Center publishes a number of directories that focus on the major funders in specific subject areas. These subject directories, called the National Guide series, combine descriptive information about the Foundation with sample grant records. They also include introductions, indexes, and specialized bibliographies. 

Indexes of Recent Grants. The Foundation Grants Index lists Grants of $10,000 or more awarded by more than 950 Foundations, including the 300 largest. These Foundations account for more than half of all Grant dollars awarded. The book is organized by broad subjects; indexes enable you to access Grants by subject, recipient, and geographic area. Entries list the date, amount, and purpose of the 

Grant. If you prefer to scan Grants in a specific subject area, this information is also available 'in the' Center's Grant Guides series, which consists of approximately 30 subject guides,. An example is Grants for the Physically and Mentally Disabled. 

Materials Supplied by Funders Themselves. This material enables you to look for annual reports, press releases, application guidelines, and IRS returns -all useful sources of information. 


The Foundation Center 8th Floor 79th Fifth Avenue New York, NY 1 0003 (212) 620-4230 

The Foundation Center 312 Sutter St., Am. 312 San Francisco, CA 94108 ( 415) 397 -0902 

The Foundation Center 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 (202) 331-1400 

The Foundation Center Kent H. Smith Library 1422 Euclid, Suite 1356 Cleveland, OH 44115 (216) 861-1933 

The Foundation Center Suite 150, Grant Lobby Hurt Bldg., 50 Hunt Plaza Atlanta, GA 30303 ( 404) 880-0094 

The Foundation Center's comprehensive database of Grantmakers and their associated Grants may now be accessed in a fully searchable CD-ROM format,. FC Search contains the Center's entire universe of nearly 45,000 Grantmaker records, including all known active Foundations and Corporate giving programs in the United States. It also includes nearly 200,000 recent Grant awards of the largest Foundations and the names of over 183,000 trustees, officers, and donors which can be quickly linked to their Foundation affiliations. 

Grantseekers and other researchers may select multiple criteria and create customized prospect lists which can be printed or saved. Basic or Advanced search modes and special search options enable users to make searches as broad or as specific as required. Up to 20 different criteria may be selected: 

· grantmaker name 
· grantmaker type 
· grantmaker city 
· grantmaker state 
· geographic focus
· fields of interest 
· types of support 
· total assets 
· total giving 
· trustees, officers, 
· and donors 
· corporate name 
· corporate location * recipient name * recipient city 
· recipient state * recipient type * subject 
· grant amount * year grant authorized 
· text search field 

To further aid you in your Grant search this Guide has listed names and addresses of Foundation Centers. Click Here To View Them.  Private Foundation Websites



  • What is the correct name of the Foundation, its address and telephone number? 
  • Name, title, telephone number and address of primary contact person. Is this also the person to whom all Grant requests should be submitted? 
  • Names (and, if possible, backgrounds) of donors, trustees and officers. 
  • Names and titles of staff (if any) and their backgrounds. 
  • Do they have a local or regional representative with whom you may talk? What role does this person play in the selection process? 
    Any geographic restrictions on their Grants? 
  • What kinds of organizations are eligible to apply? Individuals? 
  • Primary stated purposes of the Foundation. 
  • Subject areas in which they make awards. 
  • Program categories and current priorities 
  • Recent Grants, including amounts 
  • What type of awards do they seem to prefer (i.e. challenge, seed money)? 
  • What types of Grants or purposes will they not support? 
  • What is the amount of their assets? In the most recent year that you can verify, how much did they pay out for Grants? How much of this was for new, rather than continuation, awards? 
  • Is there a maximum or minimum amount on their Grants? 
  • What is the average-sized Grant and typical range of awards? 
  • Will they consider all of the costs of a project or only a specified percentage? 
  • Do they cover indirect costs? If not, will they pay for direct costs of some overhead functions in a project application? 
  • Do they have selection criteria and, if so, what are they? 
  • What is their application process? Deadlines? If none, do they operate on a calendar year? 
  • Do they have an application form? Instructions to applicants on what to submit? What attachments do they want? 
  • Do they want a letter of inquiry prior to receiving a proposal? 
  • What is their selection process? How far in advance should you submit a proposal before you can expect a decision? 
  • Do they use non-staff reviewers? If so, is it possible for you to get their names and affiliation? 
  • What is their policy on renewal? Do they indicate any definite limit on how many years they will support an organization or project? 
  • Will they assist in funding a a project that is also receiving federal or other public monies? 

If you need further assistance in writing your grant proposal than what is provided here, try one of these links; 

A Proposal Writing Short Course

Published by The Foundation Center, this site offers excellent tips and strategies for grant writing. http://www.fdncenter.org/onlib/shortcourse/prop1.html.

Proposal Writing Tips

Written by the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Office of Grants, this document offers useful information in getting started and developing the proposal concept. http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/grants/tips.html.

Polaris Grants Central

This site provides, among other information pertaining to grants, proposal writing guidance. http://www.polarisgrantscentral.net/tips.html.

Assistance in Developing Proposals

This site covers strategies in the proposal-writing process. It is an excellent how-to guide that defines proposal structure. http://www.montclair.edu/pages/ORSP/strategy.htm.


Available Grant Samples

There are literally tens of thousands of grant programs available in the Continental US today. We have included examples of some of the programs available below. These programs represent a very small sample of the programs available and are presented only to "wet your appetite".

We urge you to review ALL sections of the American Grant Provider Directory to locate all grant programs applicable to your need and cause before applying for any grant money. You may qualify for grant money from more than one source for more than one cause. So it's very important to review all sections on this website.

Up to $15,000 for a Home Downpayment

There is a little known program called the Ameridream program that issues grants to families seeking to purchase a new or existing home. The program is open to first-time home seekers and families who currently own a home and are looking to purchase another homes. Everyone is eligible to apply.

Homes can be valued up to $300,700 and this institution may grant to 5% (or more) of the total price. That's up to $15,000! This program helps over 5,000 families buy homes each month.

There are some requirements. The primary requirement states your home must be purchased through the Ameridream network of builders, sellers or agents.

To learn more about the downpayment gift program, please contact the Ameridream Institution:

18130 Montgomery Village Ave.,
Suite 300,
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

(301) 977-9133


Up to $10,000 to find a Better Job

The US Government would like to educate you. How would you like to get $10,000 to upgrade your skills and find a better job? Why would the US Government want to invest in you? Because you are an investment....you'll pay a tax dividend for many years to come.

For more information, please visit the following....

US Department of Labor
Employment and Training Division<


Up to $35,000 to Study Overseas

There is another little known scholarship program called the Fulbright grant program. This program issues grants to cover all educational, living and transpotational expenses to study in many different countries around the world.

The program administrators are partial to certain fields of study. To check to see if this program is right for you, please contact....

Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

(212) 883-8200


Up to $15,000.00 to pay for child care

You can get up to $15,000 to fund your daycare expenses through Child Care and Development Block Grants. The requirements for this program vary from state to state. To see if you qualify in one of the registered Day Care centers, please contact....

National Child Care Information Center
243 Church St., NW
Vienna, VA 22180

(800) 616-2242


Up to $7,000 to fix up your Home

Ever hear of the Housing Preservation Grants Program? This neat little program grants money to homeowners, renters and real estate owners (the latter must promise to rent to low income families).

For more information on this program, please contact your Local Rural Development Office or contact:

Office of Multi-Family Housing,
US Department of Agriculture
Washington, DC 20250

(202) 720-1600


Up to $5,000 to Write a Grant Proposal

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Organizations have a special program in some states that assist businesses preparing SBIR/STTR grant proposals. The program allows disbursements of up to $5,000 to individuals who prepare a quality grant proposal. Check your local SBIR office (a complete state listing is provided in the American Grant Provider Directory) for more information.

Up to $500,000 To Start Or Expand Your Business

There are thousand of grant programs offered through private foundations, states and the federal government tasked with responsibility of assisting small business create or expand existing business. Politicians understand that the best way to generate jobs is to stimulate small business. Small Business is the fastest growing sector of the US economy. As small business initiates, grows and expands jobs are created.

Please review all the sections of the American Grant Provider Directory for more information on Grants.




Current Date

Contact's Name Contact's Title Name of Organization Address City, State Zip

RE: Name of Government Grant. Foundation Grant. Etc,

Dear Sir/Madam:

It has been brought to my attention that I may qualify for participation in your (Grant/Foundation/etc.) program for a (Business/Grant /Scholarship /etc.).

My (Business Interest / Business Product or Service / Educational Interests / etc.) are…

I would greatly appreciate receiving information regarding your program's eligibility requirements, and the necessary application form.

If you have knowledge of similar programs, which may be beneficial, I would appreciate that information as well.

Thank you for your time and cooperation. I look forward to receiving your information.

Sincerely yours,

Your Name

Your Business Name (if applicable)

Your Home or Business