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Gathering Background Information
Components of a Proposal
The Executive Summary
The Statement of Need
The Project Description
The Budget
Organizational Information
Letter Proposal
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Proposal Writing Short Course


Every proposal should have a concluding paragraph or two. This is a good place to call attention to the future, after the grant is completed. If appropriate, you should outline some of the follow-up activities that might be undertaken to begin to prepare your funder for your next request. Alternatively, you should state how the project might carry on without further grant support.

This section is also the place to make a final appeal for your project. Briefly reiterate what your nonprofit wants to do and why it is important. Underscore why your agency needs funding to accomplish it. Don't be afraid at this stage to use a bit of emotion to solidify your case.

What Happens Next?

Submitting your proposal is nowhere near the end of your involvement in the grantseeking process. Grant review procedures vary widely, and the decision-making process can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months or more. During the review process, the funder may ask for additional information either directly from you or from outside consultants or professional references. Invariably, this is a difficult time for the grantseeker. You need to be patient but persistent. Some grantmakers outline their review procedures in annual reports or application guidelines. If you are unclear about the process, don't hesitate to ask.

If your hard work results in a grant, take a few moments to acknowledge the funder's support with a letter of thanks. You also need to find out whether the funder has specific forms, procedures, and deadlines for reporting on the progress of your project. Clarifying your responsibilities as a grantee at the outset, particularly with respect to financial reporting, will prevent misunderstandings and more serious problems later.

Nor is rejection necessarily the end of the process. If you're unsure why your proposal was turned down, ask. Did the funder need additional information? Would they be interested in considering the proposal at a future date? Now might also be the time to begin cultivation of a prospective funder. Put them on your mailing list so that they can become further acquainted with your organization. Remember, there's always next year.

This short course in proposal writing was adapted from The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing, 6th ed. (New York: The Foundation Center, 2012), by Jane C. Geever.

The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing and other resources on the subject are available for free use in Foundation Center libraries and Funding Information Network locations.

See also our Skill page on on "Proposal Writing."

If you're ready to learn more, Foundation Center offers an in-depth self-paced eLearning course to help you learn to write grant proposals:

Foundation Center also offers a three-day immersive experience, Proposal Writing Boot Camp, as well as a one-day Proposal Writing Workshop at various locations throughout the country. We also offer a free Introduction to Proposal Writing in-person or via live webinar.
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