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Unless you've developed a letter of introduction, the Executive Summary is the first page of your proposal and definitely the most important.  This section is what will convince the reader to keep going.  It's the ultimate persuaded. 

What is in the Executive Summary?
A little bit of everything - a summary of your entire proposal.

Problem/NeedThe grant money is available because of an identified concern.  You're expected to describe in one or two paragraphs what you've recognized as the need, while also convincing the reader that you are experienced enough to address it.  ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

SolutionHow will your program address the need?  What actual steps will you take: how many participants will benefit; in what period of time; and who will staff the project?  Explain this in one or two paragraphs. 


Funding requirementsHow much funding will you need for this project, and how will you sustain after their funding is gone (one paragraph or less)?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Organization and its expertiseI know that you want to talk a lot about yourself, but it really isn't necessary here.  Your goal is to let the reader know that you possess the experience to do the job.  Briefly, in one paragraph or less, tell the reader who you are, what you've done, etc. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Note: Even though the Executive Summary is the first page of the proposal, it's usually completed last! 


Now, this is the easy part.  At this point, you're clear on why the grant money is available and ready to outline the problems, along with statistics, etc., to validate why your project can impact the identified concerns. 

Food for thought

Before using any statistical data, compare information to various sources to ensure accuracy.  

Obtain information that pertains to your service area.

Don't blow the problem so out of proportion that no matter how much is funded, the need appears to be much to great.

Don't criticize the competition.  It's possible they were funded by the same funder.

Don't bog the reader down with every statistic that you find. It could become exhausting.  

Remember your 
Needs / Problem Statement explains why your project is needed and is usually 2 pages or less

Ok, it's time to draft your needs statement:


All right, here's your chance to show them what you're made of.  This is the meat and potatoes -- your passion for your project.  If well written, the reader will be able to visualize your program/project as they read.  The smiling faces; youth running and playing; seniors enjoying their swim lessons.  Whatever it is, they should be able to experience your passion through your writing.

Be clear.  This is where your goals and objectives will be reflected.  Remember that your objectives and methods will require adequate staff to accomplish your goal. 

What are Objectives - A clear, concise explanation of your goal.

  • Objectives are achievable in a specified time frame.

  • Objectives are your expected outcomes.

  • Your objectives will stimulate your methods.

Sample Objective:     Over the next six months the Kreative Images Foundation will conduct free business development workshops (marketing, customer service, etc. ) for approximately ninety-five (95) small businesses to increase their economic status thereby creating better employment opportunities for the residents of inner-city Los Angeles. 

  • What steps can be taken in order to accomplish the desired outcome(s)

  • Your methods are the steps in which you will take in order to accomplish your objectives.

  • In order to insure the objectives and methods correspond, it is recommended that you first write your objective and follow it with your method(s). 

Example:  Re-stated Objective:      Over the next six months the Kreative Images Foundation will conduct free business development workshops (marketing, customer service, etc.) for approximately ninety-five (95) small businesses to increase their economic status thereby creating better employment opportunities for the residents of inner,-city Los Angeles. 

Sample Methods: 

Method #1

Create a database of the small businesses in the service area.

Method #2

Develop a mailer to distribute.


Method #3

Attend community meetings to distribute the flyer/mailer.


Method #4

Develop a press release for the local paper(s).

In order to be effective, you should ask yourself a few questions:

Why did we choose the methods we've chosen?

How will we accomplish the desired outcome(s)?

When will our objectives and methods be accomplished? 

Food for thought

  • Your timeline is very important.  It should cover the entire grant period.

  • Your methods (steps) to implement your project will show the reader that you know what you are doing.  

  • In order to make your stated project believable, letters of agreement are always helpful.

  • Though soliciting the businesses to participate is important, facilitating the workshops is even more significant in order for the businesses to expand.  This is what accomplishes the expected outcome. 

  • The methods (steps) you implement should equal the magnitude of your objectives (expected outcomes). 

  • Present your objectives very clearly. 

  • Don't lose your reader by being too wordy.

  • Don't be afraid to use bullets, numbers, etc., to distinguish your objectives and methods from the other text.

  • Last but not lease, develop a realistic timeline when implementing your project. Don't make promises you can't keep. 

Instructions - Develop a few sample objectives and methods.

  • Objective #1 + Method #1

  • Objective #2 + Method #2

  • Objective #3 + Method #3

  • Objective #4 + Method #4

  • Objective #5 + Method #5


The evaluation process is just as important as implementing your project.  Even if the grant application does not require an evaluation, it is wise to develop a process in order to monitor your program.  How will you know that your program participants are satisfied?  It is also wise to evaluate while the program is still in progress, instead of waiting until it is over.  Evaluation of your project shows that you are serious about what you are doing.  Evaluations indicate that you are determined to actually reach your desired outcome. 

Evaluating your project helps you to perfect your project. 

Food for thought

  • An evaluation plan will aid in developing valuable activity reports, etc.

  • In some cases, an evaluation may not be needed.  The number of participants served was found to be sufficient.  

  • Your evaluation should correspond with your program

Instructions - Draft an evaluation plan for your project:


Because you are so familiar with who you are and what you've accomplished, it's a natural instinct to want to elaborate on this subject at the very beginning of the proposal, but that's not what is most important to the reader.  Once you have articulately justified the need, and passionately explained your project, you can now mesmerize the reader with your organization's outstanding skills and talents.  This section is like an extended resume of who you are. 

Food for thought

  • In some cases, depending on the grant application, your website, newsletters, brochures, etc. would suffice, instead of endlessly writing about your organization and its staff.

  • Define your organization's structure.

  • What are your current and past programs and services?

  • Describe how your objectives, etc., meet the requirements of the grant guidelines.



The budget is a replica of your written proposal in numbers.  Too often proposal writers lose sight of what they wrote in the narrative and what should be included in the budget.  In many cases, a simple on-page budget is sufficient.  Your budget and its contents will depend on the grant application and again, your proposal narrative. 

Sample "Partial" Budget





Project Director


Office Space

12 working 10 hrs per wk for 3 months

Supervise program directors and the full process of the program

Leased space from ABC company

Oversee the daily operation of the program




12 X 10 X 13 X $4.50 = $7,020

Instructions - Draft your budget. Identify all of your expenses

External Resource Links


  • National Council Of Nonprofits

Featured snippet from the web

Propel Non-Profit Company Website


Budgeting: A 10-Step Checklist

A budget is a planning tool that reflects an organization’s programs, mission, and strategic plan. This 10-step budgeting checklist helps guide the budgeting process, which typically should begin at least three months before the end of the fiscal year to ensure that the budget is approved by the board of directors before the start of the new year.

1. Determine a timeline

  • The set target date for board approval

  • Allow time for each step and for review and discussion

  • Approve before the beginning of the fiscal year beginning of the fiscal year

2. Agree on goals

  • Prioritize program delivery goals

  • Set organizational financial goals

  • Clarify annual goals from the strategic plan

3. Understand the current financial status

  • Review current year income and expense compared to budget

  • Forecast to the end of the year

  • Analyze and understand any variances

4. Agree on a budget approach

  • Assign roles and responsibilities

  • Agree on authority to make decisions

  • Agree on how much uncertainty can be included (how many unknowns)

5. Develop a draft expense budget

  • Determine costs (expenses) to reach program goals

  • Determine costs to reach organizational and strategic goals

6. Develop a draft income budget

  • Project income based on current fundraising and revenue activities

  • Project new income based on new activities

7. Review the draft budget

  • Verify that the draft meets program and organizational goals

  • Review and discuss all assumptions

  • Make adjustments, based on goals and capacity, to match income and expenses

  • Review the final draft for all goals and objectives

8. Approve budget

  • Present to any committees as needed

  • Present to the board for approval

9. Document budget decisions

  • Create a consolidated budget spreadsheet and file

  • Write down all assumptions

10. Implement budget

  • Assign management responsibilities

  • Incorporate into the accounting system

  • Monitor and respond to changes as needed

Another website to take a look at is The Council of Nonprofits

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