Proposal Writing Tips

It is important to remember some helpful guidelines whenever you are writing a grant proposal. Without these organizational aides, the process of writing about a complex project can become frustrating and burdensome, leading to a proposal that is as difficult to read and evaluate as it was to write it.

Grant Writing Tips

  • Carefully read the program guidelines, usually available on the funder's website, and take note of both the stated and implied criteria that the funder looks for in a worthy proposal. Find all aspects of your project that are reasonably compatible with the funder's priorities and use them to create a theme.
  • Outline what is overtly required by the guidelines. Follow this outline to write the text, using distinguishable headers and sub-headers to clarify the various sections of the outline. Try to keep each section to a reasonable length, appropriate to its subject's magnitude in respect to the entire proposal.
  • For proposals that do not require that you follow a strict organization dictated by the guidelines, follow this proposal summary:

I. Introduction
II. Problem Statement
III. Program Goals and Objectives
IV. Methods
V. Evaluation
VI. Future Funding
VII. Budget
VIII. Appendix
© Grantsmanship Center

  • Use a positive voice throughout the text. Impart that you are convinced that the project will be successful in fulfilling the funder's priorities. Use confident words such as "would" instead of "will."
  • Use simple language except when technical terms are necessary. Be concise and brief.
  • Provide appropriate detail within each line item of your budget. For example, if you are budgeting $4,000 for student workers, document the number of students and amount each will be paid: Student Workers: 4 X $1,000 = $4,000. Explain every line item listed in your budget in a short budget narrative.

Proposal Writing Links

The Foundation Center's Short Course On Proposal Writing:

Grant Writing Tips from the National Science Foundation:

Grant Writing Tip Sheets from the National Institutes of Health: