The Best List of Sample Nonprofit Grant Proposals

We all need some inspiration when developing a new idea or a new project. Writing a grant proposal is no different. Whether you are an experienced grant writer or just starting out, sometimes it is helpful to see what a successful grant proposal submission might look like.

We have put together the best list of sample nonprofit grant proposals to help you as you build your nonprofit grant portfolio.

Examples of Effective Grant Proposals

It’s helpful to see what a grant proposal looks like depending on the type of funding or industry it is written for. As you write more proposals, you may find that your industry has some consistency in the information requested and a preferred proposal format.

Below are sample nonprofit grant proposal PDFs for some of the most common funding request areas.

Youth Program Funding Grant Proposal Example

Community Initiatives Fund: this sample grant is a great resource as it was written to to help grant writers know what a successful proposal should look like. The sample document is fictional, however, it is filled in to model a successful grant proposal and there are digital sticky notes calling out tips and suggestions in each section.

Education Grant Proposal Example

Kurzweil Education Systems: similar to the Community Initiatives Fund above, this sample grant proposal pdf gives an outline of a fictional successful grant proposal with additional notes and best practices included. Each section of the grant proposal includes an overview of how to approach that section followed by a sample of what that could look like. The example is a Middle School requesting to build a reading intervention program.

Science Grant Proposal Example

William T Grant Foundation: this document showcased five successful applications for research relating to mentoring minority youth. These proposals were all successful in receiving funding, so these examples show exactly what the foundation has looked for in the past. Notable in this document is the inclusion of five separate submissions that have all been awarded under the same funding. Each approach the application differently. It is worth scanning these applications to see a few ways to answer the application questions and what each applicant found useful to include.

Arts Grant Proposal Example

Arts Research Institute: this landing page provides links to three sample PDFs that show a successful application in each funding category offered: collaborative, major, and minor grants. This is a great resource that offers a look at how a grant maker differentiates funding requests for multiple grants using the same application. 
If you would like even more sample nonprofit grant proposal PDFs, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has compiled a list of sample grants across a number of industries as well.

Characteristics of Successful Grants

We have shown you a number of examples of effective grant proposals. Looking through these grant proposals you may pick up on some similarities, even if the proposals are intended for different purposes.

It is important to not just read through sample nonprofit grant proposals. You should also start thinking about what makes those proposals effective. Here is a list summarizing some of those prevailing characteristics in successful grant proposals:

Cohesion and clarity: all of the successful grant proposals connect across the sections of the grant and maintain a clear focus. The funding requests in the narrative sections match budget sections. The outcomes align with the problem statement. It is common to have these pieces seem disjointed or unconnected which can create a lack of clarity around your funding request.

Stay on topic: while you might have a really great, broad idea bank for your nonprofit, it is critical that you write to meet the funding goals of the grant maker. Successful grant proposals pay attention to the questions asked.

Grammar and writing: successful grant proposals have correct grammar and writing. Do not skip proofreading and editing.

Completion: ensure you have completed and included all required sections and documents for your grant proposal. Not addressing application questions or sections, or failing to include necessary auxiliary documentation, can result in your application being removed from consideration.

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Grant Writing Tips for Success 

In addition to more general characteristics of successful grants, there are some key tips for where to focus your efforts and how to write each section of a grant proposal.

Read on for what makes a grant proposal successful by looking at some of the primary sections of a grant proposal. This list will help you write strategically as you compose your grant proposal.

1. Title

When you scroll through the news or browse a library for books, your first impression is often a title. The title of an article is what draws you in to read the body of the story. The title of a book can either make you explore deeper or have you pass by to the next option.

Grant proposals need a strong title.

The best strategy for writing a strong grant proposal title is to keep it short and intentional. You should include keywords that show your proposal is aimed at the funding purpose. It is also a good strategy to use active words that articulate your anticipated outcomes. Words that show action typically end in -ing. Having action words point to an outcome in a short and readable title is a great way to have your proposal be noticed.

2. Cover Letter

Not all grant proposal requests will require or accept a cover letter. Be sure to understand the submission requirements for each grant. However, where a cover letter is an option, it is one of the best ways to present your proposal. A stand-out cover letter is sure to capture the attention of the grant proposal review committee.

While the cover letter will be what the reviewers read first, it is often best to write your letter after you have a completed proposal. This way, you can capture the most important pieces of information from your proposal. The cover letter is not a summary of your proposal; rather, it is an opportunity to create familiarity with your nonprofit and showcase the highlights of your proposal.

Your cover letter should have a format that includes addressing the correct point of contact for the grant, giving an overview of who you are as an organization, and briefly introducing your project.

To read more and see sample cover letters, check out our blog post on how to write grant proposal cover letters.

3. Mission Statement

An often overlooked section in grant proposals is the importance of your nonprofit’s mission statement. If you do not have a mission statement for your organization, do not attempt to make one up for the purpose of your grant. Use the grant process as an opportunity to authentically develop your mission statement.

Grant funders want to see that your mission aligns with their own mission and intent for the grant funding. When you share your mission statement in a grant proposal, find ways to articulate how your mission aligns with theirs.

4. Executive Summary

A key tip in the cover letter was to not summarize your proposal. That is the executive summary. The executive summary of a grant proposal is a crucial section that often gets reviewed in the screening process.

Reviewers will read the executive summary as a way to quickly gauge whether your proposal will align with the goals of the funding. You need to be concise as well as persuasive. You have a short space to provide a clear and compelling overview of your funding proposal. Leave the verbose details for the other sections.

If you want to learn more about writing an executive summary, read our post on executive summaries and how to write them for grants.

5. Needs Statement

Your intent in writing a nonprofit grant proposal is to secure funding for a project or your operations. It is critical to successfully make the case that you need the grant funding. Your needs statement should be direct and compelling.

When writing your needs statement try to be as specific as possible. Think of trying to answer the following questions when making your case:

  • What is the problem your project will solve?
  • What are the current gaps in funding for you to solve your problem?
  • What data can you include that provides objective justification for the problem and the potential solution your project provides?
  • How can you connect to the reader? How can you craft your proposal so the reader takes on your plight?

We also wrote a blog post that digs deeper into how to write a needs statement.

6. Sustainability

One thing that stands out to grant reviewers is your long term plan for your project. Grant funding is often short term in nature. Grant reviewers want to see what you have done and plan to do to make your project sustainable when grant funding may no longer be available.

While your project may rely almost entirely on the grant funds you are requesting, you should still consider what aspects of the project you will prioritize to maintain regardless of grant funding. Your commitment to the project will build confidence in your success; grant makers want to feel assured that the outcomes promised by awardees will be realized.

Additional Grant Writing Resources

Having sample grant proposals to use as templates is helpful, but these sample resources are not the only way to build your confidence to write a successful proposal. Grant writers should spend time making the sections, key tips, and best practices of grant writing second nature. There are many resources available to help you grow your understanding of nonprofit grant writing.

Blogs

Just like you are learning from this post, we write regular blog posts to help you learn the process of grant writing. You can bookmark this very blog to catch all of our posts on grant writing.

In the case where you’d like to get personalized grant recommendations for your nonprofit, you can also start a 14-day trial of Instrumentl’s institutional fundraising platform.

Podcasts

We offered a list of the best grant writing podcasts. Consider listening to a podcast that informs on grant writing a few days a week instead of your regular music choices. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to understand all of the components of grant writing by hearing similar topics and tricks regularly.

If you want to jump into a podcast without browsing our complete list, we recommend you start with Grant Writing & Funding.

Workshops

Blogs and podcasts offer ongoing, quick, specific points of support for your learning. It is also worth looking into workshops as a way to engage in professional development.

Instrumentl offers a number of grant writing classes that should meet your needs across a number of topics relating to learning about the grant writing process.

The American Grant Writers’ Association also offers a number of courses for grant writers.

Government and Foundation Websites

Keep in mind that the government agencies and foundations providing grant opportunities want to have strong, successful applicants. They want to fund impactful programs.

To that end, visit websites of government, foundation, and other nonprofit grantmaking organizations as they may post information on grant writing best practices. A great resource for grant writers is on Youth.gov. They have compiled pdf resources to help grant writers tackle the most common sections of a grant proposal.

Networking

There is something uniquely beneficial about having people you can ask questions. Find a network of grant writers or nonprofit leaders that you can lean on to support your work. A good network will provide you with a diverse group of people that have “done it before.”

Wrapping Things Up: The Best List of Sample Nonprofit Grant Proposals

Writing a successful nonprofit grant proposal can be challenging. It is helpful to have a guide to follow, or an example of success to model your efforts after. In this article, we compiled a list of sample nonprofit PDFs you can access to do just that!

In addition to providing sample nonprofit grant proposals, we also outlined what makes these grants successful and tips for writing your own grant proposals. 
For more grant resources, tools, and support, try Instrumentl for 14-days free.

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