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How to write a winning grant proposal

A man writing a grant proposal

Writing a proposal for a project grant can feel like a daunting task, but with the right guidance, it doesn’t need to be a bewildering endeavor. Like climbing a mountain, it helps to have a path to follow to reach its summit, or in this case, a map of sorts to guide you to your desired destination—a compelling proposal that unlocks funding to advance your mission-driven work.  
In this blog, we will share the key elements of a typical project proposal and best practices for how to approach drafting each section to help you secure the grant you seek. 

Key elements of a grant proposal 

Executive summary 

Often, your executive summary will be the first spot funders look to decide if they want to continue reading the entire proposal. Although an executive summary is typically included at the beginning of your final grant proposal, it’s best to tackle writing this section last given its importance. Your executive summary provides a snapshot of your overall proposal and often includes: 

  • The problem or need you’re seeking to address, or your proposal’s need statement. 
  • A brief description of the project, including your goals and objectives. 
  • Information about your organization and its experience addressing your proposal’s key need or problem. 
  • How much money that you are asking the funder to consider granting you.  

Need statement 

Your need statement is where you’ll convince your prospective funder of the urgency of addressing your proposed problem or need in one page or less. In this section, do your best to succinctly peak the prospective funder’s interest in your specific project by incorporating data-driven insights and human stories that bring your need to life. Once completed, it should seek to answer these questions: If your project is funded, how will it be better and for whom, and why should this particular funder care?  

Given you are competing with other applicants, don’t forget to align your need statement with your funder’s objectives. After all, the best way to get a funder to care about your solution is to explain how it overlaps with the focus areas of their foundation.   

Project description 

Your project description should delve deep into the specific activities of your project and how they will benefit your target demographic. This section should include a detailed outline that explains exactly how, when, and by whom the project will be executed and completed. An additional tip for success: Consider emphasizing any collaborations and partnerships with other organizations on similar efforts to boost your credibility. 

Project goals and objectives 

When it comes to grant proposals, it is important to understand the difference between goals and objectives. Goals are typically broad, general statements of need, while objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound (S.M.A.R.T.). It is also important to discuss whether the issue is currently being addressed, and how your solution or organization will be better than the status quo.  

Organizational information 

In your grant proposal, you should provide more information about your organization. This is where you can showcase your mission, organizational history, as well as the impacts of your other programs and/or services. In this section, you can highlight your nonprofit’s accomplishments, staff’s expertise, and track record of success in your community. When approaching writing this section of your proposal, aim to include details that help the funder see why your organization is best suited to solve the problem or need at hand, if awarded the grant.  
If you are wondering how to get started, consider showcasing the information in your Candid nonprofit profile

Project budget 

Here you’ll get down to the dollars and cents required to address your need or problem. Your project budget will ideally mirror the associated direct and indirect costs of the items outlined in your project description, such as staffing, rent, supplies, promotion, and the like. In this section, you will also want to detail the revenue sources you are planning to use to fund the project. Another tip for success: Be sure to explain how you will continue to support and sustain the project—beyond the specific grant you are seeking.   
For a more in-depth understanding of how to create a project budget, be sure to check out this free training on the topic. 

With this roadmap to guide your efforts, you’re ready to begin writing a successful grant proposal. If you’re interested in some additional tips and pointers, be sure to also consider the following best practices: 

  • Start with an outline to help you better prepare, organize your thoughts, and guide your efforts. 
  • Do your research to understand who you are approaching and what their priorities are by exploring the information on their website, the types of nonprofits and issue areas they fund using Foundation Directory, and the like. 
  • Focus on the funder’s objectives and use your powers of persuasion to make them understand that your approach is in their best interest. 
  • Always follow the funder’s guidelines and keep your language clear and concise. 
  • Tap into the power of your colleagues’ feedback, and don’t forget to revise and edit your proposal before submitting it. 

To learn even more, visit where you can find free resources and sample documents or join us for our three-week, in-depth Proposal Writing Bootcamp to help you craft a winning grant proposal. 


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  • Edwin Ogoma says:

    May 8, 2024 7:34 am

    I feel inspired

  • Joash ndege says:

    April 11, 2024 9:21 am

    Hi lam happy for the information

  • Kyoko Uchida says:

    March 25, 2024 12:47 pm

  • Allan mailon says:

    March 25, 2024 1:13 am

    Can i have a sample copy of the grant proposal. Am planning to open an initiative program which will support vulnerable children to access good education,healthy and better living.

  • Alexander W. Wesley says:

    February 17, 2024 4:31 am

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  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    January 19, 2024 10:54 am

    Hi Tumi, we tested the documents and all of them seem to be downloading correctly. Was there a specific document that you had trouble downloading?

  • Tumi Mabena says:

    January 16, 2024 4:16 am

    Thank you for such great content. I tried to download a number of sample proposals but they seem to be corrupted from your end. Please could you look into it. I'm in South Africa.

  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    December 11, 2023 12:33 pm

    We have free examples of grant proposals in our Sample Documents page.


    December 9, 2023 2:21 pm

    I am happy for the details provided

    I would be the happiest to see samples of grant proposal if you dont mind

  • Owino says:

    November 9, 2023 1:29 pm

    Quite educative, thanks

  • Keshini Wijegoonaratna says:

    November 9, 2023 10:16 am

    The strategies and key areas indicated are noted.
    Thank You

  • Ntahli Griffiths says:

    November 8, 2023 4:50 am

    We have a community based organization which like also to empower vulnerable groups of women in community and would like to write a winning proposal.

  • Christopher L. Lunguya says:

    July 23, 2023 3:52 am

    Very important and useful information, Well done.I cannot express my thanks to Candid

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    April 13, 2023 9:49 am

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    March 23, 2023 8:41 am

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    March 23, 2023 8:40 am

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  • Miatta T. Sawyer Davis says:

    February 18, 2023 5:18 pm


  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    February 16, 2023 10:28 am

    That depends a little on what information you want! Head to our Contact Us page for information on how to reach us for different products or for educational resources.

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    February 16, 2023 10:26 am

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  • Louis Mwewa says:

    February 16, 2023 7:16 am

    I have the article very interesting and educative.

  • Kate, Digital Communications Manager, Candid says:

    February 13, 2023 9:09 am

    We have lots of resources to help you write a grant proposal! Get started here: How do I write a grant proposal?

  • Gerard Foisape says:

    February 13, 2023 9:06 am

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  • Charles says:

    February 8, 2023 3:54 am

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