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What Should a Grant Proposal Include?

Person writing in notebook
Writing a business proposal or applying for a grant can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. You may wonder what information you should include, what to leave out and how to format your submission. Follow these tips to put together a compelling business proposal to apply for a grant.

1. Be Clear and Concise

Flabby grant proposals won’t get you anywhere. You want writing that gets right to the point and explains to the reader why you deserve the money you desire. Your answers should address the topic and nothing else. Don’t tell wandering anecdotes or throw in something completely unrelated to your subject.

In addition to keeping your response focused on the issue at hand, make sure your writing is easy to understand. Most grants have a strict word limit for the application, and you need to get as much out of that limit as possible. Cut out any jargon or flowery language, and stick largely to facts and smaller words. This strategy will allow you to convey your point without eating up your word count.

2. Make a Connection Through Your Words

Concise writing doesn’t have to be dry. While you don’t want to include any purple prose, you should use your words to paint a picture of the human face of your organization. People connect to other people. They’re moved by relationships, and that should be what you sell in your grant proposal. Instead of saying how a grant could increase your bottom line, concentrate on the ways it would assist others and foster happiness or goodwill.

3. Show, Don’t Tell

Don’t just say that you’re the best at what you do. Tell a story that illustrates this fact. You want your reader to learn about your organization and feel vested in its success so that you can convince them to award you the money. Think of your grant as a sales pitch. You may want to feature:

  • Ways that you’ve impacted the community
  • Testimonials from satisfied clients
  • Stories that feature your problem-solving skills

4. Refer Back to Your Business Plan

Every successful company has a business plan that guides its direction. This plan should include your target market, revenue goals, strengths and weaknesses and more. Use this plan to guide your grant application. You want to emphasize the things most important to you and be sure to touch on the aspects that set your business apart from others — all of which should be covered in your business plan.

5. Lay out a Plan for the Money

If you apply for a grant, you should know exactly how you plan to use that money. An organization won’t award money to a business that seems uncertain about where the cash influx will go. That’s a waste of their time. If you outline a specific vision for how you’ll use the funds, it will give you a better chance of receiving them. Account for every penny in your proposal.

6. Follow the Guidelines Exactly

Grant programs offer guidelines for a reason. Resist the urge to get creative and send in your own interpretation of what the organization wants. Instead, stick closely to the request, and address every section thoroughly. Doing so shows respect for the reader’s time and preferences.

Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation offers a number of grant opportunities and other incentives for businesses in Cumberland County, such as tourism grants for businesses attracting visitors to the area and improving their experience. Get in touch with us today to learn more about these grants, figure out which one suits your needs and get the assistance you need to apply.

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