Successful Grant Proposal Examples: The Ultimate List [in 2022]
Writing grant proposals can be stressful process for many organizations. However, it's also an exciting time for your nonprofit to secure the funds needed to deliver or expand your services.
In this article, we'll dig into successful grant proposal examples to show how you can start winning grant funding for your organization.
By the time you finish reading this, you'll understand the characteristics of successful proposals, examples of grant proposals in a variety of program areas, and know exactly where you can find more sample grant proposals for nonprofit organizations.
Ready? Let's dig in!
Why Should You Find Successful Grant Proposal Examples?
Whether you are a seasoned grant writer or are preparing your first proposal ever, grant writing can be an intimidating endeavor. Grant writing is like any skill in that if you apply yourself, practice, and practice some more, you are sure to increase your ability to write compelling proposals.
Successful grant proposals not only convey the great idea you have for your organization but convince others to get excited about the future you envision. Many follow similar structures and developing a process that works best for your writing style can help make the task of preparing proposals much easier.
In addition to showing what to and not to do, finding successful grant proposals can help you see significant trends and structures that can help you develop your grant writing capabilities.
What Characteristics Make a Grant Proposal Successful?
No two grant proposals are the same. Nor should they be. Every organization is unique, as is every funding opportunity. That being said, there are some shared characteristics that most successful proposals contain.
1. Successful grant proposals have a clear focus.
Your first step when searching for funds is to clearly understand why you need those funds and what they will accomplish. Funders want to invest in programs they believe will be successful and impactful.
In your proposals, you want to instill confidence in your organization's commitment to the issue, dedication to the communities you serve, and capacity to fulfill the proposed grant activities.
Some questions that you may want to consider include:
- Are you looking for funds to establish a new program, launch a pilot project, or expand an existing program?
- Will your proposed program be finished in a year, or will it take multiple years to achieve your goal?
- Who is involved in your program, and who will benefit from its success?
- What problem will the proposed program address, and how is that solution unique?
- What are the specific, tangible goals that you hope to accomplish with the potential grant award?
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2. Successful grant proposals are supported with relevant data.
Before starting your grant proposal, you want to take the time to do your research and make sure that your action plan is realistic and well-supported with data. By presenting yourself as capable and knowledgeable with reliable data, a thorough action plan, and a clear understanding of the subject matter.
It can also be beneficial to include data that your organization has collected to show program impacts and staff successes. Conduct regular analysis of program activities, grant deliverables, and collect success stories from clients and community members.
Some tips for when you collect your grant research:
- Make sure that you gather data from reputable sources. For example, at government sites such as Data.Census.gov, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for demographic data, or the U.S. Small Business, Explore Census Data Administration for industry analyses.
- Include diverse data. There may be some statistics where the numbers are enough to grab the reader's attention; other times, it may be helpful to have illustrations, graphs, or maps.
- In addition to quantitative data, qualitative data such as a story from an impacted community member may be extremely compelling.
- Make sure that the data you include is relevant. Throwing random numbers or statistics into the proposal does not make it impressive. All of the included data should directly support the main point of your proposal.
- You may find it useful to log important notes around what data you want to include in your grant proposal using a grant tracking tool such as Instrumentl.
By the way, check out our post on grant statistics after you finish this one!
3. Successful grant proposals are well-organized
Make sure to pay close attention to all of the requirements that a potential funder includes in their grant details and/or request for proposals (RFP). Your submission and all accompanying attachments, which may also include any graphs and illustrations, should adhere precisely to these guidelines.
Frequently the RFP or grant description will include directions for dividing and organizing your proposal. If, however, it does not, it is still best practice to break your proposal into clear sections with concise headings. You can include a table of contents with page numbers as well.
Standard grant proposal sections include:
- Title Page
- Proposal Summary: Also called the Executive Summary, this is a very brief statement (1-3 paragraphs) that explains your proposal and specifically states the amount of funding requested.
- Project Narrative: The bulk of your proposal, the Project Narrative, will do most of the work introducing your organization, the program, and describing your project.
- Organization History: Who you are, what you do, where and how you do it.
- Statement of the Problem: Background information on the problem and how it will be solved through the grant.
- Project Description: Detailed explanation of the program you intend to implement with the grant, including a detailed timeline.
- Budget and Budget Justification: A breakdown of the project resources into specific budget categories, the amount allocated to each category, and appropriate reasons for that breakdown.
4. Successful grant proposals are tailored to the funder.
In addition to finding the basic details on the funding opportunity and application guidelines, you should also look into the funder, their giving priorities, and history.
Funders are much more likely to select your organization among others if they clearly understand and empathize with your cause and recognize the impact your work has in the community.
For more details on establishing meaningful relationships with funders, check out our article on How to Approach and Build Grant Funder Relationships.
The first step in determining whether a funding opportunity is a good fit, do some research to ensure your organization's programs and financial needs meet the funder’s interests and resources.
A few questions to ask include:
- What are the organization’s values, written mission, and goals?
- How is what you want to do aligned with the overall mission of this agency?
- Do their giving priorities match with the vision of your proposed program?
- Will this grant cover the entire cost of your program, or will you need to find additional funds?
- Does the grant timeline meet the budget needs of your organization?
- Are there other considerations that might be useful for us to know in preparing your application?
5. Successful grant proposals are proofread!
If you have been in the grant writing game for any extended period of time, chances are that you’ve dealt with tight deadlines. Nonprofit staff often have a lot on their plates, and if you happen to find an attractive funding opportunity when there’s only a handful of days before its deadline, it may be difficult to walk away.
It is crucial to plan an appropriate amount of time to review and proofread your proposal. Grammar mistakes can make or break your submission and they are easy to fix.
General strategies for editing your proposal include:
- Use one of the many available grammar-checking software such as Grammarly or GrammarCheck.me. These online tools are often free to use and can help you quickly and accurately review your work.
- Ask other members of your team to peer-review the proposal. It is especially important to have staff working on or who are directly impacted by the program proposed to ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, these staff members have the most information about the program's implementation and can catch inconsistency or unrealistic promises in the proposal.
- It is also helpful to ask someone unfamiliar with your program and the subject matter discussed in the proposal. Sometimes the grant reviewer may not have the same level of knowledge you or your staff have about the subject matter, and so you want to ensure you stay away from overly-specific jargon and undefined acronyms.
- Read through it (again!). A final read-through, maybe out loud, after all the edits have been made, can help you catch overlooked mistakes or inconsistencies in the proposal.
The Ultimate List of Grant Proposal Examples
As stated early, every grant proposal is unique. We’ve collected a few grants that have all successfully won funds for various nonprofit organizations. The list is in no way exhaustive, but they cover common themes seen in the philanthropic sector.
Successful Educational Grant Proposals
Educational programming can be highly diverse in its delivery. Check out these examples of successful grant proposals for education to help you get started winning funds for your next educational program.
Kurzweil Educational Systems: In addition to this being a successful grant proposal, this example also includes detailed explanations of each section and provides useful guidelines that can help you frame your proposal.
Salem Education Foundation: This foundation has posted a sample application of a school seeking funding for increasing youth enrichment opportunities for their annual grant.
This is a grant example for funding opportunities that ask specific questions about your organization and the proposed project instead of requesting a general proposal or narrative.
Successful Youth Grant Proposals
These examples of grant proposals for youth programs can help you tap into one of the largest categories of charitable dollars.
Family Service Association (FSA): This example of a grant proposal that is well-written and comprehensive. It is for a community block grant focused on youth development to expand services and cover staff salaries.
The Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA): This is a sample produced by the national office of the BGCA to assist local branches in securing funds for youth programming and expanding services.
Successful Health-Related Grant Proposals
There is a large amount of funding for health-related initiatives, from healthcare grants to individuals, operational support for organizations or clinicians, and supporting researchers advancing the field. These sample grants give a bit of insight into this diverse sphere.
Centerville Community Center: Follow this link to read a grant to support community-based programming to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease prevention. This proposal does a great job of breaking down the project description, proposed activities, tracking measures, and timeline.
Prevention Plus Wellness: This is a sample grant proposal for nonprofit organizations to assist those looking to secure funds to address substance use and wellness programming for youth and young adults.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID): The NIAID has released several examples of proposal applications and scientific research grant proposal samples that successfully secured funding for scientific research related to healthcare.
Other Successful Grant Proposals
Of the over 1.6 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, your funding requests may fall out of the three general categories described above. We have included additional grants that may help meet your diverse needs.
Kennett Area Senior Center: Submitted to a local community foundation, this proposal requests funding between the range of $1,000 to $10,000 to provide critical services and assistance to local seniors.
In addition to being very detailed in describing the program details it also carefully describes the problem to be addressed.
Region 2 Arts Council: This comprehensive grant proposal requests funds to support an artist to continue expanding their skills and professional experience. This is a useful example for individual grants or scholarships for professional or scholastic opportunities in supported fields.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church: This is an excellent example of a faith-based organization’s proposal to secure funds for a capital project to repair their building. The framing of this proposal and the language in the narrative can be used to help shape proposal letters to individual donors and to foundations, which can be especially useful for faith-based organizations or other groups looking to secure funds.
Tips to Get More Successful Grant Proposal Examples
If you are interested in finding more grant proposal examples, especially those directly related to your organization's priorities and service area, you can look at a few places.
1st: Foundation Websites
Sometimes a foundation will include past proposal submissions publicly on the website. These are especially useful if you are seeking grants from the organization. You can see exactly what kind of proposals they found compelling enough to fund and see if there are any trends in their structure or language.
2nd: Online Tools and Workshops
Sites like the Community Tool Box or Non-Profit Guides offer free online resources for organizations working to support healthier communities and support social change. They provide helpful advice for new nonprofits and provide a whole suite of sample grants to help you start winning grants step by step.
You may also be able to ask other members of the Instrumentl community for their past successful grant proposals by attending our next live workshop. Hundreds of grant proposals attend these every few weeks. To RSVP, go here.
3rd: Collect your own!
As you start submitting grants, you are also creating a collection of sample grants tailored to your subject area. Every response offers an invaluable learning opportunity that can help you strengthen your grant writing skills.
Perhaps there are similarities among proposals that do exceptionally well. If a submission is rejected, ask for feedback or a score breakdown. Then, you may be able to see what areas need improvement for the future. Read our post on grant writing best practices for more on how to evaluate your past proposals.
Wrapping Things Up: Successful Grant Proposal Examples
Grant writing is a skill that anyone can learn. And as you begin to build your skills and prepare to write your next proposal, let these examples of successful grant proposals act as a guide to successful grant writing. Don’t however mistake a useful example as the ultimate guide to winning a grant for your organization.
Make sure to keep your unique mission, vision, and voice in the proposal!
Are you ready to get started?
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